On 30 April 1997 the Ring of Free Labour (Ring Freiheitlicher Arbeitnehmer,
RFA), a group affiliated with the Austrian Freedom Party (Freiheitliche
Partei Österreichs, FPÖ), held its federal congress. One of the points of
debate was whether to develop into a trade union outside the Austrian Trade
Union Federation (Österreichische Gewerkschaftsbund, ÖGB). Since 1945 there
have been no trade unions outside the ÖGB. The debate was triggered by the
RFA's failure to achieve caucus status in the ÖGB. The minimum requirement
of at least four affiliated works council members in each of at least three
trade unions has not been met.
Part-time workers have traditionally not been allowed into the same
occupational pension schemes as full-time workers, but because there are far
more women than men among part-timers the practice was challenged on the
grounds of sex discrimination through the European Court of Justice (ECJ). In
1994, the ECJ ruled in a set of linked cases that the practice did amount to
sex discrimination. The judgment was not welcomed by the then Conservative
Government, so the Trades Union Congress (TUC) advised qualifying individuals
that they should register their cases with industrial tribunals. After a
number of test cases in the UK tribunals, it was ruled that part-timers who
had been denied access to occupational pension schemes could not claim
backdated pension rights any further back that two years prior to the ECJ's
ruling - that is, 1992. After appeals were turned down, the cases are still
waiting to be heard by the House of Lords.
The importance of continuing vocational education is increasingly being
recognised by policy-makers across the European Union, not only because of
its positive impact on maintaining the competitiveness of enterprises, but
also because of its potential contribution to the free movement of labour and
the improvement of employment prospects. This is particularly important in
the context of the evolving "information society". The Commission has given
particular emphasis and resources to continuing training through its
vocational training programme, LEONARDO, and in declaring 1996 the European
Year of Lifelong Learning.
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.
Occupational pension schemes are becoming more and more important in Italy
even though their full implementation is still difficult, both because the
legal framework has not yet been consolidated, and because their form and
content must be defined by the social partners through collective bargaining.
The latter point still remains problematic, as no agreement has yet been
reached as to whether pension schemes should be developed at national or
local level. Nevertheless, evidence from recent collective bargaining at
national and local levels shows that occupational pension scheme issues are
growing in importance.
In elections held in April 1997, a joint list of socialist and communist
trade unionists narrowly won control of Portugal's South and Islands Banking
Union (Sindicato dos Bancários do Sul e Ilhas, SBSI), which will continue to
be affiliated to the General Workers' Union (União Geral de Trabalhadores,
"Negotiate a reduction of working time - or else public opinion will force
through legislation". That was the message in an article written jointly by
Prime MinisterGöran Persson and the chair of the Swedish Metal Workers'
Union, Göran Johnsson, and published in the evening paper /Aftonbladet/ on
28 April 1997. Considering that one of the authors is the Prime Minister of
Sweden, it could be seen as a veiled threat to the employers. In the 1997
bargaining round, several trade unions called for a cut in working hours, and
the employers consistently rejected them.
The first of the two recently-announced mergers, which is to take effect from
1 July 1997, is between the National and Provincial Building Society Staff
Association (NAPSA) and the Banking, Insurance and Finance Union (BIFU). The
National and Provincial Building Society was recently taken over by the Abbey
National, but NAPSA members voted to become part of BIFU rather than the
Abbey National's own staff association. Despite the strong support for BIFU
from NAPSA members, the company has refused to recognise the union. BIFU said
that "in the merger and conversion mania which is sweeping this country there
is little regard for the impact on staff. They are the casualties - that's
why it is important for unions to work together". BIFU, which has 115,000
members, hope that this will be the first of many mergers which will ensure
it a stronger role in the financial sector.
One of the most significant transformations of British industrial relations
in recent years has been the shift from national to enterprise-level
bargaining. Multi-employer bargaining arrangements have tended to be replaced
with multi-establishment, single employer bargaining, although there are also
signs of decentralisation within the individual firm. Similarly, within the
public sector (UK9702104F ), efforts have been made to fragment
traditional bargaining arrangements through the introduction of "Agency"
status and market-testing to the civil service and local authorities, and by
further institutional decentralisation through the promotion of National
Health Service (NHS) Trusts and local management of schools. These changes
have occurred alongside a dramatic decline in coverage of collective
bargaining, largely due to the decline of manufacturing employment and the
expansion of the service sector.
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.