In 2016, the chemical industry became the first industry to agree on sector-specific collective agreements as part of a competitiveness agreement.
The unions agreed that the annual working time would be increased by 24 hours while the level of earnings would remain unchanged. This would be implemented according to local agreements. It was the first time that the terms and conditions of employment had to be change in a way that made them less favourable for the employees.
The local negotiations were carried out under unusual public scrutiny and pressure. It was challenging, but according to the companies, it was also rewarding: many companies had to agree on measures to increase productivity on the level of employment conditions for the first time. The keys to successful solutions have been trust, open-mindedness, recognition of the common good and a culture of cooperation. The view within the chemical industry was also that the preparedness for local agreements improved as a result of the process.