The immediate catalyst for the current prominence of working time in UK
industrial relations is the failure in November 1996 of the Government's
attempt to have the EU Directive on certain aspects of the organisation of
working time (Council Directive 93/104/EC of 23 November 1993) annulled by
the European Court of Justice (ECJ). Steps are being taken to implement the
Directive, though the present Conservative Government hopes to get the
Directive "disapplied" if it wins the forthcoming general election. Also
important, however, is the growing debate about the implications for the
well-being of individuals and their families of the fact that UK's hours of
work are long in comparison with other EU member states.
According to a recent analysis by the Institute for Economics and Social
Science (Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftliches Institut, WSI) basic wages
and salaries in western Germany grew on average by about 2.3% in 1996. Thus,
pay increased by about 0.8 percentage points above the inflation rate, which
stood at 1.5% in 1996. Altogether, about 15.1 million employees were covered
by collective agreements signed in 1996. The highest pay increases, at 2.8%,
were in the energy and water industry and in the iron and steel industry. The
lowest increases were in banking (1.5%), post and telecommunications (1.4%)
and public services (1.3%).
On Sunday 2 February 1997, a so-called "multicoloured march for jobs" drew
about 50,000 people from all over Belgium to the streets of Clabecq, a small
industrial town on the borders of the provinces of Brabant and Hainaut.
The end of 1996 and the first two months of 1997 were marked by a wave of
strikes that began last November and December, upsetting the relative
industrial calm that had existed over recent years. The strikes peaked during
January but continued throughout February, for at least certain groups of
employees, though by then they had begun to peter out. The strikes represent
basically a head-on clash with the Government's policy of austerity, and
focus primarily on discontent with the tax system and a recently-passed tax
law. This clash also acquired a political character, since the demands of
workers across various sectors converged and merged within the wider context
The Dutch Government wants to allow employers temporary exemptions from the
legal minimum wage  (WML- wettelijk minimumloon), and to that end, a bill
was submitted to Parliament in 1996. The target group consists of long-term
unemployed people aged between 20 and 65. The purpose of the bill is to give
such people the prospect of qualifying for a full-time job while working. The
definition of "long-term unemployed" is taken from an existing statutory
The primary objectives of Partnership 2000 (P2000) are: " the continued
development of an efficient modern economy capable of high and sustainable
economic and employment growth and operating within the constraints of
international competitiveness, ensuring that Irish society becomes more
inclusive, that long-term unemployment is substantially reduced, and that the
benefits of growth are more equally distributed. The strategy provides a
framework within which specific issues or programmes will be developed, in
the normal way."
The new decree, issued on 14 January, brings Italian pensions legislation
more into line with the rest of the EU. Presenting the decision to the press,
the Minister of Labour, Tiziano Treu said that "1997 will be the year in
which a real supplementary social security system will begin to be set up in
On 19 February, Arbio, the employers' association for the forestry industry,
sued the Swedish Paper Workers' Union before the Labour Court. Formally, the
parties are arguing over a sum of less than SEK 50, though in practice the
case concerns an unlimited amount of money. This is a test case, and the
question that the Court has to address is: how is the collective agreement on
sick pay for employees in the paper industry to be interpreted?
Three independent pay review bodies were created more than 25 years ago in
what has been described as an attempt "to remove a range of highly sensitive
settlements from the political arena" (P Bassett, /The Times,/ 7 February
1997). They recommended pay increases for doctors and dentists, the most
senior grades in the armed forces, the civil service and the judiciary, and
for the rest of the armed forces. The pay review system assumed greater
importance when it was extended to cover nearly 500,000 nurses, midwives and
other health service professionals in 1983 and a similar number of
schoolteachers in England and Wales in 1992. In both cases, the creation of
pay review bodies followed lengthy disputes and a history of repeated failure
of the negotiating machinery to produce agreement on pay settlements without
frequent arbitration or periodic special enquiries.
On 6 February 1997, the Bundesverband Druck employers' association and the
Industriegewerkschaft Medien trade union signed two new nationwide collective
agreements for the 130,000 manual workers in the German printing industry.
The first agreement covers the general developments of wages, and the second
agreement is a renewal of the sector's general framework agreement on
employment conditions  (Manteltarifvertrag).
Eurofound’s work on COVID-19 examines the far-reaching socioeconomic implications of the pandemic across Europe as they continue to impact living and working conditions. A key element of the research is the e-survey, launched in April 2020, with five rounds completed at different stages during 2020, 2021 and 2022. This is complemented by the inclusion of research into the ongoing effects of the pandemic in much of Eurofound’s other areas of work.
Eurofound's representativeness studies are designed to allow the European Commission to identify the ‘management and labour’ whom it must consult under article 154 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). This series consists of studies of the representativeness of employer and worker organisations in various sectors.
This series reports on developments in minimum wage rates across the EU, including how they are set and how they have developed over time in nominal and real terms. The series explores where there are statutory minimum wages or collectively agreed minimum wages in the Member States, as well as minimum wage coverage rates by gender.
The European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) launched in 1990 and is carried out every five years, with the latest edition in 2015. It provides an overview of trends in working conditions and quality of employment for the last 30 years. It covers issues such as employment status, working time duration and organisation, work organisation, learning and training, physical and psychosocial risk factors, health and safety, work–life balance, worker participation, earnings and financial security, work and health, and most recently also the future of work.
The European Restructuring Monitor has reported on the employment impact of large-scale business restructuring since 2002. This series includes its restructuring-related databases (events, support instruments and legislation) as well as case studies and publications.
Eurofound’s Flagship report series 'Challenges and prospects in the EU' comprise research reports that contain the key results of multiannual research activities and incorporate findings from different related research projects. Flagship reports are the major output of each of Eurofound’s strategic areas of intervention and have as their objective to contribute to current policy debates.
Eurofound’s European Company Survey (ECS) maps and analyses company policies and practices which can have an impact on smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, as well as the development of social dialogue in companies. This series consists of outputs from the ECS 2019, the fourth edition of the survey. The survey was first carried out in 2004–2005 as the European Survey on Working Time and Work-Life Balance.
This series reports on and updates latest information on the involvement of national social partners in policymaking. The series analyses the involvement of national social partners in the implementation of policy reforms within the framework of social dialogue practices, including their involvement in elaborating the National Reform Programmes (NRPs).
This series reports on the new forms of employment emerging across Europe that are driven by societal, economic and technological developments and are different from traditional standard or non-standard employment in a number of ways. This series explores what characterises these new employment forms and what implications they have for working conditions and the labour market.
The European Company Survey (ECS) is carried out every four to five years since its inception in 2004–2005, with the latest edition in 2019. The survey is designed to provide information on workplace practices to develop and evaluate socioeconomic policy in the EU. It covers issues around work organisation, working time arrangements and work–life balance, flexibility, workplace innovation, employee involvement, human resource management, social dialogue, and most recently also skills use, skills strategies and digitalisation.