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.
Given that compliance with lockdown measures is a first line of defence against COVID-19, maintaining trust in institutions is vital to ensure a coordinated, comprehensive and effective response to the pandemic. This report investigates developments in institutional and interpersonal trust across time, with a particular emphasis on the COVID-19 pandemic period and its impact. It examines the link between trust and discontent and investigates the effect of multidimensional inequalities as a driver of distrust.
This report analyses how working conditions, job quality and working life outcomes – such as work–life balance, health and well-being, and sustainability of work – changed between February 2020 and spring 2021. Following up on responses to the European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) 2020, it explores the differences between three distinct groups of workers: those teleworking during the COVID-19 pandemic, those who continued to work on their employers' premises as frontline staff, and those who were furloughed or worked reduced hours.
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.
This study provides information allowing for an assessment of the representativeness of the actors involved in the European sectoral social dialogue committee for the food and drinks 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 food and drinks sector in the EU Member States.
Lockdown measures and the economic shift following the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a widening of the gender divide between men and women, putting at risk some of the gender equality gains that had been made in previous years. This report analyses changes in the distribution of paid and unpaid work, along with care and domestic responsibilities, among men and women during the crisis. It also explores the impact of the pandemic on the well-being of women and men.
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.
The financial services sector is pertinent for studying the impact of digitalisation, as the main ‘raw material’ of the sector is digitally stored and processed. Process automation in the sector is likely to lead to significant job losses over the next 10 years, as the high street bank presence declines and the online bank presence increasingly accounts for a higher share of overall activity. Such trends have already been identified in bank restructurings captured in Eurofound’s European Restructuring Monitor.
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 report offers a backward look at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the work and life of Europeans. The main focus is on Eurofound’s e-survey ‘ Living, working and COVID-19’ which was launched on 9 April 2020 just after the onset of the crisis. Through four rounds of the survey (two in 2020 and two in 2021), the range of questions changed to match the evolving situation and to understand the effects on the everyday lives of citizens and workers.
This report explores the drivers of economic and social convergence in Europe, using a selected set of economic and social indicators to examine trends in the performance of individual Member States. It also investigates what role the Economic and Monetary Union plays in convergence, particularly in southern and eastern Member States. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on convergence is analysed and initial conclusions are drawn about the impact of EU recovery packages and their ability to prevent divergence.