National Labour Council (CNT-NAR)
- Paul Windey
- Jean-Paul Delcroix
The National Labour Council (CNT-NAR) was established by the Act of 29 May 1952 and is the successor of several other bodies, the oldest of which date back to the 19th century. These are the Labour Committee, set up in 1886, the Industry and Labour Councils, in 1887, the High Labour Council in 1892 and the Supreme Council of Labour and Social Provision, established in 1935. After the Second World War, a more important role was allocated to the representatives of the economic and social world, the Central Economic Council (CCE-CRB) was thus established in 1948, and the National Labour Council, created in 1952 to take over from the Joint General Council founded in 1944.
Similar to the Central Economic Council, the CNT-NAR groups together workers' and employers' organizations who represent business and labour interests in Belgium.
The Act of 29 May 1952 gave the CNT-NAR the following powers:
- the first, and by far the most important, consists in giving opinions or formulating proposals on social issues for the Belgian government and/or parliament;
- the second, residuary power, enables the CNT-NAR to issue opinions on conflicts about assignments that can arise between joint committees.
It may also use its own initiative to raise social issues of interest.
Since the entry into force of the Act of 5 December 1968, the CNT-NAR also has the power to negotiate collective bargaining agreements, either for all sectors of economic activity or for one of these sectors.
Furthermore, various laws also entitle the CNT-NAR to issue opinions or make preliminary proposals before the adoption of their implementing decrees. This is the case for individual and collective labour law (working hours, work contracts, wage protection, etc.) and for social security (social security obligations, the concept of earnings subject to contributions, pensions, etc.).
The CNT-NAR has 26 titular members and 26 substitute members. They are appointed by royal decree for a renewable, four-year term of office.
Seats are divided equally between the workers' and employers' organisations and only titular members are entitled to vote.
The CNT-NAR has a three-tier institutional structure, consisting of the Plenary Council, the Executive Board and the Committees. A Secretariat provides logistic and administrative support.
The CNT-NAR executive board is chosen by the council and made up of 10 members (the President, four vice-presidents, four councillors and the Secretary). Its role is to set the agenda for the council's work, to prepare the examination of agenda items, to define procedure, to monitor the implementation of the council's decisions and to submit annual budgetary proposals to the council. The executive board meets every month.
The actual work of the CNT-NAR is carried out by the committees, whose tasks are decided by the executive board. The council's members and substitute members participate in committees works and can use the help of experts.
The quasi-permanent working committees are: the Enterprise Councils Committee, the Individual Labour Relations Committee, the Collective Labour Relations Committee, the Social Security Committee and the International Labour Organisation Committee.
Given the competencies of the Central Council for the Economy, when issues of common interest with the Central Economic Council are examined, joint committees are set up, to whose meetings members of the two councils and experts are invited.
The Act of 29 May 1952, modified by the Act of 30 december 2009 on various dispositions, endowed the council with the administrative support required to accomplish its tasks, which are administered by the Secretariat.
At present, the secretariat employs a staff of thirty-five.
Their role is to ensure the day-to-day running of the institution and provide all necessary working documents.
During the Council's plenary session, which is held almost every month, collective bargaining agreements are negotiated and opinions and proposals are adopted.
For collective bargaining agreements, a quorum of at least half of the members of each group must be present. The agreements may be concluded by organisations represented by at least 90 % of the members which represent the employers and at least 90 % of the members which represent the workers.
The majority of opinions and proposals are adopted unanimously. When this is not the case, the different positions are officially included in the texts.