Collective bargaining is an important and necessary tool in furthering the rights of workers as it allows for the interests of individuals to be represented as a whole, at a high level with formal procedures in place. Unfortunately, collective bargaining is not always available for workers in the public sector, in particular for members of the armed forces, as they are often prevented from doing so by legislators. Below you will find country profiles of EUROMIL members which are updated on an ongoing and regular basis with any relevant changes or activities.
In this section, you will find more information about how members of EUROMIL are dealing with collective bargaining in their countries.
Information provided by DBwV (February 2022)
Salary adjustments in the Bundeswehr are complex and depend above all on the respective status of those concerned.
For pay-scale employees: The salaries of the approximately 40,000 pay-scale employees in the Bundeswehr are determined through collective bargaining. This means that there are classic collective bargaining parties, each of which concludes collective agreements for specific periods. On the employer side, the Federal Ministry of the Interior acts as the collective bargaining party, while the trade unions take on these tasks for the pay-scale employees. The German Federal Workers’ Federation is not involved here, as it is not a trade union in the classical sense. Current status of the collective agreement: The current collective agreement last provided for a 1.4 per cent increase in April 2021. A further increase of 1.8 per cent is due in April 2022.
For soldiers: Soldiers in Germany are not collective bargaining employees and are therefore not directly covered by the collective agreement described above. Rather, the pay of the majority of soldiers (temporary soldiers and professional soldiers) is fixed by law (§ 14 Bundesbesoldungsgesetz). This means that a total of about 120,000 temporary soldiers and 55,000 professional soldiers are affected. A change in the law by resolution of the German Bundestag is always necessary to adjust the pay of these people. The practice has developed that the salary is adjusted in accordance with the results of the collective agreement in the civil service. There is no constitutional or statutory rule on this. In practice, however, this means that the collective agreement is not directly but indirectly transferred to the salary (in detail, there are complicated individual regulations and reductions, for example, the so-called pension reserve, §14a BbesG).
For civil servants: The approx. 20,000 civil servants in the Bundeswehr are also paid – in contrast to pay-scale employees. The adjustments are therefore based on the above remarks on soldiers.
Other soldiers: Not all soldiers are paid in Germany. However, the remuneration of reservists is legally linked to the salary adjustments of soldiers (§ 8 Maintenance Act), so that regular adjustments are also possible for this group of persons. For the so-called voluntary conscripts (approx. 7,000), an adjustment in line with the salary adjustments is also provided for (section 7 of the Military Salary Act).
Information provided by RACO (January 2022)
Following a period of extensive lobbying and social activism by ‘soldiers wives’ protesting over notably poor pay and working conditions, the Irish miliary representative associations were established in 1991. In conjunction with this, a ‘Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme’ similar to existing ones for Civil Servants and Teachers was established for members of the Permanent Defence Force. Under Defence Forces Regulation S.6 the statutory basis for the ‘Scope of Representation’, the associations can (at least on paper) inter alia pursue individual and collective claims on pay and allowances for their respective members. But saliently recent national pay deals have negated this ability as there are “no claim” clauses built-in to current deals.
While some C&A Scheme negotiations did initially bring about improvements in pay and allowances for members, relatively quickly what was happening in the wider Irish industrial relations world was having a bigger and more positive impact. The 1990’s was the time when social partnership really took off in Ireland. As the ‘Celtic Tiger’ blossomed and boomed, centralised agreements between Government, Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) and other social partners led to a significant gains for both private and public sector workers (and the wider public). Centralised agreements not only brought in significant pay increases, but wider ranging social agreements strived to improve social equality, prosperity, rights, justice, education etc. The main powerbrokers in these negotiations became the Department of Finance (later to become Dept of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) and the Public Services Committee (PSC) of ICTU.
The military representative associations were statutorily prevented from either joining or associating with ICTU and hence were relegated to a ‘parallel process’ with other non ITCU affiliates when discussions and negotiations were ongoing for the one-size-fits-all national pay deals. The parallel process resulted in non ICTU affiliated bodies being a number of steps behind the talks but more importantly caused a complete inability to bring their sectoral issues forward for inclusion, consideration and ultimately resolution in the final national pay deals.
In the eyes of RACO this situation led to a downgrading of the C&A scheme where only relatively minor issues or claims would be slowly resolved; While more salient or significant issues get put into abeyance as management paradoxically and without irony claim they can’t be resolved as they are not part of any national agreement, completely ignoring the fact that they were never considered as part of the national deal in the first place.
The series of centralised national deals delivered for society and workers generally but with the severe change in global economic fortunes in 2009, centralised pay talks were used to cut public service pay and introduced a range of cost saving measures (reduced annual & sick leave, additional working and flexible hours, abolished allowances and increased unsocial working hours for many, additional pay cuts for higher paid professionals).
So currently, while Irish military personnel in theory have a C&A scheme, the national imperative (as determined by Govt and ICTU) seems to be to have a very centralised collective bargaining system. At national pay level this would appear to work well as the majority of unions and associations have taken the outcome of negotiation solely conducted by the PSC and DPER on their behave. The latest nation pay deal called ‘Building Momentum’ now sees the vast majority of public sector workers pay being restored to 2010 levels.
That said and within the military context where relative pay and retention problem persists, very little has been achieved through either the C&A scheme or national pay deals to address major issues, hence why PDFORRA are seeking and latterly where RACO are now considering limited membership of ICTU and the associated access to the PSC.
So in summary, all public sector workers in Ireland are subject to a highly centralised, one-size-fits-all national pay deals where a relatively small number of officials from DPER and the PSC of ICTU now negotiate national pay deal on behalf 350,00 public sector workers. While each union or association will individually vote to accept or reject the deal, it remains the case as a body unable to influence or affiliated to ICTU in a sector (Defence), the Defence Forces are suffering a sustained retention crisis and with comparatively low pay RACO is unable to either influence increases or break pay relativities for its members.
Information provided by SOVCG (February 2022)
Collective bargaining between the Ministry of Defense and SOVCG since November 2021 almost does not exist. According to the SOVCG, the absence of negotiations is caused by an unstable political situation in Montenegro, which led to a vote of no confidence in the Government of Montenegro at the end of January 2022. This state of political instability prevents the activity of the SOVCG and our demands remain in the background.
Despite the fact that there was no social dialogue between SOVCG and the Ministry of Defense of Montenegro, the program of the Government of Montenegro called “Europe Now” has improved the living standards of Montenegrin citizens. As a result of this economic program, the minimum wage was increased from €250 to €450, and as a result of the abolition of the burden on gross wages based on health insurance for members of the Montenegrin Army, net wages increased by an average of 17% to 22%.
There is no collective bargaining in Portugal.
Information provided by ZVSR (updated Ferbuary 2022).
EUROMIL Member ZV SR is not authorised to partake in collective bargaining activities in Slovakia. As such, an effective means of cooperation with the Ministry of Defence of the Slovak Republic was established through an official agreement. The official agreement can be read here.
Information provided by SAMO (February 2022)
In Sweden, it is the social partners who jointly take responsibility for wage growth and development. It is the employers and trade unions who negotiate wages and conditions. The terms and conditions are then regulated in collective agreements. This is the Swedish model. The Swedish model also applies to private as well as the state sector.
The parties bound by the negotiated collective agreements must follow the so called duty of peace, which means that an employee cannot dispute the agreement from the employer and vice versa. A dispute means actions from one of the parties such as strikes, lockouts or blockades. Disputes by one party are normally based on issues such as salaries, working conditions, work environment and working hours.
The military and the police are also covered by collective agreements and these groups also have the right to disputes.
The negotiations of the agreements are normally written by all participating parties which includes both the objectives as well as the terms and conditions. After that, contracts are signed. Negotiations normally starts no later than three months before the end of the old agreements. Unless a new agreement has been reached with one month remaining of the contract period, a phase follows in which the “impartial chairman”, as the parties themselves have appointed, leads the negotiations.
Industrial agreements are the benchmark for contracts in the rest of the labor market. Once the mark is set, several hundred agreements are expected in all sectors including the state sector.