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The national debt crisis, which has been affecting the Spanish economy since
2009, worsened in August last. On 5 August, the Spanish risk premium (the
spread between the interest offered on 10-year Spanish bonds and 10-year
German bonds over the same period) reached its highest level in history, at
421 points. That is, the annual interest on the country’s 10-year bond was
6.47%, 4.21% higher than German bonds. The European Central Bank bought
Spanish sovereign bonds in an attempt to lower the risk premium. Furthermore,
on 19 August, the government enacted a Royal Decree, containing more measures
to decrease the public deficit. These included greater use of cheaper generic
drugs by the health service, and arranging for advance taxation of
enterprises with a turnover of more than €20 million. The Spanish Prime
Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, fearing a new national debt crisis
in the autumn has also proposed that a constitutional limit should be set on
the public deficit. His view is that this would be the least painful measure
in order to ease the tension in the financial markets.
Luxembourg’s government programme for 2009–2014  referred to the need
for reform and the modernisation of the state, which includes making changes
to the way the civil service works and how civil servants are paid.
Members of the Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU
) at the Dublin operation of Spring Grove Services voted in May 2011, by a
majority of over six to one, to accept a major wage restructuring agreement.
The result means that the basic pay  rate for the existing main staff
category (that is, ‘production’ workers) is to drop from €10.56 per
hour to a new rate of €8.71 per hour. Existing ‘distribution staff’
(drivers) will see their hourly rate fall from €14.40 to €10.30.
On 11 August 2011, the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis ) released new
youth unemployment figures (in German) . They showed that in June 2011 the
youth unemployment rate in Germany was 9.1%, with 430,000 young people aged
between 15 and 24 out of work. This is higher than the average German
unemployment rate of 6.1% for those aged 15 to 74 years. The young are also
more likely to have flexible employment relationships when they do find work,
with 27.3% holding a fixed-term contract in 2010 compared with 7.9% of the
total employed population aged 15 to 64 years. These figures exclude those
still at school or in (vocational) training.
Regional Railways (PR ) company was established in 2001, initially as PKP
PR, to indicate its origins in the former monopoly Polish State Railways (PKP
). PR assumed responsibility for local and regional passenger transport
but also launched a special type of national, inter-regional train service.
Consequently, PR has become the largest passenger railway operator in Poland,
with roughly 300,000 customers daily using approximately 2,700 trains. As of
2011, PR has nearly 13,000 employees.
Eni  (Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi) was created as a public body in 1953 and
later transformed into a joint-stock company in 1992. Since then, a
considerable quantity of its nationally owned shares have been sold by
various Italian governments. However, the state still maintains control of
the company: it holds more than 30% of shares and is entitled to use a golden
share option which gives it voting rights and privileges beyond those of
The disagreement between social partners over collective bargaining reform
has obliged Spain’s government to unilaterally introduce reform of the
collective bargaining  regulations, believed to be necessary in order to
preserve jobs against a backdrop of economic crisis and rising unemployment.
The new decree aimed to tackle two particular problems of the current
collective bargaining regulations.
The National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers (RMT ) has
some 77,000 members, working in the railway sector, the shipping and offshore
industries, and bus and road-freight transport. The Transport Salaried
Staffs’ Association (TSSA ) represents around 28,000 administrative,
managerial, professional and technical workers in the railway sector, travel
trade, ports and ferries.
At the end of the school year in Poland, usually around the beginning of
June, local governments determine how many teachers will be needed in their
schools for the next school year. From a survey of nearly 100 districts (in
Polish)  carried out by /Dziennik Gazeta Prawna/ during June 2011, it
appears that local governments intend to reduce the number of teachers for
the first time in three years. The data suggest that in some districts the
layoffs would be as high as 20%–30%. The figure shows the number of
teachers employed since 2008.
Before negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement in the banking
sector began in autumn 2010, the Luxembourg Bankers’ Association (ABBL )
announced its intention to introduce profound changes to the philosophy that
has governed the sector’s industrial relations for years. One of the
ABBL’s key aims was to question automatic salary increases based on
seniority and to replace the system with a merit-based policy.