On Thursday 27 February 1997 Renault announced - completely unexpectedly -
the closure of its Belgian production plant in Vilvoorde by July of this
year. As a result, more than 3,000 Renault employees and an estimated 1,500
employees in direct supply companies will lose their jobs. There is a general
consensus that the decision ignored all legal rules and procedures concerning
factory closures. This includes ILO and OECD procedures as well as national
codes of conduct, and European Union and national legislation on collective
redundancies and works council rights. These regulations lay down that
employees have to be notified before a decision about a factory closure is
made and informed about the ways in which the company plans to deal with the
consequences for the employees.
Prior to the election of industrial tribunal members in December 1997, five
trade union confederations have requested an overhaul of the voting system in
order to prevent the election of judges from the far Right.
Since the beginning of the 1990s, the German system of centralised sectoral
collective bargaining (Flächentarifvertrag), which guarantees all employees
in a certain sector more or less the same basic income and working
conditions, has been under increasing pressure. With growing
internationalisation of capital and markets and an increasing pressure of
international competition, more and more employers and economic experts have
been demanding a more decentralised and company-related collective bargaining
system. German unification in 1990 brought a further dynamism to the debate.
Originally, all the relevant social partners agreed to transfer the western
collective bargaining system to eastern Germany, but because of the
continuing immense economic problems. more and more eastern employers became
dissatisfied with that decision. For instance, in the eastern metal industry
the proportion of employers who are members of an employers' association
decreased from 60% in 1991 to 36% in 1994 - though still covering between 55%
and 65% of the employees ("Ostdeutsche Tariflandschaften", Ingrid Artus and
Rudi Schmidt, in Die Mitbestimmung No. 11, p. 34-36 (1996)).
On 13 March 1997, the readers of Sweden's leading morning paper /Dagens
Nyheter/ learnt about an unusual appeal, drawn up jointly by the pugnacious
chair of Handelsanställdas förbund (Commercial Employees' Union), the
leaders of the two employers' organisations in commerce and the managing
directors of three leading retail chains.
According to the study/, Analysis of the prevalence of home-based telework in
Denmark,/ carried out by Andersen Management International for the Ministry
of Research and Information Technology, it is estimated that the potential
number of people carrying out home-based telework will increase over the next
decade, from 9,000 at present to 250,000. The study defines home-based
telework as situations where 20% or more of work is carried out from a
home-based workplace using information technology. Home-based telework is
expected to be more efficient if it is limited to two to three working days a
On 13 March, after long debate between ministries, trade unions, and
provincial governments, the national Government submitted a reform package
covering the Arbeitslosenversicherungsgesetz(Unemployment Insurance Act), the
Fremdengesetz(Aliens Act), the Aufenthaltsgesetz(Residence Act), the
Ausländerbeschäftigungsgesetz(Aliens Employment Act), and the
Asylgesetz(Asylum Act). The aim is to homogenise the laws, to reduce
immigration to an absolute minimum compatible with human rights and the
Geneva Convention on the Rights of Refugees, and to improve the integration
of the resident foreign population. The reform package is now open to public
debate, and will be submitted to Parliament before the summer. Changes are
intended to take effect as of 1 January 1998.
At the end of February 1997, the social partners in Luxembourg's hospital
sector concluded a new collective agreement in a "cooperative" atmosphere.
The deal provides for pay increases and a reduction and reorganisation of
working hours for 5,000 employees.
On 5 March 1997, the Italian Prime Minister, Romano Prodi, informed the
political parties and social partners about the report drawn up by the
"Commission for macroeconomic compatibility of social expenditure", a
committee of experts established by the Government and chaired by Professor
Paolo Onofri. The proposals for reform deal with all the key elements of
public spending: healthcare, public assistance, and, of particular interest
for the industrial relations system, pensions and labour market policies.
This document drew critical reactions from the trade union confederations,
while the evaluation from the Confindustria employers' confederation was
On 3 March 1997 the UK's second largest general trade union, GMB, and the
German chemical workers' union IG Chemie-Papier-Keramik signed a unique
agreement on joint union membership. The agreement offers members of both
organisations, when working in each other's countries, the same support and
advice enjoyed by their own members.
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.