In March 2003, Alstom, the French-based engineering multinational, announced
a major Europe-wide restructuring plan which includes major cuts in its
activities and 5,000 job losses. In July, management obtained shareholders'
approval for an increase in capital as part of the plan, while employees from
across Europe demonstrated in protest against the workforce reductions. The
French government is intervening to support Alstom’s activity, enable the
sale of assets and allow partnerships to be formed.
After a difficult start, negotiations between the social partners on reform
of the French vocational training system led in July 2003 to consensus on the
basic points of an agreement on the issue. However, there are still
differences over the division of training costs between employers and
employees and on the possibility of training outside working hours. The
negotiators were to meet again in early September 2003 to finalise an
A refuse collection strike affected a large number of French cities over May
and June 2003. The industrial action, mainly concerning public sector workers
but also some employees of private companies, partly overlapped with the
national wave of protests over the government's reform of the pension system,
but also reflected existing problems in the sector. The major demands
involved wage and staffing increases and a lower retirement age, at a time
when workers in this industry are facing particularly difficult working
conditions in the context of increasingly demanding public policies.
In June 2003, employers' organisations and three trade unions reached a new
agreement on France's special unemployment insurance scheme for workers
employed sporadically on fixed-term contracts in the entertainment industry.
The deal imposes stricter entitlement criteria and reduces the benefit
payment period. It was met with major protest action by the employees
affected and the non-signatory unions. Parts of the agreement were
renegotiated in July following an appeal by the Minister of Culture. However,
the protests intensified, eventually resulting in the cancellation of two
major summer arts festivals.
Compensation for people suffering illness as a result of asbestos exposure at
work has been in the headlines in 2003, with disagreement over the level of
compensation to be paid by a newly created Fund for the Compensation of
Asbestos Victims (FIVA). The Fund aims to provide full compensation to
asbestos victims, following an asbestos-related early retirement scheme
introduced in 1999. In 2003 it adopted a scale of compensation payments much
lower than awards made by the courts, bringing protests from trade unions and
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.
The draft EU constitutional Treaty submitted to the European Council by the
European Convention in June 2003 has given rise to some very divided opinions
among the Belgian social partners. The employers are delighted with a draft
that they believe will ensure that the enlarged EU functions more
efficiently, while the trade unions have described the proposed Treaty as
In July 2003, four socialist and liberal political parties reached agreement
on the formation of a new Belgian federal government. The coalition agreement
includes a number of important employment and social plans, such as creating
200,000 jobs over four years and cutting employers' social security
contributions. The social partners have reacted in differing ways to the new
On 17 June 2003, a new trade union, Fagforbundet, was created as the result
of a merger between the Norwegian Union of Municipal Employees (Norsk
Kommuneforbund, NKF) and the smaller Association of Health and Social Care
Personnel (Norsk Helse- og Sosialforbund, NHS) (NO0211106F ). The new
union, with approximately 300,000 members, is Norway's largest. It mainly
organises employees in the municipal sector, a large majority of whom are
women. Fagforbundet  is affiliated to the Norwegian Confederation of Trade
Unions (Landsorganisasjonen i Norge, LO). NKF and NHS started talks on a
possible merger as early as 1998, and the matter was subsequently subject to
considerable debate and a comprehensive process of deliberation (NO9809185F
 and NO0211106F ).
In July 2003, the Portuguese government presented the second National Plan
for Equality. The plan aims to promote equality between women and men in a
wide range of areas, addressing matters such as education, employment,
balancing work and family life, preventing violence against women, and social
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.
The fifth round of Eurofound's e-survey, fielded from 25 March to 2 May 2022, sheds light on the social and economic situation of people across Europe two years after COVID-19 was first detected on the European continent. It also explores the reality of living in a new era of uncertainty caused by the war in Ukraine, inflation, and rising energy prices.
As part of a process to collect information on essential services, the European Commission (DG EMPL) requested Eurofound to provide input on certain aspects of existing and planned measures in the Member States to improve access to essential services, in reference to Principle 20 of the European Pillar of Social Rights. The scope of the exercise included energy services, public transport and digital communications, and the focus was on people at risk of poverty or social exclusion (in practice, people on low incomes in most cases).
This report will map the existing regulations on telework in European Union Member States, including in legislation and collective agreements. It will present the most recent changes to these regulations and shed light on how the future of (tele)work could be regulated at both national and EU level, in order to improve working conditions in telework arrangements and reduce the risks associated with telework and with specific ways of working remotely.
The civil aviation sector has been deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is one of the most severe crises the sector has ever experienced, giving rise to a number of significant challenges for companies and workers alike. This study will explore the role of social dialogue and collective bargaining in how the sector is adapting to the pandemic. What kinds of changes have been introduced, either through social dialogue or collective bargaining? Are the changes temporary or permanent?
This report explores the association between skills use and skills strategies and establishment performance, and how other workplace practices, in terms of work organisation, human resources management and employee involvement, can impact on this. It looks at how skills shortages can be addressed, at least in part, by creating an environment in which employees are facilitated and motivated to make better use of the skills they already have. This further supports the business case for a more holistic approach to management.
This report focuses on trends and developments in collective bargaining that were evident from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. It examines potential new strategic approaches and priorities incorporated in negotiation agendas, as well as collective bargaining practices and coordination at sector and company levels in the private sector.
This policy brief will provide an update on upward convergence in the economic, social and institutional dimensions of the European Union, as outlined in the European Pillar of Social Rights and its accompanying Social Scoreboard.
Between 2021 and 2023 Eurofound is carrying out a pilot project on minimum wage on behalf of the European Commission. The question of how minimum wages and other forms of pay can be fixed for the self-employed is investigated as a part of this project through mapping national and sectoral approaches. Out of concern for the challenging conditions that the self-employed face, some Member States have established or are discussing establishing statutory forms of minimum pay for certain categories of self-employed.
This study provides information allowing for an assessment of the representativeness of the actors involved in the European sectoral social dialogue committee for the electricity sector. Their relative representativeness legitimises their right to be consulted, their role and effective participation in the European sectoral social dialogue and their capacity to negotiate agreements. The aim of this Eurofound study on representativeness is to identify the relevant national and European social partner organisations in the electricity sector in the EU Member States.
This study provides information allowing for an assessment of the representativeness of the actors involved in the European sectoral social dialogue committee for the gas sector. Their relative representativeness legitimises their right to be consulted, their role and effective participation in the European sectoral social dialogue and their capacity to negotiate agreements. The aim of this Eurofound’s study on representativeness is to identify the relevant national and European social partner organisations in the gas sector in the EU Member States.