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
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.
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
The introduction of a statutory National Minimum Wage (NMW) was one of the
commitments of the Labour Government that came to power in May 1997
(UK9704125F ), and the National Minimum Wage Bill was published on 27
November and received its first reading in Parliament. Margaret Beckett, the
President of the Board of Trade, who is responsible for the bill, said that
it would set the framework within which the Government would introduce the
NMW, once it had carefully considered the recommendations of the Low Pay
Commission  (LPC). The bill, she stated, will enable the Government to
introduce a NMW which is as simple and universal as possible (UK9711177F
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%.
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:
Strikes and demonstrations in December 1997 indicated that social unrest is
rising in Belgium's care services sector, where workers feel threatened by
budgetary cuts. Workers want to defend not only the volume but also the
quality of employment in this sector.
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.
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.
Platform work – the matching of supply of and demand for paid labour through an online platform or app – is gaining increasing importance in Europe. It has attracted policy attention due to its inherent opportunities and challenges. Across Europe, initiatives have been introduced by governments, social partners and grassroots organisations aimed at harnessing the potential and reducing the risks of this employment form. The areas covered include regulation, representation, advice and information provision, as well as measures addressing social protection, ratings and training.
The use of artificial intelligence, advanced robotics and the Internet of Things technologies in the workplace can bring about fundamental changes in work organisation and working conditions. This report analyses the ethical and human implications of the use of these technologies at work by drawing on qualitative interviews with policy stakeholders, input from the Network of Eurofound Correspondents and Delphi expert surveys, and case studies.