On 8 April, AKZO-Nobel and the unions reached agreement on both working time
reductions and pay increases. The dispute, which had served to divide
AKZO-Nobel and the industrial unions since 13 March (NL9703108N ), was
resolved to everyone's satisfaction.
In the new collective agreement in the Dutch building industry, signed in
March 1997, a relatively large pay increase has been matched by a degree of
increased flexibility regarding the use of temporary employment agency
workers and the rules governing working hours.
Akzo Nobel has announced that it will not observe its 1995 collective
agreement and that it will abandon the introduction of a standard 36-hour
week as of 1 July 1997. Its new proposals have divided the unions.
In accordance with its 1995 collective agreement, Akzo Nobel has evaluated
the effects of "working time differentiation" and more flexible working hours
on employment. Since the effects appear positive, a 36-hour week is expected
to be introduced by 1 July 1997.
Judging from a recent exchange of letters between a Dutch trade unions and
the Department of Justice, it would appear that cross-border cooperation
between unions, let alone their international merger, is beset with legal