Sector social dialogue

The Hungarian version of this page contains general information on the composition, conferences and workshops and other activities of the Hungarian Chemical Industry Social Dialogue Committee established in 2005.



Representativeness of the European social partner organisations:Chemical sector


This study aims to provide the necessary information to encourage sectoral social dialogue in the chemical sector. The goal of Eurofound’s series of representativeness studies is to identify the relevant national and supranational social partner organisations in the field of industrial relations in selected sectors. Hence, the study identifies the relevant national social partner organisations in the chemical sector via a top-down approach (listing the members of the European affiliations) and a bottom-up approach through Eurofound’s network of European correspondents.

A national sector-related organisation is included in this study if it is either regularly involved in sector-related collective bargaining and/or affiliated to a sector-related European association of business or labour on the European Commission’s list of European social partner organisations consulted under Article 154 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), and/or participates in the sector-related European social dialogue.

Defining the sector

For the purpose of this study, the chemical sector is defined in terms of the Statistical Classification of Economic Activities in the European Community (NACE), to ensure the cross-national comparability of the findings. More specifically, the chemical sector is defined as embracing NACE (Rev. 2) 20, 21 and 22. This includes the following activities: 20 Manufacture of chemicals and chemical products; 21 Manufacture of basic pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations; 22 Manufacture of rubber and plastic products. 

According to this definition, the organisations listed by the European Commission as a social partner organisation

Executive summary 

consulted under Article 154 of the TFEU are, on the employees’ side, the trade union confederation IndustriAll and, on the employers’ side, the European Chemical Employers Group (ECEG).

National level of interest representation

A pluralist associational system prevails on the employee side in 22 of the EU Member States in the chemical sector. In total, 75 sector-related trade unions have been identified. There is a fragmented landscape: in six countries, one sector-related trade union is recorded; in 11 countries, two are recorded; in five countries, three are observed; six countries record four or more sector-related unions.

Some 57 sector-related employers’ organisations are identified, with: 18 countries recording only one employer organisation; two recording two employer organisations; three recording three employer organisations; three having four or more employer organisations. Thus, a pluralist associational system exists to a lesser extent on the employer side.

As far as domain demarcation is concerned, there are differences between trade unions and employer associations. For the trade unions, sectionalism overlap (49%) and overlap (41%) prevail. For the employer organisations, domain tends to be narrower. Thus, sectionalism is the most widespread domain pattern (39%).

Sectoral density rates for the unions are available for 44 out of the 75 cases. Statistics show that more than half of the unions with available information record low or very low sectoral densities (less than 10%). Sectoral densities widely differ between countries. Nordic countries record relatively high sectoral densities while most of the Member States that joined after 2004 record low sectoral densities (of less than 10%).

Sectoral densities of the employer organisations are low, with only three employer organisations showing a sectoral domain density in terms of companies that exceed 40%. When information is available for both kinds of densities, the sectoral domain densities of companies tends to be lower than the densities in terms of employees. That could indicate a slightly higher propensity of the larger companies to associate, as compared with their smaller counterparts.

In terms of the sector’s collective bargaining coverage, the situation differs widely by country. One group of 12 countries, out of 22 countries with available data, records high rates of collective bargaining coverage, exceeding 80%. A second group of six countries records collective bargaining coverage rates that vary between 40% and 70%. Finally, a third group of four countries record collective bargaining coverage rates lower than 20%. The most powerful factor that explains high collective bargaining coverage rates is the predominance of multi-employer bargaining. Similarly, the predominance of single-employer bargaining explains the lowest coverage rates.

European level of interest representation

IndustriAll Europe has 43 direct affiliations in 23 of the countries under consideration and all of them are involved in sectoral collective bargaining. Moreover, all the unions affiliated to IndustriAll Europe cover the sector in all the regions of their countries except in the case of CNE-GNC and LBC-NVK in Belgium, which are active only in some regions.

ECEG has 18 sectoral affiliations in 18 countries. Some 17 employer organisations affiliated to ECEG are involved in sectoral collective bargaining. However, all the employer organisations affiliated to ECEG cover the sector in all the regions of their countries, except SCHP ČR (in the Czech Republic), which is active only in some regions.

Other European-level organisations

On the employee side, there are several European organisations other than IndustriAll Europe. There are four European organisations, which cover at least three countries: the European Federation of Public Service Union (EPSU); the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions (EFFAT); Uni Europa; and the European Federation of Managers in the Chemical and Allied Industries (FECCIA). EFFAT is present in five countries while EPSU, Uni Europa and FECCIA are present in three countries. The presence of these organisations reflects the overlapping domains of many trade unions, because they do not claim to attract unions belonging to the chemical sector. The exception is FECCIA, which claims to attract managers from the chemical sector.

With regard to the employer organisations, there are two European associations that cover at least three countries: the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC); and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). According to the bottom-up approach, these two European organisations, which claim to attract companies from the chemical sector, are present in 13 countries (CEFIC) and five countries (EFPIA). It is worth noting that CEFIC is a trade association that deals with interests other than those related to industrial relations. However, the bottom-up approach might have underestimated the number of organisations affiliated to CEFIC. Indeed, CEFIC is present in 22 EU countries.


Top-down and bottom-up analyses of the chemical sector in the EU28 show that IndustriAll Europe, on the employees’ side, and ECEG on the employers’ side ought to be regarded as the most important EU-wide representatives of the employers and employees within the sector.

Further information

The report Representativeness of the European social partner organisations: Chemical sector is available at

For more information, contact Peter Kerckhofs, Research Officer, at