Turnout, "the big issue" in the social elections

By Camille FratiLex Kleren Switch to French for original article

According to Adrien Thomas, social science researcher at Liser, the mobilisation of employees for the forthcoming social elections is crucial for the weight of the Chambre des Salariés and the trade unions in the political and social debate.

Two elections in one are taking place on 12 March: on the one hand, the election of employee delegates in companies with more than 15 employees, and on the other, the election of members of the plenary assembly of the Chamber of Employees. This is a twofold challenge for the trade unions, who are counting on their presence in the companies and their bargaining power within the CSL. The CSL is also counting on increased participation to influence public debate.

Adrien Thomas, a specialist in industrial relations, explains the different trends at work. In the interests of transparency, we should point out that he is on the list presented by the OGBL within the Liser. However, his comments are those of the researcher and not those of the candidate.

Lëtzebuerger Journal: What is at stake in these social elections for the trade unions?

Adrien Thomas: As far as the elections to the Chamber of Employees are concerned, the main issue is turnout, which has been declining for a number of years now. In 2019, it fell to 33 per cent, with a particularly low turnout among cross-border workers and foreign residents. Will the Chamber of Employees and the trade unions represented within it succeed in reversing the trend and boosting turnout again? There has been a relatively extensive campaign on social networks, in the traditional media and also in terms of posters to encourage potential voters to take part in the vote. It remains to be seen how successful this approach will be.

For the elections of employee representatives within companies, it is difficult to give a general assessment given that these elections take place within companies and the specific context of each company plays a major role in these elections. The main issue is not the balance of power between the various trade unions present in the private sector. It is rather the question of the unionisation of staff representatives. Over the last few decades, we have seen an increasing number of neutral delegates or delegates who were not nominated by trade unions. At the end of the last elections in 2019, 57 per cent of delegates were in this situation. Of course, it is necessary to differentiate between companies: the larger they are, the greater the chances of seeing trade union representation and of seeing candidates elected on trade union lists, but the fact remains that we have seen a decline in the number of staff delegates put forward on trade union lists.

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