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

13721 items found
  • More flexibility in Sunday working

    On 19 March 1997, Parliament passed a reform of the Arbeitszeitgesetz(AZG, Working Time Act) - see Record AT9702102F [1]. This necessitated minor changes to the Arbeitsruhegesetz(ARG, Leisure Time Act) which were also passed on 19 March. However, the parliamentary Labour and Social Affairs Committee, at the behest of the social partners, had introduced wording allowing more flexibility than hitherto in regard to Sunday work, causing a major public debate in its wake. In future it will be possible for the social partners to conclude collective agreements permitting exceptions from the general ban on Sunday work. They can only do so, the law states, if it is necessary in order to avoid economic disadvantage or to safeguard employment. As far as this is feasible, the collective agreement has to specify the activities to be permissible on Sundays and the time allowed for them. Until now it was not possible to grant specific exemptions from the ban on Sunday work except if the technology required continuous production. The Minister of Labour and Social Affairs could, however, permit a whole industry to work on Sundays. [1] www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/undefined-law-and-regulation/moves-towards-greater-working-time-flexibility
  • Miners' revolt ends in "corporatist" compromise

    The cause of the industrial unrest was the announcement by the ruling Conservative-Liberal coalition Government that it was planning to scale back annual subsidies for the - basically west - German hard coal (Steinkohle) industry dramatically. During the ensuing protests, Germany saw a human chain of more than 90 kilometres straight through the Ruhr coal heartland, and sympathy demonstrations from east German brown coal miners. Miners in the Ruhr and the Saar areas went on strike. Tens of thousands of miners took to the streets, occupied pits and town halls, and blocked roads as well as the Bonn headquarters of Chancellor Helmut Kohl's ruling Christian Democratic Party (CDU) and its coalition partner, the Free Democrat Party (FDP). In the days before the compromise, the protests of the rank and file seemed to get out of control of the miners' union, IG Bergbau und Energie (IGBE), and its chair, Hans Berger. For the first time in German post-war history, furious miners even entered the restricted area surrounding government buildings in Bonn where no public meetings or marches may be held. As an "act of solidarity with miners fighting for their existence" the Social Democratic Party (SPD) temporarily boycotted a meeting in which opposition and coalition politicians were discussing the reform of the German tax system. When the miners laid siege to Bonn, Chancellor Kohl temporarily put off talks with the union leaders to avoid having to negotiate under duress.
  • Working time experiments introduced in 20 municipalities

    The Ministry of Labour has chosen 20 municipalities in different parts of Finland to participate in new forms of working time organisation on an experimental basis. Results so far have been favourable.
  • Commission launches second stage of consultations on sexual harassment

    On 19 March 1997, the European Commission launched the second stage of consultations with the social partners under the Maastricht Agreement on social policy on the proposal for an EU policy to counter sexual harassment at work. At this second stage, the social partners will be able to choose whether to go down the route of negotiation - leading to a framework agreement which can be given legal validity at the EU level. The alternative would be to submit their views in anticipation of a policy initiative emanating from the Commission.
  • New collective agreement for hospitals

    At the end of February 1997, the social partners in Luxembourg's hospital sector concluded a new collective agreement in a "cooperative" atmosphere. The deal provides for pay increases and a reduction and reorganisation of working hours for 5,000 employees.
  • Bill on combating exclusion under discussion.

    On 26 February 1997, the French Cabinet adopted a bill aiming at rebuilding social cohesion, which is to be debated in the National Assembly some time in April 1997.
  • Postal workers strike

    In an ongoing industrial dispute, trade unions have accused the public sector corporation, EPI (the Italian Postal Organisation), of not respecting collective agreements and commitments on employment.
  • Unions oppose privatisation of Telefónica

    At the beginning of 1997, the total privatisation of Telefónica, the largest Spanish telecommunications firm, was completed. The trade unions in the company, led by CCOO and UGT, have applied for a judicial review of this measure, demanding its suspension until the new regulatory framework for the sector is defined, and a public, universal and quality service is guaranteed in the area of telecommunications. The Supreme Court has agreed to consider the appeal but has not suspended the privatisation.
  • New single-status deal for council workers

    On 10 March, after 11 hours of talks, a "historic deal" was reached for public sector council workers. The agreement, covering 1.5 million workers, will harmonise conditions for manual worker s and white collar worker s in local government for the first time.
  • Courts play an increasing role in supervising mass redundancies

    After a legal battle lasting more than three years between the management of La Samaritaine (one of the five large Paris department stores), and its works council and CGT union branch, two rulings by the highest court in the French legal system on 13 February 1997, imposed the reinstatement of staff made redundant, as part of the cancellation of a corporate "downsizing" procedure (plan social). These rulings reveal the growing role of judges in the supervision of redundancies.

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