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  • Controversy over law restricting right to strike in healthcare sector

    Finland’s Prime Minister, Matti Vanhanen, has strongly criticised the actions of the opposition parties and the Union of Health and Social Care Professionals (Terveyden- ja sosiaalihuoltoalan ammattijärjestö, Tehy [1]) in threatening mass resignations in the healthcare sector as part of an industrial action announced by Tehy (*FI0710039I* [2], see also press release [3] of 15 October 2007). The threat of industrial action was initially focused on the special nursing subsector, although Tehy had also collected signatures in the social and basic healthcare sectors. [1] [2] [3]
  • Craftswork employers seek to develop local economy

    The Craftwork Employers’ Association (Union professionnelle artisanale, UPA [1]) held its national congress on 25 October 2007 in Paris. At the congress, the association’s new president, Pierre Martin, who was elected in January 2007 for three years, invited delegates to participate fully in the discussions on the theme of ‘the local economy’. Mr Martin noted that profound societal changes had led French society to lose some of its shared values; he also denounced the development of so-called ‘individualism’. [1]
  • Fostering the employment of older workers in the future

    Forecasts indicate that the size of Germany’s total population will shrink drastically after 2020. This development, in turn, is expected to affect the supply of labour in the long run. A recent study on demographic changes (in German, 966Kb PDF) [1] by the Institute for Employment Research (Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung, IAB [2]) analyses the effects that a slowly shrinking and ageing population will have on the labour supply in the future. The analysis is based on data from the 2006 IAB Establishment Panel (/Betriebspanel 2006/), which offers a greater insight into the current situation of older employees in the workplace. The Establishment Panel (in German) [3] survey is regularly conducted by IAB and covers 16,000 establishments in all economic sectors. [1] [2] [3]
  • Social partners reach agreement on minimum wage for 2008

    On 21 November 2007, a national-level bipartite minimum wage agreement was concluded between the Confederation of Estonian Trade Unions (Eesti Ametiühingute Keskliit, EAKL [1]) and the Estonian Employers’ Confederation (Eesti Tööandjate Keskliit, ETTK [2]). After reaching a compromise on the issue, the minimum wage for 2008 was increased by nearly 21% to a monthly amount of EEK 4,350 (about €278 as at 13 December 2007) compared with EEK 3,600 (€230) in 2007. This rate corresponds to an hourly minimum wage increase from the current EEK 21.50 (€1.37) to EEK 27 (€1.73) in 2008. This 21% minimum wage rise is the highest increase in recent years. (For more information on previous national minimum wage agreements, see *EE0701029I* [3], *EE0601104F* [4], *EE0507101N* [5], *EE0501103N* [6], *EE0411102F* [7], *EE0409101N* [8] and *EE0311101N* [9].) [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]
  • Telework in Lithuania

    In Lithuania, no special statutory and/or collectively agreed definition of telework [1] exists either in concordance with or deviating from the definition of the 2002 European framework agreement on telework (107Kb PDF) [2]. According to the expert and legal representatives of the social partners, Lithuanian legislation presents a definition of homeworking [3] that also covers telework. The legislation concerned includes the Labour Code (LC) of the Republic of Lithuania and Decree No. 1043 of 19 August 2003 of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania on the approval of peculiarities of individual employment contracts. The latter decree defines homework as ‘work done by an individual at home for a wage agreed on with the employer’. [1] [2] [3]
  • No increase in minimum wage planned for 2008

    At a session of the Council of Economic and Social Agreement (Rada hospodářské a sociální dohody, RHSD [1]), the government announced to the social partners that it would not be increasing the minimum wage in 2008; instead, it planned to maintain the current level of CZK 8,000 (about €304 as at 2 January 2008) a month, or CZK 48.10 (€1.83) an hour based on the standard working week of 40 hours. The government last increased the minimum wage twice in 2006: from 1 January 2006 by 5.36 percentage points to CZK 7,570 (€287) a month or CZK 44.70 (€1.70) an hour and from 1 July by 5.1 percentage points. In 2007, the minimum wage remained at the same level. [1]
  • Social services, health and education unions call for better working conditions and pay

    The Health, Social Services and Education Union (Syndicat Santé, Services sociaux et éducatifs [1]), which is affiliated to the Luxembourg Confederation of Independent Trade Unions (Onofhängege Gewerkschaftsbond Lëtzebuerg, OGB-L [2]), believes that recent trends clearly reveal the main purpose of the reforms in the social services and health sector: this is to save money at the expense of working conditions and wages of the people employed in the sector. The trade union further argues that this situation impacts on the quality of services delivered. Moreover, the union believes that workers in the social services, education and health sectors are incorrectly relegated to a certain category of workers, and that their work is underrated. [1] [2]
  • Teachers strike for increase in education budget

    Since the spring of 2007, the Czech-Moravian Trade Union of Workers in Education (Českomoravský odborový svaz pracovníků školství, ČMOS PŠ [1]) has been running a campaign for increased public spending on education (*CZ0709019I* [2]). The government’s original budget for the education department for 2008 was CZK 118.3 billion (about €4.5 billion as at 21 December 2007), which, according to the trade unions, would mean insufficient funding for teachers’ pay, school equipment and further education for teachers. Therefore, ČMOS PŠ announced a strike alert on 28 August 2007. [1] [2]
  • Social partners hold joint talks on improving working conditions in retail chains

    For a long time, working conditions in retail chains in the Czech Republic have been subject to criticisms by trade unions and employees (*CZ0609029I* [1]). This criticism mainly concerns food hypermarkets and supermarkets. The situation in non-food retail chains, such as furniture and DIY outlets, is not as bad because employers are aware that their employees must be qualified to provide advice to customers; as a result, employers hire trained shop assistants and offer them further training to help retain them. However, food stores generally employ less qualified employees, women – who comprise 80% of all employees – and foreign workers from countries such as Poland, Slovakia and the Ukraine. These employees are often subjected to poor working conditions, such as not being paid for overtime, having their breaks shortened and exposure to working hours that are not family-friendly. As a result, retail chains experience a high employee turnover and agency employment is abused (*CZ0611049I* [2]). Employers also often tend to conclude part-time work contracts and replace domestic workers with unqualified foreign employees. All of these factors lead to low wages in the retail chains. Furthermore, some retail chains refuse to communicate with trade unions and are adverse to unions forming at the workplace. [1] [2]
  • Court rules in favour of Polish workers claiming to be ordinary employees

    In November 2007, 19 Polish construction workers who were hired as self-employed workers by their Norwegian employer won a lawsuit against their employer where they claimed to be working as ordinary employees. The lawsuit was brought against the employer on behalf of the workers by their representative trade union, the Norwegian United Federation of Trade Unions (Fellesforbundet [1]). The employer was ordered to pay damages to the workers equivalent to the difference between what they had been paid since the time of employment and the minimum wage for construction work, including overtime pay and holiday pay. [1]