The Belgian Defence Minister, Jean-Pol Poncelet, has announced measures that
will prompt far-reaching changes in the personnel structure of the Belgian
armed forces, covering the army, navy and airforce. The policy directly or
indirectly affects about 40,000 military personnel. Mr Poncelet's plans are
innovative and rather unusual for the armed forces, which are not normally
known for their swift changes in organisational structure and personnel
management. The Minister feels, however, that the armed forces should not be
exempt from moves towards greater flexibility, currently a prominent theme in
labour negotiations in Belgium. Moreover, changes in the armed forces can
serve as an example for other sectors of the Belgian economy.
The /Seymour-Smith/ case has raised the issue of the legality of the two-year
qualifying period of employment before employees may bring a claim for unfair
dismissal. The /Observer/ in April reported that many employees are having
their employment contracts terminated only days before completing the
two-year period which is necessary to gain employment protection. At present,
full-time employees must have accumulated two years' continuous service,
while for employees who work between eight and 16 hours per week, the
qualifying period is five years.
A separate agreement for white-collar employees in the Luxembourg iron and
steel was concluded in March 1997, despite efforts in negotiations to create
a single agreement for both white- and blue-collar staff.
Taking into account significant changes in the international environment and
their impact on the Greek economy, the Government in March 1997 announced
that it would invite the social partners to a process of social dialogue on a
set of three themes: development, competitiveness and employment. The first
meeting is scheduled to take place towards the end of May. Participants in
the dialogue include representatives of Ministries, employer and employee
organisations from both the private and the public sectors and the Chambers
of Commerce, amongst others.
The principal collective agreement in the Dutch information technology and
office equipment sector, concluded in April 1997 between the employers'
organisation and one of the trade unions, has been criticised by the other
unions and four large software and service companies
In March 1997, the social partners in Italy's leather and suede sector agreed
a code of conduct providing for the application of International Labour
Organisation (ILO) Conventions on the rights of workers and the employment of
At the beginning of 1997, the total privatisation of Telefónica, the largest
Spanish telecommunications firm, was completed. The trade unions in the
company, led by CCOO and UGT, have applied for a judicial review of this
measure, demanding its suspension until the new regulatory framework for the
sector is defined, and a public, universal and quality service is guaranteed
in the area of telecommunications. The Supreme Court has agreed to consider
the appeal but has not suspended the privatisation.
The shock announcement by French motor manufacturer Renault, on 28 February
1997, of the closure of its plant at Vilvoorde, led to an unprecedented
public display of condemnation among the political establishment of the
European Union (EU). The closure of the plant, in the Belgian Prime
Minister's constituency near Brussels, with the loss of 3,100 jobs, was
apparently announced without prior consultation with worker representatives.
The move was justified by Renault as being part of a wider reorganisation
aimed at making savings of over FRF 825 million per year. The closure of the
only Renault production site in Belgium is likely to lead a further 1,000
redundancies among suppliers and subcontractors; jobs which, in the current
economic climate in Belgium, are unlikely to be replaced in the near future.
The announcement came as a particularly heavy blow to a workforce who had
thought their jobs safe, having negotiated a major flexibility and investment
package only four years previously. The plant is generally regarded as being
highly productive and achieving high levels of quality. The decision by
Renault to close this plant in July 1997 has been interpreted by many workers
as a warning that even a willingness to accept more flexible working
practices can in future no longer be regarded as a guarantee for job
security. The predicament of the workers at Vilvoorde has led to an
unprecedented display of worker solidarity, not only among employees at other
Renault production sites in Europe, but also among workers in other troubled
On 19 March 1997, Parliament passed a reform of the Arbeitszeitgesetz(AZG,
Working Time Act) - see Record AT9702102F . This necessitated minor
changes to the Arbeitsruhegesetz(ARG, Leisure Time Act) which were also
passed on 19 March. However, the parliamentary Labour and Social Affairs
Committee, at the behest of the social partners, had introduced wording
allowing more flexibility than hitherto in regard to Sunday work, causing a
major public debate in its wake. In future it will be possible for the social
partners to conclude collective agreements permitting exceptions from the
general ban on Sunday work. They can only do so, the law states, if it is
necessary in order to avoid economic disadvantage or to safeguard employment.
As far as this is feasible, the collective agreement has to specify the
activities to be permissible on Sundays and the time allowed for them. Until
now it was not possible to grant specific exemptions from the ban on Sunday
work except if the technology required continuous production. The Minister of
Labour and Social Affairs could, however, permit a whole industry to work on
At the end of February 1997 the education and employment minister, James
Paice, was warning that "people ignore at their peril the value of investing
in learning", arguing that too many employers still do not realise the value
of investing in their employees. He went on to say that action should be
taken immediately to drive up skill levels and standards to keep up with
growing international competition. Employers were said to be a crucial part
of this process but, it is "not how much you invest in training, its how you
invest it". The Government thus backs the Investors in People (IIP) standard,
as it shows that spending money on people is an investment and not a cost.
Eurofound’s European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) examines both the objective circumstances of European citizens' lives and how they feel about those circumstances and their lives in general. This series consists of outputs from the EQLS 2003, the first edition of the survey.
Eurofound's European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) examines both the objective circumstances of European citizens' lives and how they feel about those circumstances and their lives in general. This series consists of outputs from the EQLS 2007, the second edition of the survey. The survey was first carried out in 2003.
Eurofound's European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) examines both the objective circumstances of European citizens' lives and how they feel about those circumstances and their lives in general. This series consists of outputs from the EQLS 2012, the third edition of the survey. The survey was first carried out in 2003.
Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) paints a wide-ranging picture of Europe at work across countries, occupations, sectors and age groups. This series consists of findings from the EWCS 2005, the fourth edition of the survey. The survey was first carried out in 1990.
Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) paints a wide-ranging picture of Europe at work across countries, occupations, sectors and age groups. This series consists of findings from the EWCS 2010, the fifth edition of the survey. The survey was first carried out in 1990.
This publication series explores scenarios for the future of manufacturing. The employment implications (number of jobs by sector, occupation, wage profile, and task content) under various possible scenarios are examined. The scenarios focus on various possible developments in global trade and energy policies and technological progress and run to 2030.
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 use of artificial intelligence, advanced robotics and the Internet of Things technologies in the workplace can bring about fundamental changes in work organisation and working conditions. This report analyses the ethical and human implications of the use of these technologies at work by drawing on qualitative interviews with policy stakeholders, input from the Network of Eurofound Correspondents and Delphi expert surveys, and case studies.