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.
One of the continuing quarrels between the Social Democrat Government and the
largest trade union confederation, the Confederation of Trade Unions for
Blue-Collar Workers (Landsorganisationen or LO), appears to have been settled
by an agreement on the overall features of the unemployment insurance system,
presented on 12 February. Formally, the Government is not involved in the
settlement, but the details of the settlement were presented in a press
release from the Ministry of Labour and in person by the Minister of Labour,
Margareta Winberg, together with LO's vice-president, Wanja Lundby-Wedin.
In February, the Communication Workers' Union (CWU) launched a consultative
paper aimed at influencing the pre-election commitments of both the
Conservative Party and Labour Party. The union, which is firmly against
privatisation of the Post Office, has called for legislation to turn it into
an independent corporation, with the level of dividends pegged at 40% of
post-tax profits. The union feels that its proposals will have equal appeal
to all political parties because of the weight of public opinion opposing
On 21 February 1997, theMinistry of Finance and the Danish Central Federation
of State Employees (CFU) signed a new collective agreement for the period
1997-9, covering 225,000 government employees. The parties agreed on a total
4.25% increase, of which 2.9% is to be allocated for a general pay rise, and
1.35% for pensions and other purposes. Additionally, a wage adjustment scheme
has been introduced to take account of private sector increases
On 31 January 1997, the Second National Agreement on Temporary Employment
Agencies was signed. This is the second agreement reached in this sector
since the activity of temporary employment agencies (TEAs) in Spain was
approved in 1994. It will remain in force until 31 December 1999.
In a context of increasingly difficult youth employment in France, and of
social tension about what course of action to take, a recent national
conference has defined a number of concrete objectives. These seek to secure
employment for the most disadvantaged, and to expose students to the world of
work for the first time. These aims are based on a series of commitments on
the part of industry, Government and the social partners - who remain at odds
in their analysis - the effects of which must be monitored.
In a recent press interview, Padraig Flynn, the European commissioner
responsible for industrial relations and social affairs, expressed his unease
at press reports that the social partners' negotiations on part-time work
were heading for collapse, and stated that he remained hopeful of a positive
outcome. Senior trade union negotiator and deputy general secretary of the
European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), Jean Lapeyre, also stated that he
remained convinced that the negotiations could succeed. He stressed, however,
that if part-time work was to be made more attractive and acceptable for
workers, assurance of "decent social protection" had to be offered.
Testing 1,2,3 Minimum wages in Austria are known as "collective agreement
wages" because they are set by collective bargaining rather than by law,
though it is unlawful to pay less than the collective agreement wage. Because
of the large number of collective agreements concluded independently of each
other, substantial variations in increases in the minimum wage can arise
between industries or groups of employees. It is only possible to estimate
the overall change of the minimum wage rate retrospectively. The annual
estimate and the detailed monthly reporting are both carried out by the
Central Statistical Office (Österreichisches Statistisches Zentralamt,
ÖSTAT) based on reports received from the trade unions.
Declining union membership and a legal and ideological attack on the role of
trade unions over the past 17 years may have left many with the opinion that
employees no longer value the right to act collectively. It has been argued
that the attack on the unions throughout the 1980s and 1990s has left the
unions weak and unable to protect members' rights. Alternatively, it has been
argued that people now prefer to negotiate their own employment contracts
individually and do not need trade unions.
Industrial action has accompanied trade unions' pay demands in Spain's public
administration since late 1996, and the threat of further action has been
made if negotiations are not started immediately.
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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.
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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).