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  • More employers recognising unions, reports TUC

    In its latest annual survey of union recognition, published on 21 January 2002, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) reports that unions won 470 new union recognition agreements from employers in 2001 - almost three times the number (159) secured the previous year.
  • Government wants to tighten up relocation rules

    On 6 December 2001, the Swedish government decided to commission two public bodies, the Labour Market Board (Arbetsmarknadsstyrelsen) and the National Institute for Working Life (Arbetslivsinstitutet), to survey the legislation of the EU Member States' concerning employers' responsibilities in company closures. Discussion in Sweden on this issue was intensified during 2001 because of a rise in the number of redundancy announcements. An increased tendency for companies to move their Swedish production abroad has also caused concern. For example, two well-known multinationals, the US-based Flextronics (electronics) and the German-based Continental (tyres) recently decided to end production at their Swedish factories and relocate it to other European countries (Portugal and Poland). The government has stated on several occasions that Swedish rules on company relocations might be too generous for employers. The government believes that closures must be handled in socially acceptable ways for the employees, and for the often very small locality where the factory is situated, for which a closure may have major negative effects. The current problems are especially acute in cases when activities are moved abroad in order to obtain higher profits.
  • Sick pay and rehabilitation reform plan presented

    A governmental committee has been looking at the Swedish sickness insurance and rehabilitation system, with a brief to examine the consequences of major increases in the costs of insurance and of the numbers of people taking sick leave since the late 1990s, as well as to come up with ideas for possible changes. On 8 January 2002, the chair of the committee, Jan Rydh, presented its final report, an 'action plan for improved health in working life' (/Handlingsplan för ökad hälsa i arbetslivet/, SOU 2002:5).
  • Experimental sabbatical leave scheme launched

    The minority Social Democratic Party (Socialdemokratiska Arbetarepartiet, SAP) government announced in its national budget bill for 2002 that it would present a proposal on 'experimental activities' regarding sabbatical leave in 10 municipal areas, as a result of an agreement with the Left Party (Vänsterpartiet) and the Green Party (Miljöpartiet De Gröna). The experiment should start in early 2002 and last to the end of 2004. The government subsequently agreed on the measure and presented the framework for the project, which begins in February 2002, in December 2001.
  • First race discrimination finding highlights preferences given to EEA nationals

    A case of racial discrimination (IE0112228F [1]) has been established in Irish employment law for the first time, with an award to a Malaysian doctor of the following: salary arrears for almost nine months; overtime payments averaging 29 hours per week over that period; and payment of a 'living out' allowance for that period.. [1]
  • Work permit rules tightened due to economic downturn

    The Irish government has made new work permit applications for workers from outside theEuropean Economic Area (EEA) more difficult, by insisting that applications be accompanied by a letter from the Training and Employment Authority (FAS), and by introducing a substantially higher application fee. The new regime, announced in December 2001, applies from 2 January 2002.
  • Special agreement covers euro changeover in banking

    In January 2002, a special collective agreement was signed regulating pay and conditions in Greek banks during the time when both the drachma and the euro are in circulation - ie up until the end of February 2002. The deal provides for longer bank-opening hours during this period and a lump-sum payment to all employees.
  • MEDEF holds extraordinary congress

    France's MEDEF employers' confederation held an extraordinary congress in January 2002, at which nine resolutions were passed, calling for major change in areas such as working time, industrial relations, training, social security and taxation. MEDEF's proposals are aimed at launching a debate with both trade unions and political parties in the run-up to major national elections in the first half of 2002.
  • Decentralised pay bargaining in banking as unions call strike

    In early 2002, company-level pay bargaining has been occurring in French banks, with varying results. The trade unions in the banking sector have been attempting to mobilise employees, calling a strike and other action with mixed success from bank to bank. As well as pay, employment and working conditions, the unions are seeking improvements in the safety of bank employees.
  • UNSA seeks greater representativeness

    France's National Federation of Independent Unions (UNSA), founded in 1993, held its third national conference in January 2002. Currently a grouping of mainly public sector unions, UNSA is seeking to improve its presence in the private sector when the next elections for members of industrial tribunals are held in December 2002, and consequently to assert its representative status.