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Employment yielding less than ATS 3,740 gross per month or less than ATS 859
per week or ATS 288 per day, is defined as "minor". Below this threshold,
neither employee nor employer has to contribute to the national pension or
health or unemployment insurance. Only national accident insurance has to be
paid. Minor employment therefore does not earn an entitlement to unemployment
benefits, maternity benefits, a pension, or medical coverage. On the other
hand, because of the lower cost, minor employment may be an incentive for
employers to hire.
During the fourth bargaining round for its 90,000 employees, the German car
producer Volkswagen AG announced the creation of several hundred new jobs.
According to an agreement between management and the IG Metall trade union,
the newly hired employees will be employed exclusively on a temporary basis
and will de facto be remunerated below the level of the company agreements.
Although being hired on the terms of the current company agreements, the
newly hired employees will not be eligible for the compensatory extra pay
component which was agreed when Volkswagen established the four-day working
week in 1994, and thus they will be paid 10% less than core employees.
According to the agreement, details will be fixed by the social partners at
establishment level. During the negotiations, the IG Metall rejected
Volkswagen's plans to pay the newly hired employees according to the
branch-level metalworking agreement. The compensation of the new temporary
staff will still be around 10% higher than the pay other employees receive on
the basis of the current branch-level metalworking agreement.
The findings of a Eurostat study entitled /Statistics in focus: income
distribution and poverty in the EU 12 - 1993/, published on 14 May 1997, show
that one out of six citizens and households in the 12 pre-1995 EU member
states live below the "poverty threshold". In more than half of these
countries, the figure was even higher - one in five. Even more alarmingly,
over one-third of poor households were working. These findings are drawn from
the first wave of statistics generated from the European Community Household
Panel (ECHP). The ECHP consists of a sample of 60,500 households selected
randomly in the 12 member states, using a harmonised questionnaire. This data
does not allow for a comparison of social change over time, but does provide
important information on the magnitude and dimensions of poverty and income
disparity in the European Union in the early 1990s. The figures show that
there are approximately 57 million socially excluded individuals in EU, a
problem affecting both more and less affluent member states.
In Greece, temporary work, especially in the form of fixed-term contracts,
constitutes a policy widespread amongst enterprises in both private and
public sectors. Although the phenomenon of temporary work has decreased
considerably in comparison with the early 1990s, when its incidence was twice
that of the EU average (18% and 9% respectively), it is still quite high
(10.5% and 11% respectively). A factor contributing to this decrease was the
decision of the Government in the course of 1990 to dismiss 50,000 temporary
public employees as part of its attempt to rationalise the functioning of the
The recession affecting Portuguese companies from 1991 to 1994 showed that
the difficulties faced by the country stemmed not just from economic
circumstances. Rather, the roots were far more complex and called for
structural changes to competitive factors involving the very fabric of
business and a general remodelling of managerial capacity, vocational
qualifications and financial structure.
Under the terms of a new bill, announced in April 1997, employees in the
Netherlands will be entitled to benefits if they interrupt their careers for
care or study leave, on condition that the employer hires an unemployed
person for the same period
Two separate committees - a group of professors appointed by the Government
and a committee of economists from the Finnish social partners - published
reports in early May 1997 on the industrial relations implications of EU
Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) for Finland The social partners themselves
have adopted a joint declaration on EMU membership.
On 29 April 1997, the management and works council at Mohn GmbH, a subsidiary
of one of Germany's biggest media corporations, Bertelsmann, signed a works
agreement - known as the "Pact for partnership 1997" - for the 1,700 or so
employees at the Mohn printing works in Gütersloh.
The high-level expert group on worker involvement was established in 1996
with the aim of developing solutions to break the 25-year deadlock on
European Commission proposals containing clauses on worker involvement, and
in particular, the European Company Statute (ECS). The Commission has
repeatedly stressed the importance of such a statute, enabling the
incorporation of companies at EU level, in order to improve the
competitiveness of European companies. Such proposals have long remained
blocked in the Council of Ministers, largely because of concerns from
countries with advanced employee participation systems which fear that the
ECS could be used by companies to circumvent national legislation in this
area. Similarly, a solution would have to avoid imposing foreign models of
employee representation upon member states where there is currently no
provision for the appointment of worker representatives to the boards of