Leaflet - ETUC


Leaflet - ETUC

European workErs

deserve better pay

wages in Europe are caught in a downward

spiral: the share of wages in total income (gross

domestic product, GDP) is constantly shrinking.

In contrast, corporate profits and inequalities are

continually on the rise. There is plenty of money around,

but it is being distributed

more and more unequally.

The European Trade Union

Confederation (ETUC) says

‘stop’. ‘Stop’ to repeated

calls for wage moderation

and ‘stop’ to governments

and employers who tend

to use lower wages for

most workers as the only

adjustment variable when

times get difficult.

That is why the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) is launching a

European campaign on pay and is organising a Euro-demonstration

on 5 April 2008 in Ljubljana to call for higher wages. Europe’s trade

union movement will send this message to the European finance ministers meeting

in Slovenia the same day.

% of GDP

Wages down — Profits up

share of wages in GDP share of prots in GPD


(left hand scale) (right hand scale)








1995 1997 1999 2001 2003 2005 2007






Boulevard du Roi Albert II, 5 - 1210 Brussels

Tel + 32 2 224 04 11 - Fax + 32 2 224 04 54/55

E-mail : etuc@etuc.org - www.etuc.org



% of GDP







Wages down

Profits up

share of wages in GDP share of prots in GPD


(left hand scale) (right hand scale)




1997 1999 2001 2003 2005 2007

Look at the facts !





Highest paid

20 top managers

gain 300 times more

than the average EU worker













Annual average earnings


Pay 20 top managers

Wages down Profits up

wages in Europe:

the ugly facts

• For years, the purchasing power of

wages in Europe has been stagnating

1 . What is more, recent hikes in energy

and food prices, combined with

very low wage increases, are further

eroding wage earners’ purchasing


• European workers are increasingly

qualified and productive, but companies

alone profit from their skills. Since

1997, the share of profits in gross domestic

product (GDP) has increased

by over 3%. In absolute figures, that

represents a redistribution of income

towards profits profits amounting to

€2,500 per wage earner 2 !

• Inequalities are also soaring in Europe.

. In 2005, the top 20% income

group earned five times as much as the

20% with the lowest income. In 2000,

the gap between the richest and poorest

was limited to a factor of 3.5.

• Wage stagnation for a growing share

of the population contrasts with the

wealth of a minority: the 20 highest

paid chairmen of European groups

earn on average €8.5 million a year,

or 300 times as much as an average

European worker! Wealth is increasing

but wage distribution is unfairt.

• Women, young people and migrants

suffer more than others from wage

discrimination. There is a 15% wage

difference between men and women,

with no sign that this gap is shrinking.

• Thirty million workers in Europe - one

in seven 3 - receive low 4 wages. The

‘working poor’ phenomenon is on

the increase.

• Public sector workers have been particularly

affected by budget consolidation

policies. Wage moderation in this

sector is even more pronounced than

in the private sector. And now that public

budgets are back in order, these

same workers are once again urged

by finance ministers to set an example

by continuing to accept wage moderation.

1. Real cumulative wage increase

2. Figure valid for the euro zone

3. This represents 15%.

4. Defined as wages of less than

two thirds of a median wage.

The consequences for Europe:

a weakened economy and a divided society

• Excessive wage moderation threatens

the dynamics of domestic demand. It

is harmful to economic growth and job

creation. That is what is happening

now in many countries in Europe.

• The argument that today’s profits are

tomorrow’s investments and the following

day’s jobs is no longer valid in an

integrated European economy. Since

demand is low and threatens to stay

low, European companies sometimes

use their surplus profits to engage in financial

speculation, instead of ploughing

these profits into productive investments.

• The increase in precarious employment

contracts, workers’ insecurity and poverty

wages, and the absence of a fair

distribution between wages and profits

eat away at workers’ motivation and

their willingness to engage in innovation

and higher productivity in the


• The rising numbers of working poor illustrate

how the European social model

has been weakened by social dumping

and economic one-track thinking.

In Europe, there are now more working

poor than jobless poor: 18.9 million

compared to 6.9 million!

• Europe is in the process of losing the

globalisation battle. Competing with

countries like China through low wages

and precarious working conditions

is a fundamental mistake!

For all these reasons:

we say no to employers who pressure

workers to accept wage moderation

while not applying the same principles

to themselves.

We say no to those who attack the trade

unions because workers seek an increase

in purchasing power and in minimum


We say no to the finance ministers who

recommend a wage policy for public sec-

tor workers that cuts purchasing power

by preventing wages from keeping pace

with inflation.

We say no the European Central Bank

interfering with autonomous collective


what the EuroPEAN TrAdE uNIoNs demand:

better pay for a better Europe

• An increase in fair wages and in purchasing

power to stimulate the economy

and create more and better jobs

• Stronger collective bargaining so as to

put an end to the moderation strategies

that risk setting European workers against

one another

• True wage equality for men and women

• Equal pay for equal work for all workers,

including temporary workers and

posted workers

• Decent minimum wages that halt the exploitation

of the most vulnerable

• Wage moderation for upper management

and monitoring of the highest salaries

and soaring inequalities

• A fight against workers’ insecurity through

stronger rights for all

• More opportunities for lifelong learning.

In short, we want stronger, autono-

mous collective bargaining enabling

everyone to enjoy a fair share of the

fruits of growth.

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