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The recession affecting Portuguese companies from 1991 to 1994 showed that
the difficulties faced by the country stemmed not just from economic
circumstances. Rather, the roots were far more complex and called for
structural changes to competitive factors involving the very fabric of
business and a general remodelling of managerial capacity, vocational
qualifications and financial structure.
Under the terms of a new bill, announced in April 1997, employees in the
Netherlands will be entitled to benefits if they interrupt their careers for
care or study leave, on condition that the employer hires an unemployed
person for the same period
In Greece, temporary work, especially in the form of fixed-term contracts,
constitutes a policy widespread amongst enterprises in both private and
public sectors. Although the phenomenon of temporary work has decreased
considerably in comparison with the early 1990s, when its incidence was twice
that of the EU average (18% and 9% respectively), it is still quite high
(10.5% and 11% respectively). A factor contributing to this decrease was the
decision of the Government in the course of 1990 to dismiss 50,000 temporary
public employees as part of its attempt to rationalise the functioning of the
Two separate committees - a group of professors appointed by the Government
and a committee of economists from the Finnish social partners - published
reports in early May 1997 on the industrial relations implications of EU
Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) for Finland The social partners themselves
have adopted a joint declaration on EMU membership.
On 22 May 1997, a new employment alliance for eastern Germany was concluded
between the German Federal Government, the German Trade Union Federation
(DGB), the German Salaried Employees' Union (DAG), the Confederation of
German Employers' Associations (BDA), the Confederation of German Industries
(BDI), the German Association of Chambers of Commerce (DIHT), the Central
Association of German Crafts (ZDH) and the Associations of the Credit
Institutions (Kreditgewerbe). Its primary objectives are to: speed up the
transformation process of the eastern German economy; boost growth; reduce
unit labour costs; stabilise employment in 1997 at the level of 1996; and
create 100,000 new jobs in each of the following years.
In its recently published opinion on the conclusion of the Intergovernmental
Conference (IGC), the Union of Industrial and Employers' Confederations of
Europe (UNICE) underlines the need for the negotiating parties to "place a
strengthening of Europe's competitiveness at the heart of the (new) Treaty,
since promotion of competitiveness is the sine qua non to increase
employment". The promotion of employment can, according to UNICE, never be
treated in isolation. While European employers have repeatedly pronounced
themselves in favour of the Essen employment strategy, they are keen to
underline that responsibility for employment policy must continue to lie
primarily with the member states.
One of Ireland's smallest banks, the Ulster Bank, is seeking to replace its
incremental-based pay system with a new performance-related reward scheme for
most of its 1,000 staff in the Republic of Ireland. The bank's proposals have
been resisted by members of the banking union, the Irish Bank Officials
Association (IBOA). They have, however, been accepted by its staff in
Northern Ireland who are part of the British industrial relations system.
On 22 April 1997 the European Court of Justice (ECJ) issued a judgment
stating that some provisions of the German Civil Law (Bürgerliches
Gesetzbuch,BGB) as well as the German Labour Court Law
(Arbeitsgerichtsgesetz, ArbGG) offend against the "Council Directive on the
implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women as
regards access to employment, vocational training and promotion and working
conditions" (76/207/EEC). The Directive which was adopted by the Council of
Ministers on 9 February 1976 proclaimed that the Member States shall put into
effect the "principle of equal treatment" (§ 1) which means "that there
shall be no discrimination whatsoever on grounds of sex either directly or
indirectly" (§ 2).
The negotiating teams representing the Union of Industrial and Employers'
Confederations of Europe (UNICE), the European Trade Union Confederation
(ETUC) and the European Centre of Enterprises with Public Participation and
of Enterprises of General Economic Interest (CEEP) reached a draft framework
agreement on part-time work in the evening of 14 May 1997.