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On 21 May 1997, after five bargaining rounds, the miners' trade union
Industriegewerkschaft Bergbau und Energie (IGBE), the salaried employees'
union Deutsche Angestelltengewerkschaft (DAG) and the Unternehmensverband
Ruhrbergbau (UVR) employers' association for the hard-coal mining industry in
Northrhine-Westphalia, concluded a pilot agreement which covers roughly
75,000 employees in the Northrhine-Westphalia hard-coal mining industry. The
framework for the contents of the agreement was partly set by the "coal
compromise" of 13 March 1997 (DE9703104F ).
After several months of negotiations involving various local and central
government agencies, a long struggle for jobs at Grundig came to an end in
May 1997. In a region where workers reject job mobility, the only remaining
recourse is the courts and political channels. Dialogue between the board of
directors and workers' representatives has proved unsuccessful.
The multinational industrial diamond manufacturer, De Beers, is planning a
major restructuring programme at its Shannon plant, which will involve an
overhaul of its reward and grading systems, as well as some recruitment and a
number of redeployments and voluntary redundancies. The key changes,
announced to employees at the end of April 1997, involve the proposed
introduction of a performance-based pay system and the establishment of a new
lower entry rate of pay. There would be an element of "red circling" for
existing employees at the top of their scales, which would remain unchanged
apart from the application of nationally agreed pay rises.
On 3 March 1997, the Hanover regional branch of the metalworkers' trade union
Industriegewerkschaft Metall (IG Metall) and the management of PPS Personal-,
Produktions- und Servicegesellschaft mbH, Salzgitter, concluded a company
agreement on partial retirement - the first such agreement in the
metalworking industry. Negotiations between IG Metall and the metalworking
employers' association Gesamtverband der metallindustriellen
Arbeitgeberverbände (Gesamtmetall), first about industry-wide and later
about regional collective agreements on partial retirement, reached an
impasse in June 1997. Although the agreement at PPS was signed in March,
reliable information has only recently been publicised.
During May-June 1997, Portuguese trade unions took part in the rallies and
days of action organised throughout the countries of the European Union in
order to emphasise work and employment as prime concerns for future European
On 3 June 1997 the Transport and General Workers' Union (TGWU) representing
9,000 British Airways ground staff and BASSA, the cabin crew union (linked to
the TGWU) representing a further 9,000 employees, began balloting members
over whether to take industrial action. On 9 June, they were joined by 4,500
members of the GMB general union. If the ballots support strike action, it is
likely to take place in mid-July.
In the first ballot for the chair of the federal executive committee of the
teachers' trade union, Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft (GEW), held
among congress delegates on 26 May 1997, Dieter Wunder, chair since 1981,
surprisingly and unexpectedly failed to reach the necessary absolute
majority, although no rival candidate had been nominated. Mr Wunder
subsequently stood down as a candidate for the second ballot. It was the
first time that a trade union affiliated to the German Trade Union Federation
(Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, DGB) had rejected the re-election of its chair
in such a way. After the results of the first ballot became public, the
congress was interrupted for several hours. During the previous months, there
had been considerable and controversial internal discussions on the
relationship between the federal executive committee and the executive
committees of regional GEW branches, as well as on leadership, trade union
ideologies and GEW strategies. Many delegates asserted that they wanted to
teach Mr Wunder a lesson, though it was not their intention to vote him out.
New figures presented in the revised national Budget in May 1997 show that
employment in Norway has increased faster than earlier estimates predicted,
and that unemployment is continuously decreasing. Growth in prices and wages
is expected to be moderate for both 1997 and 1998.
The European framework agreement on part-time work was formally signed on 6
June 1997 (EU9706131F ) by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC),
the Union of Industrial and Employers' Confederations of Europe (UNICE) and
the European Centre of Enterprises with Public Participation and of
Enterprises of General Economic Interest (CEEP). The stated purpose of the
agreement is to remove discrimination against part time workers, improve the
quality of part-time jobs and facilitate part-time work on a voluntary basis.
The European Commission will propose a Directive implementing the agreement
to the Council of Ministers later this year.