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)).
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 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.
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 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.
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, conducted in three rounds – in April and July 2020 and in March 2021. This is complemented by the inclusion of research into the ongoing effects of the pandemic in much of Eurofound’s other areas of work.
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.
Platform work – the matching of supply of and demand for paid labour through an online platform or app – is gaining increasing importance in Europe. It has attracted policy attention due to its inherent opportunities and challenges. Across Europe, initiatives have been introduced by governments, social partners and grassroots organisations aimed at harnessing the potential and reducing the risks of this employment form. The areas covered include regulation, representation, advice and information provision, as well as measures addressing social protection, ratings and training.
The European Jobs Monitor tracks changes in employment structure and contributes to the debate about whether European labour markets are polarising or upgrading. The European Jobs Monitor report in 2021 looks in particular at two dimensions of change in labour supply – increased female participation and population/workforce ageing – to show how they can contribute to an understanding of recent changes in employment structure.
This study presents policy-relevant findings on differential pay rates for men and women at occupational level. Previous research has underlined that the gender pay gap is biggest – and has been slowest to narrow – in well-paid jobs requiring professional qualifications. These are also jobs in which the female worker share is increasing relatively fast. The report maps the extent of the gender pay gap across the job-wage distribution, taking into account the shifting gender composition of specific sectors, occupations and jobs.
While often considered staid, social partner organisations have developed different ways of using technology to communicate with their members, as well as to organise, mobilise and develop both internally, among staff, and externally, vis-à-vis members and the public. This topical update maps current practices in social partner organisations, describes developments in the use of technologies, and outlines the impact on social partner activities and organisation.
What have been the major trends and policy developments regarding digitalisation in Europe? What do we know about the deployment of automation, digitisation and the platform economy? This flagship publication provides an overview of developments in Europe in recent years, as well as mapping the observable or expected effects on employment and working conditions, as well as exploring the implications from a policy perspective.
This report analyses and compares the industrial relations landscape in a number of sectors and activities that form a public service cluster. The report draws on Eurofound’s recent representativeness studies investigating the following sectors: education, human health, central government administration and local and regional government sector (including social services).
The COVID-19 pandemic radically reshaped workplace practices and work organisation across the EU. This report explores changes that occurred as a result of or during the COVID-19 pandemic in areas such as technological transformation, decision-making and remote working. The research sets out to learn from company experiences and measures that have proved critical to keeping businesses running. It aims to inform policymakers, employers and trade unions on how to make businesses, workplaces and workers more resilient in the face of a crisis such as COVID-19.
Following improvements in economic growth and labour market participation after the global financial and economic crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic constitutes a new, unprecedented challenge for the EU. The crisis threatens to pose an existential challenge to the EU’s cohesion and legitimacy. The subject of upward convergence is once again centre stage in the European policy debate. Expanding on work done on this topic in previous years, this flagship report traces developments in economic and social indicators between the economic crisis and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This report captures the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the quality of life of older citizens, including the impact on their well-being, finances, employment and social inclusion. It explores the effects on care use and reliance on other support. The report analyses policy measures that have been implemented in EU Member States that have proven particularly important for the quality of life of older citizens, for example, measures to support independent living.
This report examines the phenomenon of overtime in the EU, providing a comparative description of how it is regulated in EU Member States. It also assesses how contentious the issue can be and investigates the reasons behind the various disputes and debates. Finally, the report attempts to quantify and characterise the share of overtime for which workers are not paid or compensated. The analysis is based on information collected in EU Member States by the Network of Eurofound Correspondents.