Many collective agreements contain opening clauses that allow works councils, often with the agreement of trade unions, to take into account the particular circumstances of their company. Thus, in 2018, the comparison of the metallurgical industry, which had 3.5 million employees, made it possible to delay, reduce or completely eliminate the cash payment of 400 euros due in 2019 in some companies in major difficulty. And the 2018 comparison for the chemical industry allowed companies to refrain from a lump sum payment of €280 if they could prove that they were facing particular economic difficulties A collective agreement, a collective agreement (CLA) or a collective agreement (CBA) is a written contract that, through collective bargaining for employees, has been concluded with the management of a company (or with an employers` organisation) and the conditions of staff at work. This includes regulating workers` wages, benefits and obligations, as well as the obligations and responsibilities of the employer or employer, and often involves rules relating to the dispute settlement procedure. This downward trend is partly explained by the fact that employers are leaving or otherwise remaining in employers` organisations, without being bound by the agreements they have signed (so-called membership of the OT), as well as by the creation of new enterprises and the disappearance of existing enterprises. (New firms are less likely to be bound by industry agreements than existing ones.) The decline in coverage appears to have been halted in East Germany, where it has remained broadly stable since 2012, but it has continued in West Germany, where total commercial coverage was 4 percentage points lower than in 2012 in 2018.  In Sweden, around 90% of employees are covered by collective agreements and 83% in the private sector (2017).   Collective agreements generally contain minimum wage provisions.    IAB figures also provide information on the proportion of enterprises and the proportion of employees covered by collective agreements. These show that 25% of jobs are covered by sectoral agreements and 2% by company agreements.
These numbers are lower than those of workers, as larger jobs are more likely to be covered by collective bargaining than smaller ones. In West Germany, only 22% of enterprises with up to nine employees are covered by collective agreements, either at sectoral or enterprise level, compared with 80% of enterprises employing 500 or more people. The parallel figures for East Germany are 13% (up to nine employees) and 76% (500 and over). Opening clauses allowing the works council to negotiate agreements that are less favourable than those defined in the inter-trade agreement to take account of the particular circumstances of its employer are considered an important means of making the system more flexible. The Pforzheim agreement signed by IG Metall in 2004, which was later incorporated into a more general collective agreement on job security, was a well-known example. .