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[Excerpt] This paper looks at wages from two different angles: from the perspective of individual employees, discussed in conjunction with their working conditions, and from the perspective of the industrial relations system.

After a brief overview of EU-level policy developments with a potential impact on national level pay determination, this report gives a comparative overview of the levels of collective wage setting and how they are set throughout Europe and goes on to report on reforms, changes or debates linked to these processes between the different actors at both the Member State and the European level in 2011 and 2012. This includes, for instance, debates on potential changes of indexation mechanisms in Belgium, Luxembourg and Cyprus, as a result of the Commission’s recommendations within the Euro Plus Pact. While in some countries (Estonia, Bulgaria) social partners resumed collective bargaining (either on wages or on minimum wages) and came to agreements, in other countries (Lithuania, Romania), no agreements could be reached. Some changes in the way collective bargaining is organised were recently introduced in Spain, Romania, Greece, Ireland and Portugal. Information on these issues stems from the European Industrial Relations Observatory (EIRO).

Furthermore, this paper also summarises the current changes and debates among the social partners and governments in relation to the setting and the level of minimum wages across Europe. It then looks into the area of ‘working poor’, that is people who are in employment but still at risk of poverty. To what extent do governments and social partners put forth policy responses to address the issue of in-work-poverty? And to what extent did the crisis have an impact? In order to answer these questions, the paper draws on Eurofound research on the situation of the ‘Working poor’.

Finally the paper presents a collection of recent ‘information updates’ from the European Industrial Relations Observatory (EIRO) on various issues in relation to pay from Member States.


Suggested Citation
European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. (2013). Wages: A working conditions and industrial relations perspective. Dublin: Author.