Line Eldring and Kristin Alsos, Fafo Institute for Applied International Studies
This report was featured as a chapter in “GLOBAL WAGE DEBATES: POLITICS OR ECONOMICS?” a joint report co-authored by the global partners of JustJobs Network.
During the last decade, the topic of minimum wage regulation has gained new relevance in Europe. Massive labor mobility from east to west in the wake of the European Union enlargements in 2004 and 2007 have put pressure on existing national regulatory regimes, and the consequences of the financial crisis have had a brutal impact on several European labor markets. These developments have given rise to broad and fundamental questions about how employees can be ensured a decent wage level, and whether new approaches are required.
Both the European Parliament and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) have frequently debated a possible EU-wide minimum wage. The European trade union movement is united in its desire for decent and fair wages, but there is a strong division within the ETUC when it comes to the introduction of a European minimum wage policy. So far, the Nordic and Italian trade union confederations have strongly rejected this as a way forward. This report gives an overview of current- minimum-wage setting mechanisms in European countries and looks more specifically at why statutory minimum wage is causing such controversies in some of the countries that have the strongest trade unions in Europe.