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Belgium  Belgium

Key Facts

Population11,094,850
Collective Bargaining Coverage 96%
Proportion of Employees in Unions 50%
Principal Level of Collective Bargaining

national (sets framework)

Workplace Representation

union and works council (union dominates)

Board-level Representation

no

Company Board Structure

monistic

Sources: see individual country sections; where a range of figures has been quoted, the lower number has been taken

Trade Unions

Trade unions in Belgium are divided between competing confederations, which have clear political traditions. The two largest CSC/ACV and the FGTB/ABVV are linked to the christian and socialist movements respectively, while the smaller CGSLB/ACLVB is linked to the liberals. Despite this the unions are able to co-operate and around half the workforce is unionised – with union membership growing.

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Collective Bargaining

A national agreement sets the key elements of pay and conditions every two years and this agreement itself is tightly constrained by legislation limiting pay increases to forecast pay costs in Belgium’s neighbours. With automatic pay indexation linked to inflation, negotiators have only limited room for manoeuvre.

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Workplace Representation

Belgium has structures at workplace level representing both all employees and trade unionists, but, with only trade unions able to nominate to the works council, the key body is the union delegation. It is the union delegation which negotiates key issues with management, although the works council has extensive information and consultation rights. The it works council also has decision-making powers in some areas.

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Board-level Representation

Employees are not represented at board level in Belgium, except in a handful of publicly-owned companies.

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European-level Representation

The hierarchy for choosing European representatives from Belgium for European bodies is the works council, the health and safety committee and the union delegations.

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Health and Safety Representation

Employee representation on health and safety matters is provided by the employee members of the joint health and safety committee. They are elected by all employees on the basis of nominations from the unions, and the powers of the health and safety committees are extensive and defined in detail in Belgian legislation.

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Financial Participation

Dissemination of employee financial participation in Belgium is in line with the European average. Regulations supporting profit-sharing and employee share ownership were introduced in 2002.

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