Poland's once powerful trade unions now organise only 18% of the workforce,
one of the lowest unionisation rates in central and eastern Europe. The
reasons for the weakness of Poland's trade union movement have been examined
at a seminar held in May 2003 and in a book based on the discussions at the
seminar. This article summarises the main arguments and findings.
The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (Suomen Ammattiliittojen
Keskusjärjestö, SAK) published its own 'employment programme' in August
2003. It proposes 17 measures to raise the labour market participation rate,
cut unemployment and promote employment, especially for those whose labour
market position is weak. The programme also includes long-term proposals that
take into account problems caused by the ageing of the labour force.
During 2003, trade unions at Poland's Stalowa Wola metalworking company have
been organising industrial action in protest at the planned closure of the
group's iron and steel works, with the loss of 1,400 jobs. The government has
offered the workers to be made redundant assistance under a new programme to
soften the effects of industrial restructuring.
According to data issued by the Statistical Office of the Slovak Republic
(Statistický úrad SR, SÚ SR), in 2002 the average nominal wage increase
was 9.3%, up from 8.2% in the previous year (SK0207101N ). The average
nominal monthly wage of an employee was SKK 13,511 in 2002. Taking into
account data provided by the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family
(Ministerstvo práce, sociálnych vecí a rodiny Slovenskej republiky, MPSVR
SR), this means an increase in average nominal wages of 151.2 % compared with
1993 (the year that Slovakia became an independent state).
In early August 2003, the workforce of Factory Wagon SA, a privatised Polish
railway rolling-stock producer and repairer, launched strikes and other
protest action, with the immediate cause being several months' arrears in
wage payments. The strike ended in late August when the debt-ridden firm was
declared bankrupt, opening the way for the sale of its assets and possible
survival of its operations and jobs.
In August 2003, the Polish government named four coal mines which are to be
closed in 2004, following an agreement reached with mineworkers' trade unions
in 2002 on the closure of unprofitable mines. The announcement led to the
unions calling strike action in the mines concerned, despite government
assurances that new jobs or appropriate accompanying social measures will be
arranged for all the miners to be made redundant.
On 22 July 2003, the Austrian Trade Union Federation (Österreichischer
Gewerkschaftsbund, ÖGB) and the Chamber of Labour (Arbeiterkammer, AK)
jointly presented a study on the working and living conditions of 'atypical'
workers in Austria. The study (Atypisch beschäftigt - typisch für die
Zukunft der Arbeit ) evaluates interviews conducted in 2002 with 528
people who made use of special advisory services for 'atypical' workers
offered by both ÖGB and AK. More precisely, the researchers’ focus group
were self-employed people employed under either a 'free service contract'
(freier Dienstvertrag) or a 'contract for work' (Werkvertrag) (TN0205101S
). According to Austrian labour law, both groups are classified as
self-employed in the narrow sense, although they do not employ other people
and often work for only one client. Actually, their working situation
resembles to a great extent that of (dependent) employees. People working on
a 'contract for work' basis (also referred to as the 'new self-employed', or
neue Selbständige) are obliged to fulfil a certain, well-defined task,
regardless of whether they do this themselves or subcontract to other people.
For their part, 'free service contract' workers provide an (often fixed-term)
ongoing service. Formally, they are not subject to the instructions of the
client and are free to schedule their own working time. Working materials, in
general, have to be made available to these workers by the client.
The comparative study was compiled on the basis of individual national
reports submitted by EIRO's national centres. The text of each of these
national reports is available below in Word format. The reports have not been
edited or approved by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living
and Working Conditions. The national reports were drawn up in response to a
questionnaire  and should be read in conjunction with it.
On 11 June 2003, a tripartite meeting was held on the initiative of the
Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB ) to discuss
the issue of unpaid wages. The meeting brought together representatives of
the government, employers’ organisations and CITUB and its member branch
federations, along with trade union officials from some of the companies
Eurofound’s European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) examines both the objective circumstances of European citizens' lives and how they feel about those circumstances and their lives in general. This series consists of outputs from the EQLS 2003, the first edition of the survey.
Eurofound's European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) examines both the objective circumstances of European citizens' lives and how they feel about those circumstances and their lives in general. This series consists of outputs from the EQLS 2007, the second edition of the survey. The survey was first carried out in 2003.
Eurofound's European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) examines both the objective circumstances of European citizens' lives and how they feel about those circumstances and their lives in general. This series consists of outputs from the EQLS 2012, the third edition of the survey. The survey was first carried out in 2003.
Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) paints a wide-ranging picture of Europe at work across countries, occupations, sectors and age groups. This series consists of findings from the EWCS 2005, the fourth edition of the survey. The survey was first carried out in 1990.
Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) paints a wide-ranging picture of Europe at work across countries, occupations, sectors and age groups. This series consists of findings from the EWCS 2010, the fifth edition of the survey. The survey was first carried out in 1990.
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The COVID-19 crisis has increased inequality between social groups in health, housing, employment, income and well-being. While a small part of society was able to hold on to or increase its wealth, other groups such as women, young people, older people, people with disabilities, low- and middle-income earners and those with young children were acutely affected by the pandemic. Drawing on current research on how to best measure multidimensional inequality, this report highlights recent trends in inequality in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.
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