Protection of the right to bargain collectively, including the right to strike
- Parliamentary Assembly
debate on 28 January 2015 (6th Sitting) (see Doc. 13663, report of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and
Sustainable Development, rapporteur: Mr Andrej Hunko). Text adopted by the Assembly on
28 January 2015 (6th Sitting).
1. Social dialogue, the regular and
institutionalised dialogue between employers’ and workers’ representatives,
has been an inherent part of European socio-economic processes for
decades. The rights to organise, to bargain collectively and to
strike – all essential components of this dialogue – are not only democratic
principles underlying modern economic processes, but fundamental
rights enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS
No. 5) and the European Social Charter (revised) (ETS No. 163).
2. However, these fundamental rights have come under threat in
many Council of Europe member States in recent years, in the context
of the economic crisis and austerity measures. In some countries,
the right to organise has been restricted, collective agreements
have been revoked, collective bargaining undermined and the right
to strike limited. As a consequence, in the affected countries,
inequalities have grown, there has been a persistent trend towards
lower wages, and negative effects on working and employment conditions
have been observed.
3. The Parliamentary Assembly is most concerned by these trends
and their consequences for the values, institutions and outcomes
of economic governance. Without equal opportunities for all in accessing
decent employment and without appropriate means of defending social
rights in a globalised economic context, the inclusion, development
and life chances of whole generations will be put into question.
In the medium term, the exclusion of certain groups from economic
development, the distribution of wealth and decision making could seriously
damage European economies and democracy itself.
4. Investing in social rights is an investment in the future.
In order to build and maintain strong and sustainable socio-economic
systems in Europe, social rights need to be protected and promoted.
5. In particular, the rights to bargain collectively and to strike
are crucial to ensure that workers and their organisations can effectively
take part in the socio-economic process to promote their interests
when it comes to wages, working conditions and social rights. “Social
partners” should be taken to mean just that: “partners” in achieving
economic performance, but sometimes opponents striving to find a
settlement concerning the distribution of power and scarce resources.
6. A change in mind-sets is required across Europe and beyond
if we are to overcome the current crisis situation and turn towards
a new economic era in the 21st century.
The Assembly therefore calls on the member States to take
the following measures to uphold the highest standards of democracy
and good governance in the socio-economic sphere:
protect and strengthen the rights
to organise, to bargain collectively and to strike by:
and implementing the European Social Charter (revised), if this
has not yet been done;
7.1.2 developing or revising their labour legislation to make
it comprehensive and solid with regard to these specific rights;
7.1.3 restoring these rights wherever institutions and processes
have already been undermined by recent legislative or regulatory
make economic stakeholders accountable for upholding the
rights to organise, to bargain collectively and to strike by:
7.2.1 ratifying and implementing the Additional Protocol to
the European Social Charter Providing for a System of Collective
Complaints (ETS No. 158), if this has not yet been done;
7.2.2 supporting the enforcement, through labour legislation,
of collective instruments such as “collective redress” (in particular
for trade unions), aimed at the prevention of unlawful business practices;
7.2.3 setting up or maintaining effective labour inspections,
supported by sufficient resources;
7.3 change the focus of current policies, by ending financial
and economic austerity policies and putting emphasis on proactive
investment policies, such as co-ordinated minimum levels of investment, stronger
involvement of social partners and the promotion of decent work
7.4 strive for the utmost coherence between decisions taken
in different institutional and judicial contexts, including in the
framework of the European Union, at the national level and at Council
of Europe level, so as to ensure the effectiveness of existing mechanisms
for the protection of social rights.