The announcement by the French auto manufacturer, Renault, of the closure of
its plant with a workforce of 3,100 in Vilvorde in the Flanders region of
Belgium, has caused a wave of indignation throughout Europe. The closure is
part of a European restructuring project which also includes the axing of
2,800 jobs in France. The response by the unions, of an unusually rapid and
massive nature, took the form of strikes in all the group's European plants,
and a series of joint demonstrations.
All industrial relations activities in Spain have been at a standstill in
early 1997, pending the conclusion of negotiations between trade unions and
employers' organisations on labour market reform. However, initial agreements
have been reached on types of employment contract and on dismissal
The issue of the use of national and European subsidies to support employment
in a particular country, region or sector, has come under the spotlight in
recent weeks in the context of the controversy which has arisen from
Renault's announcement of the closure of its factory at Vilvoorde in Belgium
(see Record EU9703108F ). Renault's request for subsidies to expand its
operations in Spain was blocked by European competition policy commissioner,
Karel Van Miert, in order to investigate whether EU funding was being used to
transfer employment to a region offering lower wage and social costs.
The UK has been the main recipient of Toyota's European investment so far, at
its plant in Derby. If the UK were to lose the new investment to France, it
would be a huge blow to the Government which recently had to "rebuild some
fences" after the company announced in February 1997 that it might switch its
investment elsewhere in Europe if the UK did not join the single European
Wage bargaining in the private sector commenced on 10 March 1997 with
negotiations between the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) and
theConfederation of Norwegian Business and Industry (NHO). So far the
question of voluntary early retirement has been the most difficult issue and,
after around one week, LO broke off the negotiations. Mediation was due to
commence the first week after the Easter holidays.
On 20 February 1997, Parliament adopted a law establishing retirement savings
funds. This legislation has a dual objective. Firstly, to provide private
sector employees with a new retirement cover financed by capitalisation, and
secondly, to strengthen the Paris financial market and balance the growing
power of foreign institutional investors.
It is expected that the fate of the Forges de Clabecq steelworks will be
sealed on 15 June 1997. However, whatever the outcome of the recovery
operation by the Swiss-Italian industrial concern, Duferco, something will
have changed in this Belgian enterprise located some 15 miles from Brussels
in the province of Brabant. Beyond the event in itself - the closure of a
firm leading to the loss of 1,800 jobs - which has not itself been
exceptional over the last few months in Belgium, it is the style of activity
undertaken by the Forges de Clabecq union delegation  that has revealed a
new union climate.
The second part of the two-year National General Collective Agreement 1996-7
(EGSSE) came into force at the beginning of 1997. The principal purpose of
the EGSSE is to set minimum pay levels, which have a two-fold significance:
providing a framework for the social protection of unskilled workers and
acting as a guideline for negotiations at more specific levels - enterprise,
industry-wide or occupational. Whatever is agreed at the level of the EGSEE
covers, without exception, the whole of the private sector, as well as the
broader public sector (public administration is excluded). The wages of
public servants have until now been determined by the Government, but this
will have to change following Greece's ratification of International Labour
Organisation Conventions Nos. 151 and 154, which consolidate the right of
public servants to collective bargaining.
Nurses had threatened industrial action on 10 February 1997 in pursuit of a
claim for a major overhaul in their pay structures and an improved early
retirement scheme. However, the action was called off when the nurses
accepted an IEP 85 million formula drawn up by the Labour Court, which
includes the creation of a commission which will examine a range of issues
related to the nursing profession. Four trade unions representing over 26,000
nurses were involved in the dispute, the largest being the 16,000-strong
Irish Nurses Organisation (INO).
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.
The fifth round of Eurofound's e-survey, fielded from 25 March to 2 May 2022, sheds light on the social and economic situation of people across Europe two years after COVID-19 was first detected on the European continent. It also explores the reality of living in a new era of uncertainty caused by the war in Ukraine, inflation, and rising energy prices.
This report will map the existing regulations on telework in European Union Member States, including in legislation and collective agreements. It will present the most recent changes to these regulations and shed light on how the future of (tele)work could be regulated at both national and EU level, in order to improve working conditions in telework arrangements and reduce the risks associated with telework and with specific ways of working remotely.
As part of a process to collect information on essential services, the European Commission (DG EMPL) requested Eurofound to provide input on certain aspects of existing and planned measures in the Member States to improve access to essential services, in reference to Principle 20 of the European Pillar of Social Rights. The scope of the exercise included energy services, public transport and digital communications, and the focus was on people at risk of poverty or social exclusion (in practice, people on low incomes in most cases).
The civil aviation sector has been deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is one of the most severe crises the sector has ever experienced, giving rise to a number of significant challenges for companies and workers alike. This study will explore the role of social dialogue and collective bargaining in how the sector is adapting to the pandemic. What kinds of changes have been introduced, either through social dialogue or collective bargaining? Are the changes temporary or permanent?
This report explores the association between skills use and skills strategies and establishment performance, and how other workplace practices, in terms of work organisation, human resources management and employee involvement, can impact on this. It looks at how skills shortages can be addressed, at least in part, by creating an environment in which employees are facilitated and motivated to make better use of the skills they already have. This further supports the business case for a more holistic approach to management.
This report focuses on trends and developments in collective bargaining that were evident from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. It examines potential new strategic approaches and priorities incorporated in negotiation agendas, as well as collective bargaining practices and coordination at sector and company levels in the private sector.
This policy brief will provide an update on upward convergence in the economic, social and institutional dimensions of the European Union, as outlined in the European Pillar of Social Rights and its accompanying Social Scoreboard.
Between 2021 and 2023 Eurofound is carrying out a pilot project on minimum wage on behalf of the European Commission. The question of how minimum wages and other forms of pay can be fixed for the self-employed is investigated as a part of this project through mapping national and sectoral approaches. Out of concern for the challenging conditions that the self-employed face, some Member States have established or are discussing establishing statutory forms of minimum pay for certain categories of self-employed.
This study provides information allowing for an assessment of the representativeness of the actors involved in the European sectoral social dialogue committee for the electricity sector. Their relative representativeness legitimises their right to be consulted, their role and effective participation in the European sectoral social dialogue and their capacity to negotiate agreements. The aim of this Eurofound study on representativeness is to identify the relevant national and European social partner organisations in the electricity sector in the EU Member States.
This study provides information allowing for an assessment of the representativeness of the actors involved in the European sectoral social dialogue committee for the gas sector. Their relative representativeness legitimises their right to be consulted, their role and effective participation in the European sectoral social dialogue and their capacity to negotiate agreements. The aim of this Eurofound’s study on representativeness is to identify the relevant national and European social partner organisations in the gas sector in the EU Member States.