Ceccon, D. (2017). Are Collective Agreements around the World doing their Job in increasing Equality and Promoting Work/Family Balance Arrangements? The analysis from the WageIndicator Database. Working Paper for RDW 2017 Conference, WageIndicator

Ceccon, D. (2017). Are Collective Agreements around the World doing their Job in increasing Equality and Promoting Work/Family Balance Arrangements? The analysis from the WageIndicator Database. Working Paper for RDW 2017 Conference, WageIndicator Foundation, Amsterdam

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ABSTRACT

Women being discriminated because of pregnancy, working parents struggling to find the time to care for kids, employees whose career is spoiled by inequality in training opportunities: all over the world the lives of millions are affected by their working conditions.

The responsibility to provide decent working provisions concerns - among other actors - the governments: ratifying ILO conventions is the first step a country can take in this regard, followed by enacting suitable legal regulations and enforcing those effectively.

However, national labour law is often not sufficient, either because it doesn’t cover all of the issues affecting workers, or because it is too general. The role of collective bargaining could then be crucial to improve the effect of the labour law, by giving better provisions, tackling the issues in a more detailed way, and adapting the regulations for the workers of a specific sector or company. But is this really happening? Are collective agreements improving the provisions of national regulations? Where is this tool being used in the most effective way?

This paper strives to answer these questions, focusing in particular on the capability of collective bargaining in guaranteeing equality in the workplace and improving the lives of women workers (and/or other workers with difficult life-work balance conditions) around the world. Gender equality, paternity/maternity leave, childcare provisions, discrimination, and sexual harassment are among the topics examined in this research. The analysis covers the content of 700 recent collective agreements (valid in 2010 or later) coming from 46 countries in Africa, Latin America, Europe and South Asia. These agreements have been collected by the WageIndicator Foundation and are coded in the WageIndicator Collective Agreements Database, a work which is made possible by the contributions of several funders.
Clauses related to work and family balance arrangements are common in the analysed agreements: more than 80% of them have provisions on such topics. Continents and countries address each topic in a different way. For example, in some cases South Asian agreements are more advanced (like in clauses prohibiting discrimination and violence), and in other instances it is Africa that gives the best provisions, like in maternity-related clauses. Some countries are leading the way – each in a different topic - and could be taken as a model to follow: among others, Ghana (breastfeeding breaks), Costa Rica (paternity leave) and Indonesia (violence and discrimination, sexual harassment). Data also show that equality issues are not similarly addressed: less than half of the agreements contain clauses about that.