Tuesday, 27.03.18 - Kossuth Klub

Development of wages in Europe: can we call it a success story?

In recent years, wage levels increased sharply in Central and East European economies. How sustainable is this positive trend and when can we expect a wage convergence across Europe? How to achieve increase in wages and what room for manoeuvre exists? These questions were discussed at an international conference organized by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Budapest on March 23, 2018.

In his opening lecture Professor Alfred Kleinknecht from the TU Delft pointed out that deregulation of the national labour market gave multinational corporations more flexibility. However,  in the long run reducing social responsibility of employers leads to considerable kowledge loss and declining productivity. Other speakers looked at international experiences of a national minimum wage, the correlation between wage levels and immigrant labour flows, and the effects of globalization of value chains on labour markets. It became clear that many people in Europe are not sufficiently involved in economic development. This fosters dissatisfaction, insecurity and fear of loss, which in turn gives impetus to populist movements. In his closing remarks, Luca Visentini, Secretary General of the European Trade Union Confederation, underlined the central role of coordinated collective bargaining, alongside stressing the importance of an EU-wide wage alliance. Ultimately "social dialogue" should dominate the social debate in order to strengthen democracy.

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