European Commission report on Industrial relations in Europe stresses the role of collective bargaining in reducing the gender pay gap

This 2008 report shows that on average the gender pay gap decreased in the majority of the EU Member States. The only exceptions are Germany, Denmark, Italy and Finland, where the gender pay gap increased. In Estonia, Austria, Portugal, Slovakia and the United Kingdom the gender pay gap stayed the same. The gender pay gap in 2006 varied from some 4 % in Malta to 25 % in Estonia.

In general, Member States can be divided into three different groups. The first group, with a gender pay gap below 10 % in 2006, consists of Belgium, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Romania and Slovenia.

The second group, with a gender pay gap between 11 % and 20 % consists of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Spain, France, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Hungary, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Finland and Sweden.

The third group, containing all countries with a gender pay gap above 20 %, consists of Germany, Estonia, Cyprus, Slovakia and the United Kingdom.

Another interesting finding is the strong reduction of the gender pay gap since 2000 in majority of Member States.

The report states the role of collective bargaining coverage and their robust, negative effect on the gender pay gap, indicating that the greater the proportion of the labour force that are subject to collective bargaining agreements, the lower the gender pay gap.

The report stresses that union density is the single most important factor influencing wage inequality across institutional contexts. It sees its effects are consistently egalitarian and greater than those of any other institutional factors.

The report calls on the need for more data to be able to define the causes of the gender pay gap and their interrelations with institutional settings.

Read the report: