With energy prices remaining high and inflation continuing to rise, workers' disposable income and welfare have been dramatically reduced. Despite much evidence to the contrary, employers continue to warn of a damaging wage-price spiral.
Trade unions did not fall victim to this myth. Our members and unions across Europe have confronted employers in negotiations and rallies with demands for higher wages to offset inflation and combat a cost-of-living crisis that many Europeans have never experienced in their lives.
IndustriAll Europe is proud to have supported the struggles of its members with a set of common demands in a Europe-wide campaign. We have been side by side with our affiliates as they engaged in tough rounds of collective bargaining.
At this stage of our joint campaign, we can congratulate our affiliates on some important achievements as they have concluded collective agreements with significant wage increases.
- The FNV in the Netherlands won an 11% wage increase in the metal sector. The agreement has a duration of 18 months.
- IG Metall in Germany achieved a wage increase of 8.5% plus a one-off tax-free bonus of 3,000 euros in the metal/electrical sector. The duration of the collective agreement is 24 months. IG BCE achieved a pay increase of 6.5% in the chemical sector and a bonus of 3,000 euros. The agreement has a duration of 20 months.
- The PRO-GE and GPA trade unions in Austria won a 7.4% pay increase in the metal/technology sector and a monthly lump sum of 75 euros. The agreement is valid for 12 months.
- FSLI Petrom and Metarom in Romania concluded company-level agreements providing for wage increases of 10-14%.
Mobilisation continues in many countries and we have seen large-scale protests. For example, unions in the French energy sector took decisive industrial action on several occasions. The Belgian trade unions organised a general strike on 9 November to fight, among other things, for their wage indexation system. The Bulgarian trade union confederations, CITUB and Podkrepa, together with their sectoral federations, organised a nationwide protest on 11 November.
The mobilisation also reached the company level. VW Autoeuropa workers in Portugal went on strike on 17 November, with the support of our affiliate Fiequimetal, to demand an extraordinary wage increase to fight the rise in the cost of living. In Romania, on the same day, 5000 workers from Dacia, Ford, ICA, Glasscorp, Astra Rail and others affiliated to our member union industriAll-BNS, took to the streets to demand higher wages, caps on energy prices and a reform of the controversial Social Dialogue Law (62/2011), which severely hinders collective bargaining.
Trade unions are committed to their struggle and to their important task of protecting the purchasing power and working conditions of their members.
Our focus now turns to politics: we demand European coordinated, effective measures to fight the crisis - measures to protect jobs and incomes, European solutions to the energy price crisis and funds for recovery. The European Commission sent the right signal in its European Semester Autumn Package by stating that wages must be raised and collective bargaining strengthened. We now expect concrete action to achieve this.