On 6 February 1997, theSwedish Paper Workers' Union and the Employers'
Federation of Swedish Forest Industries told the conciliators Lars-Gunnar
Albåge and Rune Larson that they accepted their proposal for a national
collective agreement on wages for 1997. There had been two stumbling blocks
in the negotiations: the trade union's claim for a reduction of annual
working time by 25 hours; and the employers' insistence on an agreement that
would run for at least two years. The outcome is an agreement on wages only,
that runs for one year, backdated to 1 January 1997.
At the end of 1996, the major trade unions and employers' associations signed
the Second National Agreement on Continuing Training (II Acuerdo Nacional de
Formación Continua), which was later endorsed by a tripartite agreement
between these organisations and the Government. The new agreements build on
certain basic aspects of the continuing training system in Spain that was
started in 1993, though they also introduce some important innovations.
This action, which came as a complete surprise to the 3,100 employees, is
part of the French-owned motor manufacturer's "new industrial strategy" of
concentrating production to cut its financial losses. Michel de Virville,
managing director of Renault, announced the closure adding that:
In accordance with its 1995 collective agreement, Akzo Nobel has evaluated
the effects of "working time differentiation" and more flexible working hours
on employment. Since the effects appear positive, a 36-hour week is expected
to be introduced by 1 July 1997.
Telecom Eireann's plan to introduce personal contracts for 300 of its
managers who report directly to senior executives must be seen in the context
of the company's effort to implement a major programme of change to meet the
requirements of EU-driven deregulation requirements. A Telecom redundancy
package was also reactivated recently, one of several in recent years, as the
company seeks to reduce costs. It is also to enter talks with the union
representing general workers in Telecom, the Communications Workers Union, on
a proposed IEP 110 million cost savings plan.
On 4 February, following a mediation proposal by the Government, the national
metalworking collective agreement was signed. Negotiations had lasted for
nine months and were marked by moments of breakdown and conflict which
resulted in strikes. The metalworking settlement, which covers some 1.5
million workers, is Italy's most important industry-wide agreement. It will
strongly influence both the forthcoming renewals of contracts in other
sectors and the evaluation of the July 1993 tripartite central agreement on
incomes policy and collective bargaining structure, planned for June 1997.
In January and February 1997, many French towns were hit by public transport
strikes, affecting bus, tram and underground rail services. The strikers'
demands differed somewhat from town to town but certain themes have been
common. such as: improvements in working conditions; better protection from
crime and delinquency, two consecutive days off in a week; and less taxing
route schedules. Strikers have also been demanding pay rises and a reduction
in the working week to 35 hours or less, with the recruitment of new
personnel to take up the slack. Demands for the right to retire with full
pensions at the age of 55, along with systematic replacement of retiring
employees by new recruitment, have also been frequently voiced.
The European Commission has recently published its report on progress made in
the implementation of equitable wage policies since 1993. The aim of
providing all employees with an equitable wage was enshrined in the Charter
of the Fundamental Social Rights of Workers, which was adopted by 11 member
states (with the exception of the UK) in 1989. In accordance with the 1989
social Action Programme, the Commission published an Opinion in 1993, which
stated that the pursuit of an equitable wage must be seen as part of the
general drive to achieve higher productivity and employment creation, and to
foster good relations between the two sides of industry. The member states
were encouraged to give substance to their commitment made in adopting the
Social Charter, by working towards the establishment of an equitable wages
policy. This was to be achieved through greater labour market transparency
with regard to wages. The social partners were also called upon to contribute
to the achievement of this aim.
In February, the Communication Workers' Union (CWU) launched a consultative
paper aimed at influencing the pre-election commitments of both the
Conservative Party and Labour Party. The union, which is firmly against
privatisation of the Post Office, has called for legislation to turn it into
an independent corporation, with the level of dividends pegged at 40% of
post-tax profits. The union feels that its proposals will have equal appeal
to all political parties because of the weight of public opinion opposing
The central social partners - the Austrian Trade Union Confederation
(Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund,ÖGB) and the Austrian Chamber of
Commerce (Wirtschaftskammer Österreich, WKÖ), the statutory body grouping
almost all nonagricultural enterprises - have for some time been discussing a
range of changes to the 1969 Working Time Law (Arbeitszeitgesetz, AZG). The
aim is to maintain competitiveness and employment by making possible a more
uneven distribution of working hours over time, without financial penalty to
the employer. This is expected to lead to higher productivity, better use of
plant, lower inventories, and a capability to respond more swiftly to
variations in demand. The trade unions also hope to achieve a reduction of
hours worked by individual employees in favour of more employment.
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, launched in April 2020, with five rounds completed at different stages during 2020, 2021 and 2022. This is complemented by the inclusion of research into the ongoing effects of the pandemic in much of Eurofound’s other areas of work.
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.
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.