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France and Belgium have the most strikes

Workers in France are known for their willingness to stand up for their rights and for their ability to loudlytake the streets to protest. In terms of willingness to strike, they are only surpassed by their neighbours in Belgium.

According to research conducted by the Economic and Social Research Institute of the Hans Böckler Foundation, Belgium and France have the highest strike rates in the world. Specifically, between 2011 and 2020, Belgium had an average of around 97 days lost per 1,000 employees due to strikes, while France had slightly less at 93 days (though the data for 2020 is missing). In comparison, Germany had an annual average of only 18 days lost per 1,000 employees due to strikes. Other countries with high strike rates included Canada with 79 days, Finland with 52 days, and Spain with 48 days lost per 1,000 workers due to strikes.

Different recording methods

Countries like Germany, Poland, Sweden, Austria, and Switzerland have significantly lower numbers of strikes. However, accurate international comparisons are difficult to make. Italy and Greece haven’t kept track of strike statistics for several years and in other countries where national strike statistics are available, the data may be based on different recording methods.

The strike figures for France only concern the private sector (including state-owned enterprises), but also consider protest strikes. Protest strikes are organized to protest against the government's social policy decisions. As a result, strike statistics for France may appear higher than in other countries. For example, in Germany, such protest strikes are not legally permitted and are therefore not included in their strike statistics.

Strike statistics in Belgium also include protest strikes, unlike in some other countries. In Spain, the general strikes that took place in recent years to protest the government's austerity policy were not included in the national strike statistics. In the UK, the official statistics provided by the Federal Employment Agency only include work stoppages involving at least ten participants that last for one day. Similarly, in the USA, strike statistics only include strikes involving at least 1,000 participants. In Denmark, there are no minimum requirements, meaning that all strikes are included in their national statistics regardless of the number of participants or the length of the strike.

Advice on labour law abroad

Anyone who is employed by a company abroad is usually also subject to local labour law. This can also be the case in the case of a secondment. BDAE Consult's consultants analyse, review and optimise existing contractual structures from an employment law perspective, provide support in drafting contracts and reviewing clauses (e.g. secondment contracts, suspension agreements, parent company agreements) and assist with the reintegration of employees under employment law after their return from abroad (repatriation).

For more information, the BDAE Consult team will be happy to advise you!

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This article is from the 1/2023 issue of the magazine "Life Abroad".

The magazine is published four times a year free of charge with many informative articles on foreign topics.

It is published by the BDAE, the expert for protection abroad.