This article presents an estimation of the elasticity of actual wages to industry-level collective bargaining thereby quantifying empirically the role of industry-level bargaining on wage determination. For this purpose, we use a unique employer–employee panel dataset covering the entire Belgian employment population over 9 years (1998–2006). Like several other European countries, e.g. Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands, Belgium has a relatively centralised wage bargaining system, with the industry level playing the most important role. Regression results confirm that wage increases collectively decided at the industry level are, on average, fully passed on to individual wages. In addition to industry-level bargaining, we are interested in the supplementary wage increases granted at the firm level, referred to as wage drift or wage cushion in the literature. Our estimates show that wage drift is affected by company size, by the economic performance of the industry and to a much lesser extent by labour market tensions as measured by the local unemployment rate. Interestingly, our results show that industry-level bargaining also takes most of these features into account.