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In June 1997, André Flahaut, the minister for civil service affairs,
proposed a number of measures which constitute a new statute for about
100,000 federal civil servants. The cabinet accepted his proposals, which
will become operational on 1 January 1998. The most important changes are to
be found in recruitment, appraisal and disciplinary procedures for public
servants and new measures to increase mobility within the civil service.
After 18 years in the wilderness, being frozen out of influence in the
corridors of government by Conservative administrations, trade unions have
been informed that they will be offered places on working groups being formed
to advise various government departments. The Trades Union Congress (TUC)
reports a substantially changed mood in Whitehall and Westminster, after
years of unions being systematically excluded from representing their
Following failure to agree in their current round of negotiations, about 400
journalists belonging to the Belgian Union of Professional Journalists
(Algemene Vereniging van Belgische Beroepsjournalisten, AVBB) carried out a
protest on Thursday 5 June 1997 in Brussels. The former collective agreement
had expired in March and negotiations between the journalists and the Belgian
Union of Newspaper Publishers (Belgische Vereniging van Dagbladuitgevers) had
not led to any new agreement.
Compulsory competitive tendering (CCT) was one of the key privatisation
measures introduced into the public sector by the Conservative governments of
1979-97, coming into effect 17 years ago for "blue-collar" services and four
years ago for "white-collar" services. The argument behind it was that
greater competition would induce greater efficiency and hence savings in
public expenditure. The Labour Government, however, believes that compulsion
in itself is not the best method and should instead be replaced by a promise
to provide "best value" for money.
On 28 May 1997, new collective agreements were concluded for the 460,000 or
so employees in west German banking. The signatories were the commerce,
banking and insurance workers' trade union HBV (Gewerkschaft Handel, Banken
und Versicherungen) and the white-collar workers' union DAG (Deutsche
Angestellten-Gewerkschaft) on one side, and the employers' association for
private banking (Arbeitgeberverband des privaten Bankgewerbes) and the
collective bargaining community for public banks (Tarifgemeinschaft
öffentlicher Banken) on the other.
Immediately following the Left's victory in France's May/June parliamentary
elections, Peugeot's management announced a new mass redundancy programme,
cutting 2,816 jobs, to the company-wide works council.
The results of the latest collective bargaining round at company level in
industry are emerging. An estimate from the Confederation of Danish
Industries (DI) shows an average increase in pay of 1.7%, or between DKK 1.75
and DKK 2.00 per hour. The increase is higher than in 1996, when bargaining
at company level produced an increase of between DKK 1.50 and DKK 1.75 per
On 20 June 1997 the management of one of Germany's leading chemical
companies, Bayer AG, and the company works council  (Gesamtbetriebsrat) -
politically supported by the chemical workers' union, IG
Chemie-Papier-Keramik- signed a new works agreement  to save production
sites and employment in Germany. The central aim of the agreement is to
guarantee production at the five German Bayer plants in Leverkusen, Dormagen,
Uerdingen, Elberfeld and Brunsbüttel.
On 10 June 1997, Renault management announced the appointment of an
independent expert who will evaluate, on an economic basis, the potential
measures envisaged to "compensate for the inefficiency involved in the
structure of Renault's production facilities".
The new and amended Work Environment Act adopted on 30 May 1997 has
infuriated theDanish Employers' Confederation (DA). The DA had criticised the
Minister of Labour,Jytte Andersen during the preparatory process (DK9705111N
), accusing her of ignoring the views of the social partners and attacking
the perceived hastiness of the process. It stated that: "Ms Andersen's
solitary approach will unavoidably create problems for tripartite
cooperation, which so far has been the modus operandi of the health and
safety system in Denmark". TheDanish Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) is in
agreement with the DA, stating that the process has been contrary to past
practice and characterised by secretiveness. Normally the Minister would
establish a tripartite committee, which would then propose action.