Collective bargaining in Belgium is highly structured: it takes place at national level for the entire private sector, at sectoral level for specific areas of the economy and, then, at company or group level. It each case, the lower level can only improve on what has been negotiated at the higher level. Agreements are binding and must be applied. This system means that the percentage of workers covered by collective agreements is very high. The European industrial research agency, Eurofound, estimates coverage at 96%.
Unions play a key role in these negotiations at all levels.
However, over the last years, it has become increasingly difficult to achieve quality agreements. Employers’ associations instead claim to want to protect the country’s competitive position in Europe, supported by the right-wing government, to the detriment of our social rights.
Belgian unions are promoting the Together At Work campaign in workplaces through posters and social media. Our aim is to underline to workers the importance of strong collective bargaining. We are also showing the campaign films at activist meetings.