De Unie, in your interest
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Cao Unilever 2018-2019: The difference is too big.

No basis for further negotiation without a new mandate from the members. 

In this message we will inform you of the state of affairs regarding the collective labor agreement consultations with your employer Unilever. The essence of this is that Unilever and De Unie are too far apart at the moment to proceed with the consultation at all. The gap is now too wide, both in terms of content and vision. That is why we have decided to go back to the members, physically and virtually, to ask them for a (new) mandate.

On Thursday, August 30, 2018 and Tuesday, September 18, 2018, the first two collective bargaining meetings took place between Unilever and De Unie. During the first consultation, Unilever explained its position in these negotiations and has De Unie explained its proposals. In the second meeting, Unilever gave its integral response to our proposals. It has become clear to us from that response that the negotiations will be difficult, because positions are far apart on important points and do not seem to be reconciled. It is true that things are often difficult at Unilever, but this time your employer seems to be performing even "better".

Vision of Unilever

Unilever has stated for 2 to 3 years that the company is not doing well. The growth in turnover has decreased by 2012% in recent years (2017-0,5). Profit growth for the Netherlands is 2%, according to Unilever, while wage costs are rising faster. In addition, its terms of employment package is 20% above the market, according to Unilever. Unilever also wants to try to keep its last factory in the Netherlands, but wages will not have to rise too much for that. Finally, Unilever states that wage increases in the past 10 years have been higher than the average given in the Netherlands. Namely an average of 1,95% versus an average of 1,66%. A difference of 0,29%. Together, this justifies very moderate wage growth, according to Unilever.

Unilever proposals

Based on its vision, Unilever comes to the following proposals:

  • Expand the number of employees on the Unilever contract in Hellendoorn by approximately 20 FTEs;
  • Extend partner leave for childbirth from 2 to 5 days;
  • Continuing agreements about deploying employees with an occupational disability;
  • Include agreements on, among other things, senior staff scheme, career scan, personal learning account, financial photo, development opportunities for non-permanent employees in a study on Sustainable Employability and include the results in the next collective labor agreement;
  • No additional agreements about this vakbonds contribution or support international vakbondspray projects;
  • Wage increase of 1,6% as of December 1, 2018. On an annual basis this is 0,97%.

reaction De Unie

De Unie recognizes that expanding the number of permanent employees in Hellendoorn and extending partner leave are positive things. For the sake of completeness, we would like to add the comment that, in our view, expanding the number of jobs in Hellendoorn is completely separate from the collective labor agreement discussion. It is a (nice!) Measure, but one that was badly needed for a long time and prompted by business interests. Legitimate business interests, by the way. We also welcome the extension of partner leave.

We can also agree that some of the by De Unie Proposals submitted by other trade unions will be included in the Sustainable Employability study. Some, but not all. Especially if you think that the agreements that were made on paper a few years ago about Sustainable Employability, are still patiently waiting on paper for implementation and have therefore cost zero euros. Apart from these two issues, we have to conclude that the gap between what we ask and what Unilever offers is too great to seriously believe that we can reach an agreement. Unilever is eager to compare what suits it best with the market. I would like to note that the 1,66% wage increase of the last 10 years is about the average of the market sector in the Netherlands.

In between were / are companies and industries that have been in much more difficult times than Unilever. Other comments have also been made with regard to wage costs on Merit and RAB. I don't want this long newsletter to get any longer and get too technical. If you have any questions about the Merit and RAB comments, please ask them at the members' meetings or via e-mail. In any case, my observation is that in many cases it appears that Unilever lacks historical awareness with regard to the employment conditions file.

Back to the members

The trade unions will be holding member meetings in the coming period to discuss the state of affairs in the collective labor agreement negotiations. In Vlaardingen, a members' meeting is already planned on Wednesday 26 September at 14.00 p.m. in the auditorium about the voluntary departure arrangement. Then we also want to talk directly about the collective labor agreement. Member meetings about the collective labor agreement will be planned for Rotterdam and Hellendoorn, expected in October / early November 2018. Invitations will follow. The next CLA consultation is scheduled for Tuesday, November 13, 2018, and then we want to have a clear idea in consultation with the members whether and, if so, how we can proceed with the CLA.


If you have any questions and / or comments regarding the above, you can contact Marco Vallebella by e-mail