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In August 2002, a woman was jailed  for three months for assaulting a
pregnant teacher during an argument over the price of a school trip. Also
during 2002, another teacher was left with a visual impairment after she was
head-butted by a four-year-old. Earlier in the year, a bus driver needed
surgery after being shot in the face with an airgun. These are just some
examples of the everyday risk workers in some sectors and occupations face of
verbal abuse and physical violence, ranging from shouting and swearing to
punching and stabbing. Survey evidence, together with evidence gathered by
trade unions, suggests that public sector workers and those whose work
involves direct contact with the public are especially vulnerable. Such
evidence was presented on 2 December 2002 at a joint Trades Union Congress
(TUC), Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Health and Safety
Executive (HSE) seminar.
Ireland’s ODEI-Equality Tribunal is an independent quasi-judicial body
established in 1999, whose core function is to investigate, and/or mediate,
complaints of unlawful discrimination at work (IE0008218N ). According to
the Equality Tribunal, its new mediation service is, on average, three times
quicker than the alternative equality dispute resolution option – a formal
investigation decided by an equality officer . Equality cases that have
resulted in mediated agreements have been completed in just six months (from
the original date of referral to the date of signing the agreement), compared
with an average of 18 months in employment investigation cases (again, from
the original date of referral to the date of decision).
In December 2002, the Finnish social partners formally signed a new two-year
incomes policy agreement, which covers over 90% of wage earners. A few
sectors which are strategically important for Finnish industry, such as
seafaring and transport, rejected the deal. The cost effect of the of the
agreed wage increases is 2.9% in 2003 and 2.2% in 2004.
The third annual programme of work based on the Foundation's four-year programme 2001-2004: Analysing and anticipating change to support socio-economic progress. Among the aims of the programme are to: strengthen monitoring activities and strategic research in the three core areas of expertise (Living Conditions, Working Conditions, Industrial Relations) and EMCC; meet specific needs of key policy audiences; incorporate candidate countries in all main areas of activity; increase existing collaboration with the European Commission and strengthen relationships with the other EU Institutions; and reinforce the Foundation's role as a forum for debate.
In November 2002, the Dutch government and social partners reached a 'social
agreement' for 2003, including a pay increase limit of 2.5% - the first such
centrally agreed wage ceiling for a decade. Under the agreement, the
government has released a sum of EUR 1 billion to meet the social partners'
demands, including cuts in tax and social security contributions.
On 15 November 2002, Italian metalworkers' trade unions organised a one-day
general strike across the sector. The action focused on supporting
negotiations over the restructuring plan and large-scale job losses announced
at the Fiat auto group and at putting pressure on the government to draw up a
national industrial policy, at a time when the Italian metalworking sector is
experiencing major problems.
On 29-30 November 2002, Cgil, one of Italy's three main trade union
confederations, organised a demonstration in Naples in favour of the
development of the country's southern regions and against the government's
recent 2003 budget law.
On 18 October 2002, Cgil, one of Italy's three main trade union
confederations, organised a one-day general strike against the government's
economic policy and other recent developments. Estimates on the proportion of
workers taking part in the strike varied from 30% to 58%..
In late 2002, the Italian banking sector is facing further restructuring and
job losses. Economic forecasters estimate that there will be 6,000-7,000
redundancies over 2003-4, while trade unions are concerned that 15,000-20,000
jobs could go.
During the week between the end of the first 48-hour strike held in its
current pay dispute by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) on 13-15 November
(UK0210104F  and UK0211107F ) and the eight-day stoppage due to begin
on 22 November, intensive negotiations took place between the FBU and the
local authority fire service employers. Talks continued into the early hours
of 22 November and culminated in a draft agreement. This linked pay increases
equating to 16% on the total paybill by November 2003 to the completion of
negotiations over the modernisation of the fire service. The FBU indicated
that it was prepared to call off the eight-day stoppage on the basis of the
proposed deal. However, the government was not prepared to endorse the terms
of the draft agreement and the strike duly began at 09.00 as planned. FBU
general secretary Andy Gilchrist said that government intervention had
'wrecked' the chance of avoiding the strike. Deputy Prime Minister John
Prescott said that it would have been irresponsible to sanction a deal that
the government had not had the opportunity to evaluate properly.