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

13820 items found
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • "Social chapter" takes centre stage in the election run-up

    As the 1 May election date draws nearer, both the Conservative Government and the main opposition party, Labour, have begun to fight their campaigns by taking opposite stances on the social policy Agreement annexed to the Maastricht Treaty on European Union - the so-called "social chapter", from which the UK has "opted out". In February, the Government launched an attack, stating that if the Labour Party were to win the general election, its commitment to "signing up" to the social chapter would cost the UK 500,000 jobs.
  • Moves towards greater working time flexibility

    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Public sector pay policies

    Three independent pay review bodies were created more than 25 years ago in what has been described as an attempt "to remove a range of highly sensitive settlements from the political arena" (P Bassett, /The Times,/ 7 February 1997). They recommended pay increases for doctors and dentists, the most senior grades in the armed forces, the civil service and the judiciary, and for the rest of the armed forces. The pay review system assumed greater importance when it was extended to cover nearly 500,000 nurses, midwives and other health service professionals in 1983 and a similar number of schoolteachers in England and Wales in 1992. In both cases, the creation of pay review bodies followed lengthy disputes and a history of repeated failure of the negotiating machinery to produce agreement on pay settlements without frequent arbitration or periodic special enquiries.
  • A new wave of strikes in Greece

    The end of 1996 and the first two months of 1997 were marked by a wave of strikes that began last November and December, upsetting the relative industrial calm that had existed over recent years. The strikes peaked during January but continued throughout February, for at least certain groups of employees, though by then they had begun to peter out. The strikes represent basically a head-on clash with the Government's policy of austerity, and focus primarily on discontent with the tax system and a recently-passed tax law. This clash also acquired a political character, since the demands of workers across various sectors converged and merged within the wider context of discontent.
  • Railways' operating functions and network responsibilities to be split

    A new company, Réseau Ferré de France, has taken over the ownership and running of France's railways.

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