Meeting in Brussels on 15 December 1997, the Council of Labour and Social
Affairs Ministers unanimously adopted a Directive to implement the framework
agreement on part-time work  concluded by the Union of Industrial and
Employers' Confederations of Europe (UNICE), the European Centre of
Enterprises with Public Participation and of Enterprises of General Economic
Interest (CEEP) and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) on 6 June
1997 (EU9706131F ). This agreement aims to institute the principle of
non-discrimination for part-time workers and to facilitate the development of
part-time work on a voluntary basis and to contribute to the flexible
organisation of working time in a manner which takes into account the needs
of employers and workers. It also seeks to ensure that the equal treatment of
part-time workers in terms of pay (pro rata) and working conditions is
applied, unless there are "objective reasons" for differential treatment.
Clause 5 of the agreement calls upon Member States to review any obstacles
which may limited opportunities for part-time work and, where appropriate, to
On 15 December 1997, the employers' association for newspaper publishers,
Bundesverband Deutscher Zeitungsverleger (BDZV) and the two trade unions
which organise journalists, IG Medien and Deutscher Journalisten-Verband
(DJV), signed new collective agreements for the 17,000 or so journalists on
daily newspapers. The negotiations, lasting more than three months, were
overshadowed by strong demands for further cost reductions by the employers
on the one hand, and accompanied by several union protest actions and warning
strikes (Warnstreiks) on the other hand. Finally, the collective bargaining
parties agreed on the following provisions:
A confidential interim report into industrial and employee relations in An
Post, Ireland's state-owned postal company, highlights the adversarial nature
of its industrial relations structures and practices and how these are
inhibiting the development of a more customer focused business. The report,
which was submitted to the company's chair, Stephen O'Connor, in February
1997 was carried out by a subsidiary of the Irish Business and Employers
Confederation (IBEC) - Employee Relations Services (ERS). It was featured in
the industrial relations weekly, /Industrial Relations News/, in December
Compulsory competitive tendering (CCT) was one of the key privatisation
measures of the Conservative governments of 1979-97, which brought much
insecurity into the lives of those who provided services to local
authorities. Much to the joy of local authority workers and trade unions, in
June 1997 the new Labour Government announced that the rules on CCT would be
changed after a wide-ranging consultation exercise (UK9706141N ). On 21
November 1997, local government minister Hilary Armstrong laid before
Parliament new regulations which amend the existing framework for CCT to make
it more flexible, and encourage local authorities to move to a "Best Value"
based approach to service delivery, in which value to customers would take
priority over competition per se. She said: "In due course we will be
replacing CCT with a new legislative framework on Best Value. In the
meantime, I want local authorities to develop Best Value ahead of primary
The leaders of the Norwegian Federation of Trade Unions (LO) and the
Federation of Norwegian Professional Associations (AF), Yngve Hågensen (LO)
and Magne Songvoll (AF), made headlines on 1 December 1997 when they called
for their members to boycott Norway's largest commercial bank, Den Norske
Bank (DnB). This followed DnB's decision to introduce new service charges and
to raise existing service charges from 1 November 1997. This is only the
latest of many clashes between the trade unions and the banking sector in
Norway on the issue of service charges. An opinion poll commissioned by LO
and AF revealed that a majority of the people asked expressed dissatisfaction
with existing service charges in the banking sector in general. The proposed
boycott was not directed at the DnB alone, but the bank was made the main
target due to its size and the scale of its service fees. DnB later
reconsidered its original decision, and decided to lower charges on some
Dismissed trade union delegates and the management of Boston Scientific, a
medical equipment company which relocated operations from Belgium to Ireland
in 1997, are still fighting it out in the Belgian courts at the end of the
year. This legal battle is part of a union strategy to fight closures and
relocations carried out by multinationals.
Developments in European Union (EU) and national-level policy with a direct
impact on industrial relations were influenced by a number of key trends and
events in 1997, many of which are set to continue to be of relevance in the
policy debate in 1998:
According to the Federal Statistical Office (Statistisches Bundesamt), German
real GDP grew at a rate of 2.2% in 1997. As regards the Maastricht
convergence criteria, the budget deficit reached 2.7% of GDP, whereas public
debt amounted to 61.3% of GDP. On average, unemployment stood at 11.4% of the
civilian labour force - 9.8% in the west and 18.1% in the east. Inflation, as
measured by the consumer price index, amounted to 1.8%.
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.
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, conducted in three rounds – in April and July 2020 and in March 2021. This is complemented by the inclusion of research into the ongoing effects of the pandemic in much of Eurofound’s other areas of work.
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.
Eurofound's representativness 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 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 European Jobs Monitor tracks changes in employment structure and contributes to the debate about whether European labour markets are polarising or upgrading. The European Jobs Monitor report in 2021 looks in particular at two dimensions of change in labour supply – increased female participation and population/workforce ageing – to show how they can contribute to an understanding of recent changes in employment structure.
This study presents policy-relevant findings on differential pay rates for men and women at occupational level. Previous research has underlined that the gender pay gap is biggest – and has been slowest to narrow – in well-paid jobs requiring professional qualifications. These are also jobs in which the female worker share is increasing relatively fast. The report maps the extent of the gender pay gap across the job-wage distribution, taking into account the shifting gender composition of specific sectors, occupations and jobs.
Following improvements in economic growth and labour market participation after the global financial and economic crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic constitutes a new, unprecedented challenge for the EU. The crisis threatens to pose an existential challenge to the EU’s cohesion and legitimacy. The subject of upward convergence is once again centre stage in the European policy debate. Expanding on work done on this topic in previous years, this flagship report traces developments in economic and social indicators between the economic crisis and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While often considered staid, social partner organisations have developed different ways of using technology to communicate with their members, as well as to organise, mobilise and develop both internally, among staff, and externally, vis-à-vis members and the public. This topical update maps current practices in social partner organisations, describes developments in the use of technologies, and outlines the impact on social partner activities and organisation.
What have been the major trends and policy developments regarding digitalisation in Europe? What do we know about the deployment of automation, digitisation and the platform economy? This flagship publication provides an overview of developments in Europe in recent years, as well as mapping the observable or expected effects on employment and working conditions, as well as exploring the implications from a policy perspective.
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.
The COVID-19 pandemic radically reshaped workplace practices and work organisation across the EU. This report explores changes that occurred as a result of or during the COVID-19 pandemic in areas such as technological transformation, decision-making and remote working. The research sets out to learn from company experiences and measures that have proved critical to keeping businesses running. It aims to inform policymakers, employers and trade unions on how to make businesses, workplaces and workers more resilient in the face of a crisis such as COVID-19.
This report examines the phenomenon of overtime in the EU, providing a comparative description of how it is regulated in EU Member States. It also assesses how contentious the issue can be and investigates the reasons behind the various disputes and debates. Finally, the report attempts to quantify and characterise the share of overtime for which workers are not paid or compensated. The analysis is based on information collected in EU Member States by the Network of Eurofound Correspondents.
This report captures the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the quality of life of older citizens, including the impact on their well-being, finances, employment and social inclusion. It explores the effects on care use and reliance on other support. The report analyses policy measures that have been implemented in EU Member States that have proven particularly important for the quality of life of older citizens, for example, measures to support independent living.
This report examines a number of collective labour disputes involving industrial action in EU Member States, Norway and the UK. It provides a comprehensive study of each labour dispute, including information on industrial action events and the context for each dispute, as well as the relevant topics, actors, attempts at resolution and outcomes. Different types of collective labour disputes and their occurrence in various countries and sectors are presented, indicating how they are linked to different industrial relations regimes.