Under the terms of the Works Constitution Act  (Betriebsverfassungsgesetz,
§§ 111f), a procedure known as "reconcilement of interests "
(Interessenausgleich) aims at reconciling the positions of the employer and
the workforce in case of a proposed substantial alteration of the
establishment, or of bankruptcy. This involves weighing the respective
interests against one another, as well as reaching an agreement on the
procedure of change and the necessary human resource planning. Detailed
arrangements for the subsequent implementation of the changes are then
subject to the co-determination rights of the works council . In cases
where the employer makes no attempt to arrive at an agreed reconcilement of
interests, or without compelling reasons fails to abide by one, employees who
are dismissed or suffer economic disadvantage as a result may claim
compensation for the loss of their job. A social plan  (Sozialplan) is a
programme drawn up in the form of a special works agreement 
(Betriebsvereinbarung) between the employer and the works council, and
resembles a special form of redundancy programme. It contains the
compensation packages and the human resource policies available to the
employees affected by the changes. There is no obligation to draw up a social
plan, provided that: the proposed alteration to the establishment consists
solely of dismissals; certain maximum limits in terms of a percentage of the
total workforce are not exceeded; or the case involves a newly formed
Health and safety at work has arisen as a very serious matter of social
concern over recent years and has become a focus of interest for both the
state and the social institutions concerned. The magnitude and complexity of
the problem and the need to find direct and effective solutions have induced
both employers and employees to examine the problem of occupational hazards
and conditions affecting the working environment in general. It is estimated
that in Greece the national economy is burdened by GRD 20 billion a year due
to accidents at work (excluding costs of medical care). The Social Insurance
Foundation (IKA) alone receives 25,000 reports of accidents at work a year.
The problem is even bigger if we add in the cost of occupational illnesses
which remain undiagnosed, since these are ignored by the official statistics.
At the beginning of March the first steps were taken towards the creation of
the first "European super union". One of Britain's biggest trade unions, the
General, Municipal and Boilermakers' Union (GMB), signed a joint membership
agreement with the German chemical workers' union. The deal between the GMB
and IG Chemie-Papier-Keramik means that 1.8 million workers will be entitled
to joint membership. Although the two unions may not provide the same
services, UK workers in Germany can expect legal advice, support from
representatives, and training facilities, while German workers in the UK can
expect legal advice, health and safety information and financial benefits
(Record DE9703206N ).
In a Communication published in March 1997, the European Commission calls for
the modernisation, adaptation and improvement of social protection systems in
the member states. It argues that these systems, most of which were
established decades ago, no longer conform with the changing economic and
social conditions of today's society. The Commission sees a particular need
for social protection systems, which currently account for 28% of total EU
GDP, to be adapted to:
The Government has published a working document, entitled "Maritime and ports
policy at the approach of the 21st Century", for public debate. In the
document it proposes a number of measures to deregulate dock work, and the
National Federation of Dockers' Unions has criticised the lack of prior
dialogue and is opposing the new proposals.
Workers in the performing arts have been protesting about threats to their
special unemployment benefit scheme arising from employers' positions in the
recent renewal of the agreement on the general UNEDIC scheme.
The cause of the industrial unrest was the announcement by the ruling
Conservative-Liberal coalition Government that it was planning to scale back
annual subsidies for the - basically west - German hard coal (Steinkohle)
industry dramatically. During the ensuing protests, Germany saw a human chain
of more than 90 kilometres straight through the Ruhr coal heartland, and
sympathy demonstrations from east German brown coal miners. Miners in the
Ruhr and the Saar areas went on strike. Tens of thousands of miners took to
the streets, occupied pits and town halls, and blocked roads as well as the
Bonn headquarters of Chancellor Helmut Kohl's ruling Christian Democratic
Party (CDU) and its coalition partner, the Free Democrat Party (FDP). In the
days before the compromise, the protests of the rank and file seemed to get
out of control of the miners' union, IG Bergbau und Energie (IGBE), and its
chair, Hans Berger. For the first time in German post-war history, furious
miners even entered the restricted area surrounding government buildings in
Bonn where no public meetings or marches may be held. As an "act of
solidarity with miners fighting for their existence" the Social Democratic
Party (SPD) temporarily boycotted a meeting in which opposition and coalition
politicians were discussing the reform of the German tax system. When the
miners laid siege to Bonn, Chancellor Kohl temporarily put off talks with the
union leaders to avoid having to negotiate under duress.
The phenomenon of illegal immigration in Greece has taken on an ever more
serious dimension. According to evidence from the Ministry of Public Order
the number of foreign workers without a work permit is now around 400,000,
and is expected to increase still further owing to the recent crises in
Albania and Bulgaria. The main countries of origin are Albania, Poland,
Bulgaria and Romania, as well as countries in Asia and Africa. However, there
are also around 30,000 additional foreign nationals who originate from EU
member states, and obtain a special written permit from the Ministry of
One of the keenest debates in industrial relations in Europe is the
relationship between the institutional structure of the labour market and
economic performance and, in particular, the contribution of the wage
determination process to national competitiveness. Considerable attention has
focused on European economies, like Germany and Sweden, whose traditionally
centralised and coordinated bargaining systems have come under significant
pressures in recent years. The case of Ireland has attracted less attention.
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.
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, conducted in three rounds – in April and July 2020 and in March 2021. This is complemented by the inclusion of research into the ongoing effects of the pandemic in much of Eurofound’s other areas of work.
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.