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

13694 items found
  • Wage bargaining begins in the private sector

    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.
  • Dispute over unsocial hours bonus in "7-Eleven" shops ends up in the Labour court

    On 13 March 1997, Handelsanställdas förbund (Commercial Employees' Union) sued the company behind the 7-Eleven chain of shops for SEK 1 million compensation for breach of the collective agreement. The agreement in question is in fact a combination of two, which were agreed last summer in an attempt to settle a dispute concerning the unsocial hours bonus.
  • The Renault case and the future of Social Europe

    The shock announcement by French motor manufacturer Renault, on 28 February 1997, of the closure of its plant at Vilvoorde, led to an unprecedented public display of condemnation among the political establishment of the European Union (EU). The closure of the plant, in the Belgian Prime Minister's constituency near Brussels, with the loss of 3,100 jobs, was apparently announced without prior consultation with worker representatives. The move was justified by Renault as being part of a wider reorganisation aimed at making savings of over FRF 825 million per year. The closure of the only Renault production site in Belgium is likely to lead a further 1,000 redundancies among suppliers and subcontractors; jobs which, in the current economic climate in Belgium, are unlikely to be replaced in the near future. The announcement came as a particularly heavy blow to a workforce who had thought their jobs safe, having negotiated a major flexibility and investment package only four years previously. The plant is generally regarded as being highly productive and achieving high levels of quality. The decision by Renault to close this plant in July 1997 has been interpreted by many workers as a warning that even a willingness to accept more flexible working practices can in future no longer be regarded as a guarantee for job security. The predicament of the workers at Vilvoorde has led to an unprecedented display of worker solidarity, not only among employees at other Renault production sites in Europe, but also among workers in other troubled European industries.
  • Joint union membership for German and UK workers

    On 3 March 1997 the UK's second largest general trade union, GMB, and the German chemical workers' union IG Chemie-Papier-Keramik signed a unique agreement on joint union membership. The agreement offers members of both organisations, when working in each other's countries, the same support and advice enjoyed by their own members.
  • Civil service strike

    Following a strike call issued by French public service trade unions, a national day of action comprising strikes and demonstrations took place on 6 March.
  • A National Minimum Wage: Who, what and why?

    Until recent years, largely due to the voluntary system of industrial relations in the UK, a universal national minimum wage has never been more than a passing thought. Instead, because of the growing awareness of poor working conditions and low wages, trade boards were established in 1909 in certain "sweated trades" to set minimum wages and standards. The areas and industries under the boards' coverage began to widen, so that by the time they became known as Wages Councils (WCs) in 1945 they covered some 4.5 million workers. But from the 1960s, the WCs came under increasing criticism for three main reasons:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • European Central Banks trade unions meet in Portugal

    A working group set up by the Standing Committee of the European Central Banks' Trade Unions met in Ferreira do Zêzere in March, and issued a declaration relating to the rights of workers involved in the production and circulation of the Euro.
  • The legal position of foreign nationals

    On 13 March, after long debate between ministries, trade unions, and provincial governments, the national Government submitted a reform package covering the Arbeitslosenversicherungsgesetz(Unemployment Insurance Act), the Fremdengesetz(Aliens Act), the Aufenthaltsgesetz(Residence Act), the Ausländerbeschäftigungsgesetz(Aliens Employment Act), and the Asylgesetz(Asylum Act). The aim is to homogenise the laws, to reduce immigration to an absolute minimum compatible with human rights and the Geneva Convention on the Rights of Refugees, and to improve the integration of the resident foreign population. The reform package is now open to public debate, and will be submitted to Parliament before the summer. Changes are intended to take effect as of 1 January 1998.

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