In December 1996, a committee consisting of experts from Greek trade unions
and employers' organisations was set up to discuss the effects of reducing
working time to 35 hours a week. However, on completion of its task in
October 1997, it had become clear that the differences between the two sides
were irreconcilable. We examine the main points of disagreement between the
Greek General Confederation of Labour (GSEE) and the employers.
In 1997, Italy's GDP increased by 1.7%: although low, this rate of growth was
higher than in 1996. The rate of inflation continued to decrease, falling to
to 1.7% in 1997 (according to the National Institute of Statistics, Istat).
The unemployment rate stood at an average of 12.3% (Istat), which represented
a growth of 0.2 percentage points compared with 1996. However, the
unemployment rate is very different depending on the area: it is particularly
high in the South, where it reaches 22.2%, while it is lower in the Centre
(10.2%) and in the North (7.3% in the North-West and 5.7% in the North-East).
In 1997, the Government's deficit-reduction policies, which received a
particular impetus after 1993, continued, and the public deficit stood at
2.7% of GDP in 1997.
Recent research in the Netherlands shows that setting a legal standard for
the manual lifting of loads would lead to considerable improvements in
working conditions for a large group of employees. However, employers'
organisations and unions are divided on this subject.
Measures to improve the working environment and the health and safety of the
workforce have been the cornerstone of the European social dimension since
the inception of the European Communities. Articles 117 and 118 of the Treaty
of Rome called for the Community to be instrumental in achieving the
improvement of living and working conditions in the Member States. These
provisions were strengthened under Article 118A  of the Single European
Act (which came into force in 1987), and a Directive  on the introduction
of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at
the workplace (89/391/EEC) was subsequently adopted by the Labour and Social
Affairs Council in June 1989. This framework Directive, intended as a
spearhead for other individual Directives, lays down fundamental requirements
for health and safety at work, including the obligations of employers and
workers, the establishment and maintenance of prevention, protection and
emergency services at the workplace, comprehensive information and training
and consultation of workers in all matters relating to health and safety. The
adoption of the framework Directive led to a spate of Community legislation
on health and safety related issues between 1989 and 1992. The individual
Directives fall into three main categories. They aim to:
Collective bargaining may be defined as a collective decision-making process
between parties representing the interests of the employer(s) and the
employee(s), whose purpose is the negotiation and continuous application of a
jointly agreed set of rules to govern the substantive and procedural terms of
the employment relationship.
Both the trade unions and the employers' organisations have reacted to the
Spanish Government's position at the special EU Employment Summit held in
Luxembourg in November 1997. The former have expressed their profound
dissatisfaction, while the latter support the attitude of the Government, but
would like to see more measures that would allow companies to generate
employment. The reaction of the opposition parties and public opinion in
general was also very critical.
The Government has recently presented a bill aimed at completing the
introduction into Portuguese law of the amendments introduced by Directive
92/56/EC into the system of regulation of collective redundancies established
by Directive 75/129/EEC.
The retailing and wholesaling pay negotiations for 1998, begun on 8 October
1997, were concluded on 31 October 1997. The Trade Union of Salaried
Employees (Gewerkschaft der Privatangestellten, GPA) had initially demanded a
3.5% hike in minimum rates while the Austrian Chamber of the Economy
(Wirtschaftskammer Österreich, WKÖ) offered fixed amounts varying by grade
and resulting, on average, in a pay rise below inflation (AT9710140N ).
The social partners finally settled for an average 1.7% increase in minimum
salaries from 1 January 1998 and a maintenance of the absolute difference
between minimum and actual salaries. Apprenticeship remuneration will be
raised by 1.6%. Given that inflation is expected to run at 1.4% ,a very
moderate rise in real incomes was thus achieved. Some 320,000 employees
(60%-70% are women) - about 10% of the country's workforce - are directly
affected by the new agreement and another 130,000 indirectly because their
wage or salary settlements usually reflect the one concluded in commerce. One
year previously, GPA asked for a 4.5% pay rise and eventually agreed to an
A decision made in October 1997 by the Mediation and Arbitration Service
(OMED) regulates wages and working conditions more favourably throughout
Greece for workers in enterprises providing security services, an
increasingly important branch of the services sector.
On 27 November 1997, the Finnish Firefighters' Union (Suomen Palomiesliitto,
SPAL) called a strike which continues at the time of writing (11 December).
The action arises from disagreements about firefighters' pay system, working
hours and retirement age. An attempt at conciliation ended without results
and the national conciliator, Juhani Salonius, came to the conclusion that
the parties stood so far apart that not even a proposal for a settlement
could be made.
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, launched in April 2020, with five rounds completed at different stages during 2020, 2021 and 2022. This is complemented by the inclusion of research into the ongoing effects of the pandemic in much of Eurofound’s other areas of work.
Eurofound's representativeness 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 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.
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.
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 urban-rural divide in EU countries has grown in recent years, and the depopulation of certain rural areas in favour of cities is a challenge when it comes to promoting economic development and maintaining social cohesion and convergence. Using data from Eurofound and Eurostat, this report will investigate the trends and drivers of the urban-rural divide, in various dimensions: economic and employment opportunities, access to services, living conditions and quality of life.
Adequate, affordable housing has become a matter of great concern, with an alarming number of Europeans with low or lower household incomes unable to access any, especially in capital cities. Housing was a key factor in people’s experience of the COVID-19 pandemic: its quality and level of safety significantly affected how lockdowns and social distancing measures were experienced, with those who had no access to quality housing at higher risk of deteriorating living conditions and well-being.
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.