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In October 2004, the PRAXIS Centre for Policy Studies presented the results
of a study Men and women in the Estonian labour market: assessing the gender
wage gap  (in Estonian). The study examined the main reasons behind the
gender pay gap and assessed the scale of the divide, using the micro-level
data of Labour Force Surveys (1998-2000). This survey is conducted by the
Statistical Office of Estonia and covers a representative sample (around
12,000 people per year) of the Estonian population aged 15-74.
In early 2003, an agreement on the need for an overarching revision of labour
law rules was concluded by the social partners and the government in the
National Interest Reconciliation Council (Országos Érdekegyeztető Tanács,
OÉT) (HU0209101N ). This resulted in the creation of a Labour Law
Codification Committee (Munkajogi Kodifikációs Bizottság, LLCC),
consisting of leading labour lawyers with academic, ministerial and
practitioner backgrounds After a series of meetings of the LLCC, a
'Conceptual paper on the creation of the new Labour Code' was drafted and
published in mid-2004. Sociologists and economists were involved in the
discussions and, although the social partners were not invited to participate
in a direct way, some of their representatives were present as experts. The
concept was drafted by only four of the members of LLCC, two professors from
Pécs University (Pécsi Tudományegyetem, PTE ), a senior official from
the Ministry of Employment and Labour (Foglalkoztatáspolitikai és
Munkaügyi Minisztérium, FMM ) and a practicing lawyer with substantial
experience in civil administration.
In October 2004, Greece's Corps of Labour Inspectors (SEPE) issued its annual
report for 2003. Key findings include evidence of an increasing trend towards
flexibility at work and a significant increase in accidents at work,
especially in particular sectors and occupational categories.
An EU Phare project entitled /Enhancement and development of social dialogue
in Slovenia/ began on 16 September 2002 and was concluded on 15 April 2004.
According to the final report of the project, it aimed to ensure an efficient
implementation of social dialogue in Slovenia and to link the work of the
national social partners more closely with the implementation of EU policies.
To meet these objectives the project was to:
In autumn 2004, Stojan Petric, a director of Kolektor Group, an engineering
company, submitted a proposal for changes to current labour legislation. The
proposed change would make it possible for companies to increase working time
by half an hour per day, up to 120 hours a year in total, out of which 60
hours would be paid and 60 unpaid. Moreover, for the additional paid working
time, employers should not pay taxes and social security contributions on
their employees' wages (SI0411301N ). The proposal was submitted to the
Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs (Ministrstvo za delo, družino
in socialne zadeve, MDDSZ ) and to the Slovenian Employers' Association
(Zdruzenje delodajalcev Slovenije, ZDS ) (SI0211102F ). It was also
sent, but only for information purposes, to the Chamber of Commerce and
Industry of Slovenia (Gospodarska zbornica Slovenije, GZS) and to the Metal
and Electro Industries Trade Union of Slovenia (Sindikat kovinske in
elektroindustrije Slovenije, SKEI ), an affiliate of the Union of Free
Trade Unions of Slovenia (Zveza svobodnih sindikatov Slovenije, ZSSS)
(SI0210102F ). Gregor Miklic, the ZSSS executive secretary, stated in
/Delavska anotnost/ (Workers' Unity), the ZSSS weekly, that the proposal
would mean an increase in the working week from 40 to more than 42 hours a
week, which is against Slovenian legislation.
According to figures published by the Polish State Labour Inspection (PLP) in
2004, the number of single-establishment collective agreements concluded rose
in 2003, for the first time in some years. The individual establishment is
the main bargaining level in Poland. The 441 agreements signed in 2003 dealt
mainly with pay issues, with some containing provisions on matters such as
work organisation. An increasing number of employers are suspending all or
part of agreements in force, citing financial hardship.
On 2 November 2004, the coalition government of the Liberal Party (Venstre)
and the Conservative Party (Det Konservative Folkeparti) and three opposition
parties - the Social Democratic Party (Socialdemokratiet), the Social Liberal
Party (Radikale Venstre) and the Socialist People’s Party (Socialistisk
Folkeparti) - agreed in parliament (the Folketing) a 'national compromise'
concerning the Danish referendum on the EU Constitutional Treaty (EU0406204F
). This is a repetition of a first national compromise reached on a
similar theme in 1993, when the last party to accept the deal was - as also
this occasion - the Socialist People’s Party. Under the new agreement,
referenda on Denmark's current 'opt-outs' from various aspects of EU
cooperation (eg including non-participation in the third stage of Economic
and Monetary Union - DK0004175F ) have been postponed for several years.
The five parties agreed that no vote can take place concerning one or more of
the Danish opt-outs at the same time as the referendum on acceptance of the
EU Constitutional Treaty. According to the agreement, all parties have a
right of veto and the accord may be changed or abolished only unanimously.
The parties have agreed that the agreement shall run for the same period as
the new Treaty.
In November 2004, Italy's three main trade union confederations (Cgil, Cisl
and Uil) and 13 employers’ organisations signed an agreement that calls for
a range of measures aimed at relaunching the economy of the South of Italy.
The social partners will present the document to the government and ask it to
include a number of immediate interventions in the 2005 state budget law.
Spanish trade unions have published several reports in 2004 highlighting the
high level of precarious and unstable employment among young people, and
examining the consequences in terms of insecurity and poor working
conditions. This article outlines the main findings.
In October 2004, the regional government and social partners signed an
agreement aimed at improving employment and boosting economic growth in the
Community of Madrid. The aims are to: move towards full employment; improve
the quality, stability and productivity of work; increase the involvement of
women in work and business (gender issues receive particular attention
throughout the agreement); improve the reconciliation of work and family
life; and enhance the competitiveness of the region.