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In April 1997, the Confindustria employers' confederation organised a
"virtual demonstration "of around 14,000 employers against a government
exercise to raise public revenue and reduce spending by a total of ITL 15,500
billion, deemed necessary to keep Italy's 1997 budget within the parameters
set by the Maastricht Treaty on European Union.
Just one week after the German social partners and Government found a
compromise on the future development of the German mining industry
(DE9703104F ) the Ruhr region (one of Germany's oldest industrial areas)
was again the focus of social conflict. On 18 March 1997 the second-largest
German steel producer, Krupp-Hoesch, announced plans for a hostile takeover
of its main competitor, Thyssen. Krupp-Hoesch made an offer to the Thyssen
shareholders to buy their shares for DEM 435 each, which was about 25% higher
than the current quotation on the German stock exchange. The president of
Krupp-Hoesch, Gerhard Cromme, stated that the acquisition of Thyssen would
create a lot of synergy effects, and could help to improve the international
competitiveness of the German steel industry.
In a recent report (/Social Europe/ 4/96, published in March/April 1997), the
European Commission assesses the progress towards the achievement of the
goals of the medium-term social action programme covering the period between
1995-7. This social action programme, adopted in April 1995, is seen by the
Commission as marking a breakthrough for new ideas and policies. The basic
concept underlying the programme is that social policy is a productive factor
facilitating change and progress, rather than a burden on the economy or an
obstacle to growth.
Currently the minimum wage in the tourism sector is ATS 54 net per hour. The
Hotel, Restaurant, Personal Services Workers (Gewerkschaft Hotel,
Gastgewerbe, Persönlicher Dienst,HGPD) is seeking an increase of the minimum
gross monthly full-time wage from ATS 11,440 to ATS 12,000 (payable 14 times
per year). This is a nominal increase of 4.9%. With current inflation
projections running at 1.9%, a real pay increase of 3.0% would result. The
minimum net monthly income would be increased by ATS 378.40 from ATS 9,358 to
ATS 9,736.40, a nominal increase of 4.0%. On the basis of 173 hours per
month, the net hourly rate would increase by ATS 2.18 from the current ATS
"Territorial pacts" (patti territoriali) are an interesting and innovative
form of social dialogue that could change the Italian experience of "social
concertation", with important consequences. By developing the idea of these
pacts, the consultative National Council for Economic Affairs and Labour
(CNEL ), which had not previously played an important role in this field,
could assume a key position in social dialogue, particularly in the
preparation of agreements for the economic development of crisis-hit areas in
A separate agreement for white-collar employees in the Luxembourg iron and
steel was concluded in March 1997, despite efforts in negotiations to create
a single agreement for both white- and blue-collar staff.
The principal collective agreement in the Dutch information technology and
office equipment sector, concluded in April 1997 between the employers'
organisation and one of the trade unions, has been criticised by the other
unions and four large software and service companies
On 22 April 1997, the management board at Ford Germany and the company works
council (Gesamtbetriebsrat) signed a new works agreement to secure
investment. In the agreement, Ford management promises new investments at the
five German Ford plants at Cologne, Düren, Berlin, Wülfrath and Saarlouis.
Although the exact figures have not been published it is estimated that
investments will total about DEM 10 billion in the next few years.
Speaking at the Institute of European Affairs in Dublin, Padraig Flynn, the
commissioner for employment, industrial relations and social affairs,
outlined his priorities for the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) and
provided the audience with an update of the continuing negotiations leading
up the Amsterdam summit in June (EU9704117F ).
In 10 sessions over the course of five months, the Metals, Mining and Energy
Workers trade union (Gewerkschaft Metall-Bergbau-Energie, GMBE) and eight
associations together comprising the metalworking sector within the
Bundessektion Industrie of the Austrian Chamber of the Economy
(Wirtschaftskammer Österreich, WKÖ) have thrashed out a collective
agreement on working time flexibilisation covering 229,000 employees (162,000
waged, 67,000 salaried) in industrial establishments. However, one of the
eight associations - Fachverband der Metallwarenindustrie- has been blocking
ratification of the deal since mid-March.