These are dark times for trade unions and workers. They face a strong and European wide political consensus claiming that Member States should exit the crisis by cutting wages and weakening collective bargaining systems. The old and ancient instrument of a devaluation of the national currency is to be replaced with wage devaluations.
In Portugal, Spain and Greece, this consensus is already in place. Employers there now have several possibilities to lower wages. They can easily get out from higher level collective agreements and renegotiate lower wage standards at company level. It is even possible for management to completely circumvent representative trade unions and strikes or impose deals with ‘committees of workers’ or individual workers instead.