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Compare Countries

This tool allows you to compare countries, for example with regard to their national systems of trade unions, collective bargaining and workplace representation.

Country Austria [more ...] Belgium [more ...] Denmark [more ...] France [more ...]
Collective Bargaining Coverage 95% 96% 80% 98%
Collective Bargaining

Industry-level agreements dominate in Austria, and as the employers are normally represented by statutory bodies – the economic chambers, to which all employers are obliged to belong – the agreements cover almost all employees.

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.


Bargaining at national level provides a framework for much of the Danish industrial relations system. Pay and conditions are negotiated between unions or “cartels” of unions and the employers at industry level, but complementary negotiations at company level are becoming increasingly important. Overall 83% of employees are covered by collective bargaining.

Collective bargaining takes place at national, industry and company level and at each level there are detailed rules about who can negotiate and the requirements for an agreement to be valid. Industry level agreements are the most important level for negotiation in terms of numbers covered, although legislation introduced in 2017 has given precedence to company level agreements in certain areas.

Country Germany [more ...] Ireland [more ...] Italy [more ...] Luxembourg [more ...]
Collective Bargaining Coverage 62% 44% 80% 50%
Collective Bargaining

Collective bargaining at industry level between individual trade unions and employers' organisations is still the most important mechanisms for setting pay and conditions in Germany. However, the system is under pressure as employers leave or never join employers’ organisations, and the agreements themselves provide for greater flexibility at company level.

A series of National Partnership Agreements provided a non-binding framework for pay bargaining from 1987 to 2009. However, this system collapsed as a result of the economic crisis, and the country returned to company level bargaining in the private sector with a relatively low level of coverage, although the public sector continues to be covered by national bargaining.  

Collective bargaining in the private sector in Italy primarily takes place at two levels – industry level and company level. However, recently changes to the system have potentially strengthened company-level bargaining, while the number of agreements signed by non-representative bodies has grown.

The key levels of bargaining are at industry and company level, and the relative balance between the two varies from industry to industry. There are precise rules on what must be included in agreements and who can sign them. Luxembourg is also one of two EU states where pay goes up automatically in line with inflation.

Country Netherlands [more ...] Norway [more ...] Portugal [more ...] Spain [more ...]
Collective Bargaining Coverage 81% 70% 92% 70%
Collective Bargaining

The vast majority of employees in the Netherlands are covered by collective bargaining, mostly at industry level. However, many large companies negotiate their own deals. Negotiators generally follow the recommendations agreed at national level and recent pay increases have been moderate.

Agreements reached at national level provide much of the industrial relations framework that in other countries would be provided by legislation. Below this there is a hierarchical structure of annual negotiations at both industry and company/organisation level which set terms and conditions for around 70% of the workforce.

Negotiations at industry level, between employers’ associations and the unions, have in the past been the most important element in Portugal’s bargaining arrangements, providing a high level of collective bargaining coverage – partially through the extension of agreements by the government. However, the system has been under threat because of legal changes, which have only partially been reversed

Negotiations take place at national, industry and company level in Spain, with a national agreement generally providing a framework for lower-level bargaining. The overall level of coverage of collective bargaining is high at around 80% of employees, and major legal changes introduced in 2012, have not changed this.

Country Sweden [more ...]
Collective Bargaining Coverage 88%
Collective Bargaining

The key level for collective bargaining in Sweden is the industry level, although, within the industry-level framework, around 91% of employees have part of their pay determined by local level negotiations, and 28% have all their pay determined locally. The overall level of coverage of collective agreements is high – estimated at 88%.