EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life


EurWORK articles cover working life in Europe, in particular the fields of industrial relations and working conditions. The articles are based on quarterly reporting provided by the Network of Eurofound Correspondents.

  • Topical updates summarise and update developments around selected topics, which are relevant across a number of Member States at the same time
  • Spotlight reports cover in more depth country-level events, debates and changes in regulation related to working life, aiming to provide a balanced view of all parties’ positions
  • Research in Focus articles report on important research findings (including surveys) from the national level, often, but not exclusively, in the area of working conditions
  • In brief articles are short news items drawn from the correspondents' quarterly reports
  • Country updates summarise developments at national level and are published 4 times a year

549 items found
  • Banking sector in conflict over statutory working week

    In France, regulation of the working week is based on a piece of legislation passed in 1936, which laid down a work schedule spread over five days. Decrees on the application of this law made special provision, in each sector, for the way in which these hours would be organised. The one concerning banking dates from 1937.
  • IG Metall leader proposes a 32-hour week

    On 8 and 9 April 1997 the Confederation of German Trade Unions (Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, DGB) invited representatives from the trade unions, employers associations and main political parties to an "Employment summit". Just one year after the failure of the "Employment Alliance" (DE9702202F [1]), DGB aimed to renew the debate among the social partners and politicians on how to create new employment in Germany. In January 1996 the social partners and the Government had signed a joint statement in which all parties agreed on the central aim of halving unemployment by 2000. Since then, unemployment figures have not improved at all. On the contrary, in March 1997 nearly 4.5 million people were officially registered as unemployed - the highest March figure since 1945. [1]
  • Reduction of working time is key issue

    In the framework of negotiations for the two-year National General Collective Agreement covering the years 1996 and 1997, the GSEE (Greek General Confederation of Labour) trade union confederation placed on the agenda of discussions with the employers its demand for the reduction of weekly working hours to 35 without a reduction in pay. The negotiations led to the creation of a working party of technical experts from both sides of industry to study the issue and its effects on employment and competitiveness.
  • Labour Inspectorate report indicates increased compliance with law

    The annual report of the Labour Inspectorate (Arbeitsinspektion) for 1995, has now become available to the public after debate in parliament. The Arbeitsinspektion's activities are regulated by the 1993 Labour Inspection Act (Arbeitsinspektionsgesetz, ArbIG). This stipulates that the Labour Inspectorate has to contribute through its activities to an effective protection of employees, and especially has to watch over compliance with protective legal regulations and to inform and support employers and employees accordingly. The Labour Inspectorate has free access to all places of employment as well as housing and accommodation and welfare institutions. Exceptions are places of employment covered by other organisations - as in agriculture and forestry, mining, areas of the transport sector and public education - as well as religious buildings, private households, and offices of the territorial administration.
  • New collective agreement for hospitals

    At the end of February 1997, the social partners in Luxembourg's hospital sector concluded a new collective agreement in a "cooperative" atmosphere. The deal provides for pay increases and a reduction and reorganisation of working hours for 5,000 employees.
  • Agreement on working time at EDF and GDF

    On 21 January 1997, the two French electricity and gas public utility companies signed an agreement with three trade unions ( the CFDT, the CFTC and the CFE-CGC). This agreement is designed to improve their competitiveness and productivity while at the same time maintaining their workforce at current levels. This is to be achieved mainly through the introduction of part-time working. Both the CGT and the CGT-FO unions are strongly critical of this agreement.
  • Apparent breakdown of Belgian central bargaining

    For the first time since 1960, the Belgian social partners have failed to reach an intersectoral pay agreement and have instead accepted government imposition of measures on employment and maximum pay increases. This development runs counter to all traditions of free collective bargaining and the autonomy of both sides of industry. It also appears to reinforce the trend towards sector-level bargaining, away from intersectoral or central-level bargaining, thereby widening the disparities between strong and weak sectors.
  • Moves towards greater working time flexibility

    The central social partners - the Austrian Trade Union Confederation (Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund,ÖGB) and the Austrian Chamber of Commerce (Wirtschaftskammer Österreich, WKÖ), the statutory body grouping almost all nonagricultural enterprises - have for some time been discussing a range of changes to the 1969 Working Time Law (Arbeitszeitgesetz, AZG). The aim is to maintain competitiveness and employment by making possible a more uneven distribution of working hours over time, without financial penalty to the employer. This is expected to lead to higher productivity, better use of plant, lower inventories, and a capability to respond more swiftly to variations in demand. The trade unions also hope to achieve a reduction of hours worked by individual employees in favour of more employment.
  • Working time moves to the top of the agenda

    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.