On 2 April 1997 it became public that during the ongoing collective
bargaining at the German automobile company, Volkswagen, management had made
a proposal to create a new "internal temporary employment agency"
(Zeitarbeitsgesellschaft). Depending on the incoming orders, the agency's
newly hired employees would be set to work at the different Volkswagen
plants. Volkswagen proposed to pay the new temporary employees under the
terms and conditions of the current branch-level collective agreement in the
The recent proposal by the EU agriculture commissioner, Franz Fischler, to
alter the method of granting Community aid to olive farmers fell like a
bombshell in Spain. This reform would not only have serious economic
repercussions, but would also lead to the loss of at least 70,000 jobs,
according to some trade unions in the sector. Farm-owners' organisations,
cooperatives, trade unions and the regional and central administrations have
rejected the proposal and are preparing all kinds of protest action.
In April 1997, the Norwegian Supreme Court found the Government not guilty of
abusing compulsory arbitration in order to stop industrial conflict. The
Federation of Offshore Workers' Trade Unions (OFS), which brought the
domestic lawsuit against the Government, lost on all counts.
In the framework of negotiations for the two-year National General Collective
Agreement covering the years 1996 and 1997, the GSEE (Greek General
Confederation of Labour) trade union confederation placed on the agenda of
discussions with the employers its demand for the reduction of weekly working
hours to 35 without a reduction in pay. The negotiations led to the creation
of a working party of technical experts from both sides of industry to study
the issue and its effects on employment and competitiveness.
An international comparison of labour disputes from 1986 to 1995 by /Labour
Market Trends/ (April 1997) highlights that the UK had the fourth-lowest
strike rate of the 22 member countries of the Organisation for Economic
Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 1995. Only Austria, Switzerland and
Germany had a lower level of strikes than the UK. The UK strike rate has been
below the OECD average since 1986 and below the EU average since 1990.
Between 1991 and 1995 the average rate in the UK was 24 working days lost per
1,000 workers - an 82% fall over the previous five-year period. But the UK's
rise in the international "league table" of two places since 1994 took place
despite an increase in the strike rate itself.
New legislation proposed by the Portuguese Government on the regulation of
part-time work is currently under discussion amongst the social partners. The
most important points include the definition of part-time work, the
requirement that part-timers should have employment contracts in writing and
pro rata minimum pay.
In the Netherlands, there has been a long struggle over how responsibilities
for administering social security should be divided between social partners
and the government. The Dutch social security administration has been
reorganised - most recently from March 1997 - under pressure of criticism
about organisations in which the social partners play a dominant role.
Financing the social security system has become a structural problem in the
relations between the Government and the social partners. This has become
especially manifest in conflicts concerning the level at which social
security contributions should be set.
A Presidential Decree on the establishment of European Works Councils (EWCs)
in Greece was signed on 20 March 1997. Its purpose is to transpose into Greek
law EC Directive 94/45/EC on the provision of information and consultation to
employees in Community-scale undertakings and Community-scale groups of
undertakings, which, under the terms of the Directive, should have been
transposed by 22 September 1996. The Presidential Decree takes up the option
provided in the Directive of not applying its provisions to maritime workers.
Under a novel provision in the Finance Bill, 1997 which gives effect to this
year's Budget, employees are now entitled to tax relief on individual
lump-sum payments paid in the context of company restructuring. The payments
can be made by companies to their employees for agreeing to pay
restructuring, which must involve overall pay reductions of at last 10% of an
employee's average salary for the previous two years and must remain in force
for at least five years. While it is possible that basic pay could be hit by
the measure, the sort of payroll reductions envisaged are more likely to
effect non-basic pay items such as overtime, bonus payments and shift
An Intergovernmental Conference is the method used by the Member States of
the European Union (EU) to agree on basic changes to the Treaties which
govern the workings of the Union. Changes to the Treaties are not carried out
within the framework of the EU itself, but by direct negotiations between the
governments of the Member States within the context of the IGC. The current
IGC is the sixth in the history of European integration.
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, launched in April 2020, with five rounds completed at different stages during 2020, 2021 and 2022. This is complemented by the inclusion of research into the ongoing effects of the pandemic in much of Eurofound’s other areas of work.
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.
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.
Automation and digitisation technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), are undergoing a rapid evolution. This impacts working conditions in a variety of ways and raises a host of new ethical concerns. In recent times, the policy debate surrounding these concerns has become more prominent and has increasingly focused on AI. Key EU policy developments, especially in relation to AI, have shaped the policy debate in many EU Member States, and in some instances they have led to the adoption of new policy initiatives that address these concerns in the context of work and employment.
Every year, Eurofound compiles a report summarising the key developments in minimum wages across EU countries. The report explains how minimum wages are set and describes the role of social partners, covering the evolution of statutory rates, collectively agreed wages and the national debates on these issues.
As part of a process to collect information on essential services, the European Commission (DG EMPL) requested Eurofound to provide input on certain aspects of existing and planned measures in the Member States to improve access to essential services, in reference to Principle 20 of the European Pillar of Social Rights. The scope of the exercise included energy services, public transport and digital communications, and the focus was on people at risk of poverty or social exclusion (in practice, people on low incomes in most cases).
The civil aviation sector has been deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is one of the most severe crises the sector has ever experienced, giving rise to a number of significant challenges for companies and workers alike. This study will explore the role of social dialogue and collective bargaining in how the sector is adapting to the pandemic. What kinds of changes have been introduced, either through social dialogue or collective bargaining? Are the changes temporary or permanent?
This report investigates the practical implementation of the European Works Council (EWC) Directive at company level. It explores the challenges faced by existing EWCs and provides examples of identified solutions and remaining issues from the point of view of both workers and management. The report looks at the way that EWCs meet the requirements of the EWC Directive in terms of establishing processes of information and consultation.
This report will map the existing regulations on telework in European Union Member States, including in legislation and collective agreements. It will present the most recent changes to these regulations and shed light on how the future of (tele)work could be regulated at both national and EU level, in order to improve working conditions in telework arrangements and reduce the risks associated with telework and with specific ways of working remotely.
This report explores the association between skills use and skills strategies and establishment performance, and how other workplace practices, in terms of work organisation, human resources management and employee involvement, can impact on this. It looks at how skills shortages can be addressed, at least in part, by creating an environment in which employees are facilitated and motivated to make better use of the skills they already have. This further supports the business case for a more holistic approach to management.
The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have varied across sectors, occupations and categories of worker (for instance, according to gender, age or employment status). Hours worked have declined the most in sectors such as accommodation services and food and beverage services, and in occupations heavily reliant on in-person interaction, such as sales work. At the same time, it’s in these sectors that labour shortages have become increasingly evident as labour markets have begun to normalise.
This report focuses on trends and developments in collective bargaining that were evident from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. It examines potential new strategic approaches and priorities incorporated in negotiation agendas, as well as collective bargaining practices and coordination at sector and company levels in the private sector.
This policy brief will provide an update on upward convergence in the economic, social and institutional dimensions of the European Union, as outlined in the European Pillar of Social Rights and its accompanying Social Scoreboard.