EU Level developments
- 21 Dec 2012
EU Level: Ruling restricts paid leave for short-time workers
Two workers who went to the European Court of Justice over the non-payment of annual leave have lost their case. The pair had been employed by German firm Kaiser GmbH, but were made redundant during restructuring in 2009. The works council, however, agreed that the pair should be put on contracts as ‘zero hours short-time workers’ for a year, meaning they could still claim a salary. However, the workers said they should also receive compensation for unpaid annual leave.
- 07 Nov 2012
EU Level: Commission launches consultation on transnational company agreements
On 10 September 2012, the European Commission launched a multi-stakeholder consultation on transnational company agreements (TCAs). It invited all interested parties to share their views, in particular on ways to support those involved in TCAs to achieve more legal certainty in the way such agreements are applied. Improvements in implementing TCAs and finding better ways to forge links with other levels of social dialogue were also an important part of the consultation.
- 12 Oct 2012
EU Level: Banking group’s agreement on employment and social management of change
In July 2012, the French banking group BNP Paribas signed its first European Framework Agreement with unions. The deal is the first step for BNP Paribas towards the group’s first social charter. The initial agreement deals with employment and the management of change, but future talks will focus on furthering equal opportunities and tackling psychosocial risk factors. As part of the initiative the group has promised dialogue and transparency in its dealings with social partners.
- 05 Oct 2012
EU Level: Deadline for working time negotiations extended
In August 2012, the European Commission announced that the deadline for the EU-level cross-sector negotiations on the revision of the Working Time Directive would be extended to 31 December 2012, given that progress was being made in the negotiations. Social partners are focusing on reaching an agreement on issues surrounding maximum working times and on-call working. It is thought that an end to the long search for agreement on revision of the directive may be close.
- 06 Sep 2012
EU Level: Employment Council discusses opposition to regulation on collective action
The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council met in Luxembourg in June 2012 and discussed a range of issues, including the negative response from 12 Member States to a proposed regulation on the right to collective action, linked to a proposal on the enforcement of the posted workers directive. Their objections have triggered the ‘yellow card’ procedure, meaning that the draft regulation must be reviewed. Progress on EU employment policy, health and safety issues, demographic challenges and gender equality were also on the agenda.
- 10 Aug 2012
EU Level: Paid leave rights of sick workers upheld
The European Court of Justice ruled in June 2012 that when workers are too ill to work during paid annual leave, they are entitled to reclaim that leave later to compensate for the days during which they were sick. The ruling, which has been prompted by a case brought by unions in Spain, also makes it clear that entitlement to paid annual leave is an important principle of EU social law enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and cannot be interpreted restrictively.
- 25 Jul 2012
EU Level: GDF Suez signs Europe-wide agreement on gender equality
In June 2012, GDF Suez, the France-based energy and utilities multinational, signed a European agreement on equality between women and men with three European-level trade union federations. The company hopes the groundbreaking agreement will make a significant contribution to ensuring equal pay for work of equal value for men and women at every level of the company, increase the proportion of women on permanent contracts, and give all workers a better work–life balance.
- 18 Jul 2012
EU Level: Joint declaration on impact of change in postal sector
In April 2012, the EU-level postal employers’ organisation, PostEurop, and the European trade union federation, UNI Europa Post & Logistics, signed a new joint declaration underlining the need to better manage the impact of changes in the structure of postal services across Europe. The joint declaration, signed on 18 April 2012, aims to tackle the problems faced by postal operators and their workers created by the opening up of the EU postal market and the impact of new technology.
- 06 Jul 2012
EU Level: New EU-level trade union created
A new trade union, industriAll, was created on 16 May 2012 following a merger of the European Metalworkers’ Federation (EMF), the European Chemical Trade Union (EMCEF) and the European Federation for Textiles, Clothing and Leather (ETUF-TCL). This huge new trade union, representing around eight million workers, officially came into being on 1 June 2012 after a process of increasing cooperation among the three unions. Its aims are to fight for employment growth and social progress.
- 08 Jun 2012
EU Level: Commission launches Programme for Social Change and Innovation
In late February 2012, the European Commission launched its Programme for Social Change and Innovation, the aim of which is to support employment and social policy in the EU. The programme focuses on the challenges posed by high unemployment rates, poverty, social exclusion and the ageing population. It will integrate three existing Commission-managed programmes, PROGRESS, the European employment services EURES and the European Progress Microfinance Facility.
- 01 Jun 2012
EU Level: Commission proposes new rules for posted workers
On 21 March 2012, the European Commission issued proposals for new rules governing workers posted from one country to another within the European Union. The aim is to increase protection for these workers, and to clarify the debate about the way in which ECJ case law has created clashes between employment rights and the principle of freedom to provide services. Three recent ECJ cases have examined how workers’ rights may be at odds with the rights of businesses to post workers abroad.
- 01 Jun 2012
EU Level: Hairdressing sector devises health and safety pact
The European social partners in the hairdressing sector, Coiffure EU for employers and the union UNI Europa Hair & Beauty, signed an agreement on health and safety on 26 April 2012. It covers issues such as the use of chemicals and irritating substances, ergonomics and working time, and will be implemented by a European directive to become binding in Member States. It reinforces protection for pregnant women and calls on suppliers to research ways of producing less harmful products.
- 25 May 2012
EU Level: New EU agreement on employment rights for footballers
In mid-April 2012, social partners representing both clubs and players in Europe’s professional football sector signed an agreement setting out minimum requirements for contracts between clubs and players. It sets out obligations for both sides and contains sections on anti-doping, players’ contracts, action against racism and disciplinary procedures. It is hoped the agreement will help set minimum standards across Europe, particularly in eastern Europe.
- 17 May 2012
EU Level: Commission presents proposals for a job-rich recovery
In mid-April 2012, the European Commission presented an employment package designed to boost job creation across the EU, in response to the damaging effects of the economic crisis on Europe’s labour market. The package presents ideas for ways in which Member States can encourage recruitment, such as cutting taxes on labour or supporting business start-ups. It also identifies areas with the greatest employment potential including the green economy, health services and ICT.
- 23 Apr 2012
EU Level: Commission publishes White Paper on sustainable pensions
In February 2012, the European Commission published a White Paper looking at how to create adequate, safe and sustainable pensions in the European Union. The White Paper contains a range of hard and soft initiatives intended to help create conditions that will enable a balance between time spent working and time in retirement, to ensure that those who move to another country can keep their pension rights, and to help people obtain adequate pensions once they are retired.
- 23 Apr 2012
EU Level: New social dialogue committee for food and drink industry
On 23 January 2012, the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions and the employer organisation FoodDrinkEurope signed a joint agreement to launch social dialogue in the European food and drink industry, under the auspices of the European Commission. The sector was the last of Europe’s large manufacturing sectors to form a social dialogue committee and its first task is to address ways of making the sector more attractive to younger workers.
- 05 Apr 2012
EU Level: Commission to consult on boardroom gender imbalance
The European Commission has been working on redressing the gender imbalance in company decision-making for some time, although progress has been slow. On 5 March 2012 it launched a consultation of stakeholders on the issue, which will run until 28 May 2012. It will feed into an assessment of possible EU-level measures to enhance female participation in economic decision-making, and will help the Commission decide whether to propose action and what form such action might take.
- 05 Apr 2012
EU Level: New agreement on working time in inland waterways
On 15 February 2012, the EU-level social partners in the inland waterways sector signed an agreement setting out specific rules governing working time for workers on passenger or cargo transport ships in inland waterways across the EU. The agreement, which was amicably reached by the partners, covers weekly working time, night working, holidays and daily and weekly rest periods. The agreement means that the Working Time Directive will no longer apply to this sector.
- 30 Mar 2012
EU Level: Commission issues 2012 work programme
The European Commission issued its 2012 work programme in mid-November 2011, in which it sets out its priorities in the employment and social affairs field for 2012. Key issues it will focus on include restructuring, flexicurity and the labour market, in the context of an ongoing challenging economic environment. The Commission makes it clear that youth unemployment remains one of the most pressing challenges the Union faces and aims to address this with various actions.
- 21 Mar 2012
EU Level: European Commission launches new consultation on restructuring
The European Commission has launched a Europe-wide public debate on corporate restructuring and anticipating change that will run until 30 March 2012. This initiative is something of a surprise as the President of the Commission, José Manuel Barroso, stressed in October 2010 the need for a European framework on this matter. However, instead of launching a formal second consultation with social partners, the Commission has proceeded with a broader Green Paper instead.
- 14 Mar 2012
EU Level: Commission launches Youth Opportunities Initiative
The European Commission Youth Opportunities Initiative, launched on 20 December 2011, is aimed at tackling youth unemployment in the European Union. It supports helping unemployed and inactive young people into stable work or training by encouraging better targeting of funds; boosting apprenticeships and traineeships and promoting youth mobility. This supports schemes to ensure young people are in work, education or training within four months of leaving school.
- 21 Feb 2012
EU Level: Danish Presidency sets out social and employment objectives
The Danish government, which holds the Presidency of the European Council for the first six months of 2012, has set out its main priorities in the field of employment and social affairs, and good progress is expected. They include strengthening the enforcement of the posted workers directive, progression of the proposal for a directive on equal treatment outside the workplace and the proposal to amend the directive on electromagnetic waves to protect specific workers.
- 03 Feb 2012
EU Level: Social partners in audiovisual sector promote gender equality
The social partners represented in the sectoral social dialogue committee for the audiovisual sector have adopted a Framework of Actions on Gender Equality. At its plenary meeting on 27 October 2011, the committee acknowledged the influence the sector has on the lives of all Europeans and drew up an agreement that covers both gender portrayal in the sector’s output and furthering equality on issues such as pay, decision-making, and work–life balance in its own workplaces.
- 30 Jan 2012
EU Level: Social partners launch review of Working Time Directive
On 14 November 2011, the EU-level social partners agreed to start negotiations to revise the Working Time Directive. This follows the Commission’s second stage of social partner consultation on this issue, launched in December 2010. The key issues under discussion by social partners representing Europe’s employers and trade unions include on-call working, the opt-out clause for the 48-hour week, and interpretations of European Court of Justice’s rulings on the Directive.
- 09 Jan 2012
EU Level: AXA signs European framework agreement on structural change
French global insurance group AXA has concluded a European framework agreement on anticipating change in the industry. The group-level framework agreement is to help guide the group’s European companies. This accord has also been used by the group’s subsidiary, AXA Assistance, as the basis of another agreement dealing with major changes in its business model. The agreements, signed on 14 and 30 September respectively, were approved by the social partners on 23 November 2011.
- 04 Jan 2012
EU Level: ETUC marks 50 years of the European Social Charter
A list of improvements to the lives and working conditions of people in Europe was published in October 2011 to mark the 50th anniversary of the European Social Charter (ESC). The European Trade Union Confederation adopted a resolution describing how the ESC has protected fundamental workers' rights since its adoption on 18 October 1961 by the Council of Europe, and calling on Member States to abide by the charter’s standards, especially in the current economic crisis.