The role of private regulation and non-state actors in the enforcement of collective labour agreements

An example from the Netherlands

Herman H. Voogsgeerd, University of Groningen

» Full paper: ilera-2019-paper-243-Voogsgeerd.pdf

In the enforcement stage of collective labour agreements in the Netherlands we see an increasing influence of private actors. In 2005 the social partners in the sector of manpower agencies established the SNCU, a foundation to enforce the collective agreement in the sector (Stichting Naleving CAO voor Uitzendkrachten). This 'collective labour agreement police' as it is called in everyday language can issue sanctions up to 100.000 euro, even with retroactive force. Because the collective agreement has been declared universally applicable the rules of the foundaiton are to be found in the Dutch Staatscourant (2009, nr. 116 of 26 June 2009). The SNCU has two main purposes: to give information about the standards derived from the collective labour agreement and the promotion and overseeing of the enforcement of this agreement. This 'collective labour agreement police' has been effective and the example has been followed in other sectors in the Netherlands as well. Mala fide manpower agencies ended up in a stat of insolvency or decided to stop their activities after successful actions by the SNCU.

In this paper this experience with 'private enforcement' in the Netherlands for more than 10 years will be evaluated. Courts in the Netherlands have accepted and supported the arguments of the SNCU during legal proceedings. is this private enforcement also effective in cross-border cases within the EU? Is it a good alternative for public enforcment or are public-private mixes to be preferred?