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On 9 April 1997, the telecommunication conglomerate Deutsche Telekom AG and
the Deutsche Postgewerkschaft (DPG) postal workers' union signed a package of
enterprise-level collective agreements for the employees at the Telekom
subsidiary Deutsche Telekom Mobilnet GmbH (DeTeMobil). After five months of
negotiations, this package represents the first such collective agreement in
the mobile telephony industry since the beginning of the step-by-step
liberalisation of the telecommunications sector.
Some 25,000 blue-collar workers are covered by the agreement between the
Employers' Association of the Swedish Wood Products Industry and the Swedish
Wood Industry Workers' Union, reached on 4 April 1997. All employees receive
across-the-board minimum pay increases of SEK 1 per hour. In addition, the
local parties have SEK 0.95 an hour per worker at their disposal to allocate
on an individual basis. The settlement represents an overall increase in pay
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has published more information
about the activities to be launched as part of its "European Day of Action
for Employment", to take place all across the EU as well as in some Central
and Eastern European countries on 28 May 1997.
On 9 April 1997, the airline company Deutsche Lufthansa AG, the Union for
Public Services, Transport and Communication (Gewerkschaft Öffentliche
Dienste, Transport und Verkehr, ÖTV) and the German Salaried Employees'
Union (Deutsche Angestelltengewerkschaft, DAG) concluded a package deal,
which ended months of industrial action. The DAG agreed to be covered by the
Lufthansa-ÖTV collective agreements signed in October 1996. Furthermore, the
deal provides for an increase in the profit-sharing bonus of DEM 100 and an
overtime pay rise for cockpit employees. From September 1997, the trade
unions have the right to terminate the wage agreements in the event that
Lufthansa does not keep special rules which were jointly established. In
addition, Lufthansa, the ÖTV and the DAG agreed on the continuation of the
existing collective agreement which maintains the status quo for cabin crew,
as well as the existing general agreement on pay grades for ground staff, for
another three years.
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
On 15 April 1997, the Almega Industrial and Chemical Association and the
Industrial Union concluded a new collective agreement on wages and general
terms and conditions of employment for blue-collar workers in the
pharmaceutical, rubber, plastic and paint industries. It runs from 1 June
1997 to 30 April 1998.
In a recent report (/Social Europe/ 4/96, published in March/April 1997), the
European Commission assesses the progress towards the achievement of the
goals of the medium-term social action programme covering the period between
1995-7. This social action programme, adopted in April 1995, is seen by the
Commission as marking a breakthrough for new ideas and policies. The basic
concept underlying the programme is that social policy is a productive factor
facilitating change and progress, rather than a burden on the economy or an
obstacle to growth.
Just one week after the German social partners and Government found a
compromise on the future development of the German mining industry
(DE9703104F ) the Ruhr region (one of Germany's oldest industrial areas)
was again the focus of social conflict. On 18 March 1997 the second-largest
German steel producer, Krupp-Hoesch, announced plans for a hostile takeover
of its main competitor, Thyssen. Krupp-Hoesch made an offer to the Thyssen
shareholders to buy their shares for DEM 435 each, which was about 25% higher
than the current quotation on the German stock exchange. The president of
Krupp-Hoesch, Gerhard Cromme, stated that the acquisition of Thyssen would
create a lot of synergy effects, and could help to improve the international
competitiveness of the German steel industry.
In April 1997, the Confindustria employers' confederation organised a
"virtual demonstration "of around 14,000 employers against a government
exercise to raise public revenue and reduce spending by a total of ITL 15,500
billion, deemed necessary to keep Italy's 1997 budget within the parameters
set by the Maastricht Treaty on European Union.
In recent years there has been increasing public concern over what is widely
viewed as the spiralling remuneration of company directors. At a time when
companies are keen to promote pay schemes based on performance, too often the
links between directors' pay and performance are viewed as non-existent. In a
report on director's remuneration publicised in March 1997, the IOD is keen
to set the record straight. It argues that, although it recognises that
directors' pay in the largest companies has been on average high, it has been
relatively modest for those directors who work for small to medium-sized
enterprises. In fact, the median pay increase for this group of directors in
1996 was 4%, the equivalent of the increase in average earnings for all
employees in that year.