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2008 - Open Coordination Method of wages in the Construction Industry

Without any doubt the development of “wages” is the primary concern of all workers and trade unions (not only in the construction industry, but in all sectors). The earned “salary” is the corner stone of the living standard of every worker and is one of the key elements that determines the final “quality of life” of every worker. As such, “wages” are the primary topic in collective bargaining in the construction industry. Often the acceptance of an agreement is determined by the wage increase.

One of the biggest problems is the assessment of the “real pay” compared to the local living conditions, standard of living and purchasing power . The research identified objective criteria which allows a European comparison of real “wages” in the construction industry. The second objective of the proposed study was the development of common instruments (benchmarks) for trade union negotiators during their wage negotiations at national level in the construction industry.

The project focused on gathering information on wages in the Construction industry from 9 countries (Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Finland, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Spain, Poland and Hungary) with the future aim to establish a wage overview from 30 countries (EU27 + Iceland, Norway and Switzerland).

The draft research report was presented and discussed during a seminar, entitled “Understanding and comparing wages in the construction industry". This seminar took place from 24 to 27 June 2009 in Berlin (Germany).
The aims of the seminar were:
– to present the EFBWW study on "actual wages in the construction sector"
– to present the EFBWW survey of collective agreements in the construction sector
– to hold an open internal EFBWW debate on actual wages in the construction sector
– to hold an open internal EFBWW debate on the possibility of European wage benchmarking in the construction sector

The research report and the seminar provided more information and experience to the EFBWW and its member organisations on the development, the composition and the structure of wages in the construction industry. The research and the discussion had a practical approach taking into account national fiscal instruments (taxes), purchasing power, the comparison between gross and net wages and wage drift.

The research paved the way for an internal discussion to develop common criteria on wages for the trade union negotiators and a common practical benchmark on “travel reimbursements”. These discussions are still ongoing within the EFBWW Standing Committee for the Construction Industry. Bearing in mind the political sensitivity for the national social partners to discuss openly their trade union strategies on how they negotiate wage increases, the EFBWW needs sufficient time to finalize this delicate discussion.

The research report on wages in the construction industry has without any doubt lead to a better understanding of each others wages and created a common understanding that there is a necessity to continuously exchange information.

The report on “Wages in the Construction Industry” is available in English, French and German and can be downloaded below:

Download the English version.



Download the French version.



Download the German version.





Open call for tender for the subcontracting of interpreting during the Seminar "Understanding and Comparing Wages in the Construction Industry": For more details see below:

Download the tender specifications.