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Since the the main trade unions and employers' organisations signed an
agreement providing a framework for lower-level collective bargaining in
2002, equal opportunities for men and women has become an explicit aim of
collective bargaining. The data available in 2004 indicate an increasing
incorporation of this issue in collective agreements, though the agreed
content still tends to consist of declarations of intent rather than specific
policies and action. National sectoral agreements seems to offer the best
results in terms of the inclusion of equal opportunities in bargaining,
whereas the company level shows the best results in the establishment of good
On 20 October 2004, the Hans Böckler Foundation (Hans-Böckler-Stiftung,
HBS) published the results  of a representative survey carried out to
determine views amongst the general public about board-level co-determination
. The survey was commissioned by HBS, a trade union-related foundation
which has as one of its aims the promotion of co-determination and support
for employee representatives on supervisory board  s, and conducted by a
polling institute during August 2004. It asked a representative sample of
1,000 randomly chosen people about their views on the German co-determination
system. The sample consisted of 52% women and 48% men. Of respondents, 52%
were employees (including temporarily unemployed people) and 48% were not
employed (pensioners, students, apprentices etc).
The results of the Fifth National Survey on Working Conditions reveal an improvement in the risk preventive systems used by Spanish businesses. However, working conditions seem to have slightly disimproved, according to workers’ self-assessment of their own conditions. This trend has had negative health outcomes.
This report examines social exclusion through illness, specifically the processes whereby people who develop chronic illnesses are excluded from the workforce. It proposes a new model for understanding the nature of this problem, it develops an assessment tool for new initiatives in the area and makes recommendations on how best to promote social inclusion for people with chronic illnesses. The report addresses this knowledge gap by gathering information on relevant initiatives in seven Member States.
On 18 October 2004, the minority Social Democratic Party (Socialdemokratiska
Arbetarepartiet, SAP) government, with support from the Green Party
(Miljöpartiet de Gröna) and the Left Party (Vänsterpartiet), presented a
bill on measures to decrease Sweden's very high sickness absence rate,
entitled 'Driving forces for decreased sick absence' (/Drivkrafter för
minskad sjukfrånvaro/, Prop. 2004/05:21). The proposals mainly follow those
announced in a 'declaration of intent' produced by the three parties in
December 2003 (SE0401105F ).
In October 2004, the Union of Romanian Employers (UPR), grouping six of
Romania's nationally representative employers’ organisations (of the 14
currently in existence) held a forum, the first joint initiative of its kind.
The forum drew attention to economic 'competitiveness gaps' and proposed a
number of changes to current social dialogue provisions.
According to the Wage Law, the national minimum wage is determined annually
by government decree after the central organisations of trade unions and
employers have reached consensus about its level for the next year. The
negotiations over the national minimum wage for 2005 have been lengthier and
much more intense than the negotiations in 2003 over the minimum wage for
2004. Though their positions have become a little more similar in some
points, the overall views of the social partners still differ quite
considerably. The main issue has been whether the demands made by the trade
union and employers' central organisations have been in accordance with a
long-term agreement concluded in 2001. In 2001, the Estonian Employers’
Confederation (Eesti Tööandjate Keskliit, ETTK ) (EE0310102F ) and
the Confederation of Estonian Trade Unions (Eesti Ametiühingute Keskliit,
EAKL ) (EE0308101F ) signed a bipartite agreement on the principles for
establishing the minimum wage in the period up until 2008 (EE0311101N ).
According to this agreement, the rise in the minimum wage should be more
rapid than the rise of the national average wage, so that the minimum wage
reaches 41% of the national average wage in 2008. The agreement also
determined the formula and principles for calculating the minimum wage and
changed the basis of the minimum wage negotiations from tripartite to
bipartite. The last-named change was proposed by ETTK.
The results of various sociological surveys allow the public’s view of
trade unions and trade union issues to be mapped, at least in guideline
terms, from the start of the 1990s. The data used in this article is taken
from: regular annual surveys by the Institute (since 2001 the Centre) for
Public Opinion Research (Institut pro výzkum veřejného mínění, IVVM,
later Centrum pro výzkum veřejného mínění, CVVM ); research
organised by the Research Institute of Labour and Social Affairs, RILSA
(Výzkumný ústav práce a sociálních věcí, VÚPSV ) and the
Institute of Sociology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
(Sociologický ústav Akademie věd České republiky, SOÚ AV ČR ) in
2003; research conducted by Středisko empirických výzkumů (STEM ); and
information about similar research published in the specialist press.
Bulgaria is expected to join the European Union in 2007, and one of the areas
that is receiving considerable attention in the run-up is lifelong learning,
as promoted by the EU. This article examines the involvement of the social
partners in this area, as at late 2004, finding that they are involved in a
range of activities and bodies for increasing the adaptability, employability
and career development of workers, and in supporting the delivery of
appropriate education and training.
From January 2005, Belgian Railways (SNCB/NMBS) will split into two
subsidiaries, one responsible for transport operations and the other for
managing the infrastructure. In the run-up, trade unions are concerned about
the job losses and a deterioration of working conditions, while the
nomination of the directors of the new companies in late October 2004 proved