Home / National Industrial Relations / Countries / Luxembourg / Trade Unions

Trade Unions

Union density in Luxembourg is around a third of the workforce. There are two main union confederations, OGB-L and LCCB, with affiliates across the bulk of the economy. The two have ideological differences, although they co-operate both at national and European level. There are also other important union groupings in finance, railways and the public service.

There are around 160,000 trade unionists in Luxembourg, according to the unions’ own figures, of whom perhaps 20% are retired. With 422,000 employees working in Luxembourg in 2018, including 192,000 who cross the frontier from Luxembourg’s neighbours every day, this suggests a union density figure of around 30%. The ICTWSS database estimates union density at 31.8% in 2018.[1]  This is lower than the 41% union density figure published by statec, the national statistics office, in 2011.[2] However, this figure related only to those living in Luxembourg, not to those commuting from other countries, and since then it is likely that any increase in union membership has lagged behind the increase in the number of employees (see below).

 

There are two main trade union confederations, the OGB-L with more than 70,000 members and the LCGB with 40,850.[3] The OGB-L has been strengthened by a planned merger with the FNCTTFEL, which organises railway and transport workers, including civil servants, and has between 6,000 and 7,000 members, including pensioners. The merger was agreed in principle at the FNCTTFEL congress in December 2019 and will be implemented gradually over the period 2020 to 2022.[4]

 

The FNCTTFEL has cooperated with OGB-L for many years – the two bodies signed a cooperation agreement in 2011 – and there is similar cooperation between LCGB and the small railway and transport workers’ union SPYROLUX.

 

The third important union grouping in the private sector is ALEBA, which operates in banking and insurance companies, where it has 10,000 members and is the largest union (figure from ALEBA website[5]). There is also another cross-industry private sector union grouping NGL-SNEP, although its support is much more limited than that for the OGB-L and the LCGB, as shown in the elections to the chamber of employees (see below).

 

There are also two important public sector unions, the CGFP (civil servants), which has more than 30,000 members[6], and the FGFC (local government employees), with 4,200.[7]

 

In 2004, Luxembourg reformed the rules on collective bargaining (see section on collective bargaining) and the representative status of unions.

 

The legislation only covers the private sector, and it distinguishes between unions that have national representative status and those that are representative in an important sector of the economy. Nationally representative unions must be active in a majority of the country’s economic sectors and have at least 20% support in the elections for the body representing employees – the Chamber of Employees Luxembourg (CSL). Unions that are representative in an important sector of the economy (defined as one in which at least 10% of the private sector employees work) must have the support of 50% in the elections for the section of the CSL covering that sector. In addition to be representative at both levels, unions must be able to sustain a major industrial dispute, either at national level – for nationally representative union, or in that industry – for representative unions at industry level.[8]

 

Elections to the Chamber of Employees (CSL), which replaced separate chambers for manual and non-manual employees in 2008, take place every five years. Following the elections in March 2019 four unions are represented in the CSL.[9] The OGB-L has an overall majority, with 35 of the 60 seats and LCGB is in second place with 18. Together these two confederations hold all the seats in the seven of the CSL’s nine sections – eight sections based on industries and one for retired workers. Of the two remaining sections, the eight seats in financial services are split between ALEBA (four), OGB-L (three) and LCGB (one), while in the section for the railways (employees and pensioners), FNCTTFEL has two seats and SPYROLUX has one.

 

The CSL, which has an important role in influence economic and social policy in Luxembourg, only covers the private sector. There is a separate 27-member chamber for civil servants and public employees (CHFEP), which is elected every five years. In the 2015 election the CGFP won 21 seats, the FGFC won five and APESS (a teachers’ union) and FNCTTFEL won one each. (Some railway workers are civil servants.)[10]

 

Another indication of the level of union support is provided by the election of employee representatives in the private sector, which took place on the same date in March 2019 (see section on workplace representation). A total of 8,290 delegates were elected: 1,999 (24.1%) nominated by OGB-L, 1,178 (14.2%) by LCGB, and 334 by ALEBA (4.0%). All the other unions gained fewer than 25 delegates each, and the 4,710 elected delegates not nominated by any union made up a majority (56.8%) of the total.[11]

 

Both the OGB-L and the LCGB are divided into federations on an industrial basis. The OGB-L has 15; the LCGB has 14. The CGFP has 10 major lower-level organisations, such as the teachers’ union in the public sector, as well as groups of individual members.

 

The two main confederations are formally politically independent, but they have different political roots. The OGB-L comes from the socialist tradition, while the LCGB’s links are with the Christian Social Party. Despite this, their relationships are reasonably harmonious, and the two confederations have a joint European secretariat, the SECEC, to represent the interest of workers in Luxembourg in Brussels.[12]

 

ALEBA emphasises its party-political independence.

 

Luxembourg’s unions report that their membership has increased since the start of century. The OGB-L for example reports it has more than 70,000 members, compared with only 46,000 in 1999, while the LCGB reports that its membership has increased from 28,000 to more than 40,000. Despite this, growing employment means that union density has declined. Between 1999 and 2019, the total number of employees almost doubled from 232,000 to 437,000 an 88% increase, with the majority of the increase made up of cross-border workers, whose number increased by 157% over the same period.[13] Although unions attempt to provide support to these cross-border workers, with union offices in towns in France, Belgium and Germany, they seem more difficult to unionise.

 

Women seem less like to be union members than men. The 2011 statec report on union density found that 44% of male employees were in a union compared with 38% of women.[14]

[1] Jelle Visser, ICTWSS Data base. Version 6.1. Amsterdam: Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies AIAS. October 2019

[2] Regards sur la syndicalisation au Luxembourg, by Jean Ries, Statec, 12-2011 http://www.statistiques.public.lu/catalogue-publications/regards/2011/PDF-12-2011.pdf

[3] Figure from OGB-L from union website http://www.ogbl.lu/nous-connaitre/introduction/syndicat-numero-1-au-luxembourg/ figure for LCGB from Working life in Luxembourg by Franz Clément, Kristell Leduc, Patrick Thill and Roland Maas, Eurofound, 2019 https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/country/luxembourg#actors-and-institutions (Accessed 14.04.2020)

[4] Luxembourg: Latest developments in working life Q4 2019 by Patrick Thill and Roland Maas, Eurofound, 2019 https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/publications/article/2020/luxembourg-latest-developments-in-working-life-q4-2019 (Accessed 14.04.2020)

[5] https://www.aleba.lu/presentation/ (Accessed 14.04.2020)

[6] CGFP Syndicat Rapport d’activités 2018, https://www.cgfp.lu/medias/documents-archives (Accessed 14.04.2020)

[7] Working life in Luxembourg by Franz Clément, Kristell Leduc, Patrick Thill and Roland Maas, Eurofound, 2019 https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/country/luxembourg#actors-and-institutions (Accessed 14.04.2020)

[8] Loi du 30 juin concernant les conventions collectives de travail

[9] Assemblée plénière - présentation https://www.csl.lu/fr/chambre-des-salaries/structure/assemblee-pleniere-presentation (Accessed 14.04.2020)

[10] Présentation CHFEP https://www.chfep.lu/present.php (Accessed 14.04.2020)

 

[11] ITM Total national (22.04.20) https://itm.public.lu/fr/conditions-travail/elections-sociales/resultats/total-national.html (Accessed 22.04.2020)

[12] Le SECEC http://www.secec.lu/organisation/le-secec  (Accessed 14.04.2020)

[13] Statec : B3002 Emploi salarié intérieur par lieu de résidence et nationalité 1995 - 2019

[14] Regards sur la syndicalisation au Luxembourg, by Jean Ries, Statec, 12-2011 http://www.statistiques.public.lu/catalogue-publications/regards/2011/PDF-12-2011.pdf (Accessed 14.04.2020)

L. Fulton (2021) National Industrial Relations, an update (2019-2021). Labour Research Department and ETUI (online publication). Online publication available at http://www.worker-participation.eu/National-Industrial-Relations.