EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life

Articles

EurWORK articles cover working life in Europe, in particular the fields of industrial relations and working conditions. The articles are based on quarterly reporting provided by the Network of Eurofound Correspondents.

  • Topical updates summarise and update developments around selected topics, which are relevant across a number of Member States at the same time
  • Spotlight reports cover in more depth country-level events, debates and changes in regulation related to working life, aiming to provide a balanced view of all parties’ positions
  • Research in Focus articles report on important research findings (including surveys) from the national level, often, but not exclusively, in the area of working conditions
  • In brief articles are short news items drawn from the correspondents' quarterly reports
  • Country updates summarise developments at national level and are published 4 times a year

13815 items found
  • Metalworking collective agreement signed after nine months of negotiations

    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.
  • Working time moves to the top of the agenda

    The immediate catalyst for the current prominence of working time in UK industrial relations is the failure in November 1996 of the Government's attempt to have the EU Directive on certain aspects of the organisation of working time (Council Directive 93/104/EC of 23 November 1993) annulled by the European Court of Justice (ECJ). Steps are being taken to implement the Directive, though the present Conservative Government hopes to get the Directive "disapplied" if it wins the forthcoming general election. Also important, however, is the growing debate about the implications for the well-being of individuals and their families of the fact that UK's hours of work are long in comparison with other EU member states.
  • Low wages in a high-wage economy

    Compared to many other western industrialised countries, Germany has the image of being a high-wage economy with a relatively low inequality of incomes and living standards. This is mainly the result of the German system of branch-level central collective bargaining (Flächentarifvertrag), where almost all employees in any sector receive the same basic payment. Nevertheless, it is not widely known that there is still a large number of sectors and areas of employment where collectively-agreed basic wages and salaries are relatively low. This is the main finding of a recent study by the Institute for Economics and Social Science (Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftliches Institut,WSI) on low wages in Germany ("Niedriglöhne. Die unbekannte Realität: Armut trotz Arbeit", Gerd Pohl & Claus Schäfer (eds), VSA-Verlag Hamburg (1996)). The study was inspired by the European Commission which, in 1993, adopted an Opinion on an equitable wage, the main purpose of which was "to outline certain basic principles on equitable wages, while taking into account social and economic realities".
  • National conference on youth employment

    In a context of increasingly difficult youth employment in France, and of social tension about what course of action to take, a recent national conference has defined a number of concrete objectives. These seek to secure employment for the most disadvantaged, and to expose students to the world of work for the first time. These aims are based on a series of commitments on the part of industry, Government and the social partners - who remain at odds in their analysis - the effects of which must be monitored.
  • Employment and Labour Market Committee holds first meeting

    The Employment and Labour Market Committee (ELC), established by a Council Decision on 20 December 1996, held its inaugural meeting in Brussels on 29 January 1997. The ELC was created in response to a request by the European Council for the setting up of a stable structure to support the work of the Labour and Social Affairs Council in employment-related matters. This area has taken on a new dimension in the context of the" European employment strategy" outlined at the European Council in Essen in December 1994. The ELC is expected to improve the balance between employment, on the one hand, and economic and monetary issues, on the other hand, in the European debate. The new Committee will fulfil a similar role to that of the Economic Policy Committee which provides advice to the Economics and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN).
  • Apparent breakdown of Belgian central bargaining

    For the first time since 1960, the Belgian social partners have failed to reach an intersectoral pay agreement and have instead accepted government imposition of measures on employment and maximum pay increases. This development runs counter to all traditions of free collective bargaining and the autonomy of both sides of industry. It also appears to reinforce the trend towards sector-level bargaining, away from intersectoral or central-level bargaining, thereby widening the disparities between strong and weak sectors.
  • LO executive committee proposes new action programme

    The executive committee (sekretariatet) of the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (Landsorganisasjonen i Norge, or LO), the largest union confederation in Norway, has recommended a programme of action containing a set of policy principles for the period 1997-2001. The programme encompasses a wide variety of social and economic issues and is to be adopted at the confederation's congress on 10-16 May 1997 after a plenary debate.
  • Paper industry agreement reached after conciliation

    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.
  • Pressure mounts to protect standard employment relationship

    Some Portuguese sectors have been characterised by a widespread move away from standard, regular and permanent jobs towards temporary forms of employment, including irregular and casual work, homeworking and certain forms of self-employment. These developments are the result of an interplay between macroeconomic conditions, company strategy and labour legislation. However, pressure is mounting amongst the social partners to counter further fragmentation of standard employment statuses.
  • Road transport strike: consequences for industry and trade

    February 1997 saw a major strike in Spain's road transport sector. The dispute was well supported, mainly in the north of the country, but was called off without winning many concessions from the Government.

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