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ILO 2022: Collective bargaining contributes to fighting inequality

Collective bargaining played a crucial role during the pandemic and can provide an effective means for employers and workers to tackle the new challenges that are shaking up the world of work.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) has published a report entitled Social Dialogue Report 2022: Collective bargaining for an inclusive, sustainable and resilient recovery, which is based on a review of collective agreements and practices in 80 countries at different levels of economic development and the legal and regulatory frameworks in 125 countries. The report shows that the higher the coverage of employees by collective agreements, the lower the wage differences. Collective bargaining can effectively reduce wage inequality and contribute to narrowing the gender pay gap. According to the report, over one-third of employees (35 %) in 98 countries have their wages, working time, and other conditions of work set by autonomous collective negotiations between a trade union and an employer or employers’ organization. But there is a considerable variation across countries, ranging from over 75 % in many European countries to below 25 % in around half of the countries for which data are available.

Collective bargaining has played an important role in mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on employment and earnings, helping to cushion some of the effects of inequality while reinforcing the resilience of enterprises and labour markets by protecting workers and enterprises, securing business continuity, and saving jobs. Many collective agreements provided for public health measures and strengthening of occupational safety and health (OSH) at the workplace, that together with the paid sick leave and healthcare benefits have contributed to protecting millions of workers.

Collective bargaining can make a crucial contribution to the inclusive and effective governance of work, with positive effects on equality, stability, and the resilience of labour markets. A human-centred recovery implies that employers and workers have a voice in policies affecting them. The representative character of Employer and Business Membership Organizations (EBMOs) is the bedrock of effective social dialogue. Among the other priorities are realizing the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining for all workers, promoting an inclusive, sustainable, and resilient recovery, and supporting the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly SDG Goal 8 (on decent work and economic growth) and also other SDGs.

For the full report, please visit the website.