UNICE to open talks on temporary agency work
On 3 May 2000, the Union of Industrial and Employers' Confederations of Europe (UNICE) formally announced its decision to open European-level negotiations on the subject of temporary agency work.
TheUnion of Industrial and Employers' Confederations of Europe (UNICE) announced a decision to enter into European-level talks on the issue of temporary agency work on 3 May 2000, following intensifying pressure from the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) to make a decision. In a letter sent to UNICE in mid-April, ETUC general secretary Emilio Gabaglio maintained that: "We cannot accept any further delaying tactics by UNICE. If UNICE is incapable of giving us a clear answer between now and 30 April on whether these negotiations will be entered into or not, the ETUC will ask the Commission to do its duty in going ahead with a legislative initiative on the subject." The European Centre of Enterprises with Public Participation and of Enterprises of General Economic Interest (CEEP) and the European Association of Craft and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (UEAPME) had already indicated their willingness to negotiate
ETUC has been keen to begin negotiations on the regulation of temporary agency work since the conclusion of the social partners' agreement on the issue of fixed-term contracts in March 1999 (EU9903162N), which was implemented by an EU Directive (EU9907181F). A social partners' accord and subsequent Directive in this area would, ETUC maintains, complete the topics covered under the European Commission's original social partner consultation on the issue of "atypical" work, initiated in 1996. The agreement on part-time work, concluded in June 1997 (EU9706131F), and the fixed-term contracts accord were both negotiated within the framework of this consultation exercise.
UNICE has acted with caution over the past few months and although it has now stated its willingness to enter into European-level social partner talks, its president, Georges Jacobs, said that: "If trade unions are serious about putting Europe back on the track of full employment, they must recognise that temporary agency work is an integral part of well-functioning labour markets and part of the solution to Europe's problems." Indicating the likely concerns of UNICE during the forthcoming negotiations, he added that "in many Member States, temporary agency work is still constrained by outdated restrictions." However, he stressed that "employers are prepared to discuss how to avoid unfair discrimination of temporary agency workers."