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

13845 items found
  • Controversial agreement in information technology sector

    The principal collective agreement in the Dutch information technology and office equipment sector, concluded in April 1997 between the employers' organisation and one of the trade unions, has been criticised by the other unions and four large software and service companies
  • Commission to bring infringement proceedings against three member states

    Padraig Flynn, the commissioner responsible for employment, industrial relations and social affairs, announced on 3 April 1997 that the Commission is to take infringement proceedings against three member states for their failure to apply certain Community legislation in the social field. Reasoned opinions outlining the Commission's view are to be sent to France, Italy and Greece. The details of the cases are as follows:
  • Negotiations on retirement age equality postponed

    Government plans to amend Finnish legislation to bring it into line with EU equality law have recently proved controversial with the Finnish Confederation of Salaried Employees (STTK). Following negotiations, further discussion of the issue has been postponed to autumn 1997.
  • Labour cost reductions pose new challenges to industrial relations in banking

    Over the past few months, the Governor of the Bank of Italy, Antonio Fazio, and the Abi banking employers' association have urged the Government to start negotiations with employers' associations and trade unions in order to deal with the problems linked to the low profitability of the Italian banking sector. High labour costs and redundancy are the main themes of debate. On 8 April 1997, a first meeting took place between an Abi delegation and a ministerial group, which represented the official opening of negotiations that will also involve the trade unions in the near future.
  • Union election result shocks leadership

    Ireland's largest trade union, the Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU), has a new president after a closer than expected ballot of its 180,000 members. The tight result - announced in early April 1997 - surprised the union's leadership, given the fact that a left-wing activist polled almost 42% of the votes cast compared with the 56% who voted for former vice-president, Jimmy Somers.
  • Social responsibility of companies tops the political agenda

    With 270,000 persons either on early retirement, unemployed or otherwise excluded from the labour market, theSocial Democrat-led Government is anxious to involve the social partners in producing workable alternatives for job creation for these groups of workers, rather than simply paying lip-service to the idea. In the 1995 collective bargaining round, the social partners were invited to elaborate on social clauses in their collective agreements. Accordingly, 90% of the bargaining units in the are covered by the LO trade union confederation and DA employers' confederation agreed on what have become known as "Social Chapters", which contain framework provisions on job creation on special terms of employment - ie, content of work, working hours and pay - to be negotiated and elaborated upon at local and company level. Similarly, the bargaining parties in government employment agreed on Social Chapters in their 1995 collective agreements. Employees in local government at regional and municipal level were also covered by a framework agreement negotiated in May 1996.
  • First annual report on equal opportunities published

    The European Commission adopted its first annual report on equal opportunities between men and women in the European Union at its meeting on 5 March 1997. The report: outlines the embodiment of equality principles in European Union policies; examines gender differences in the EU labour market; looks at Community actions to improve the interaction between work and family life; explores initiatives to aimed at achieving a greater involvement of women in decision-making bodies; outlines initiatives aimed a enabling women to exercise their rights; and provides an update on the recommendations of the 1995 Beijing Conference. Commenting on the publication of the report, commissioner for social affairs Padraig Flynn said that this was the first in what will be a series of annual reports covering the Union's policies on equal opportunities as a whole. Commissioner Flynn stated that the aim of the report was to give visible expression to EU policies on equal opportunities between men and women, to encourage debate on the progress achieved and policies to develop, and to act as a reference point for the Commission, member states and countries applying for membership of the Union.
  • Proposal for reform of the welfare state

    On 5 March 1997, the Italian Prime Minister, Romano Prodi, informed the political parties and social partners about the report drawn up by the "Commission for macroeconomic compatibility of social expenditure", a committee of experts established by the Government and chaired by Professor Paolo Onofri. The proposals for reform deal with all the key elements of public spending: healthcare, public assistance, and, of particular interest for the industrial relations system, pensions and labour market policies. This document drew critical reactions from the trade union confederations, while the evaluation from the Confindustria employers' confederation was fairly positive.
  • Employers dissatisfied with regulations on social plans

    Under the terms of the Works Constitution Act [1] (Betriebsverfassungsgesetz, §§ 111f), a procedure known as "reconcilement of interests [2]" (Interessenausgleich) aims at reconciling the positions of the employer and the workforce in case of a proposed substantial alteration of the establishment, or of bankruptcy. This involves weighing the respective interests against one another, as well as reaching an agreement on the procedure of change and the necessary human resource planning. Detailed arrangements for the subsequent implementation of the changes are then subject to the co-determination rights of the works council [3]. In cases where the employer makes no attempt to arrive at an agreed reconcilement of interests, or without compelling reasons fails to abide by one, employees who are dismissed or suffer economic disadvantage as a result may claim compensation for the loss of their job. A social plan [4] (Sozialplan) is a programme drawn up in the form of a special works agreement [5] (Betriebsvereinbarung) between the employer and the works council, and resembles a special form of redundancy programme. It contains the compensation packages and the human resource policies available to the employees affected by the changes. There is no obligation to draw up a social plan, provided that: the proposed alteration to the establishment consists solely of dismissals; certain maximum limits in terms of a percentage of the total workforce are not exceeded; or the case involves a newly formed enterprise. [1] www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/efemiredictionary/works-constitution-0 [2] www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/efemiredictionary/reconcilement-of-interests [3] www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/efemiredictionary/co-determination-rights-of-the-works-council [4] www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/efemiredictionary/social-plan [5] www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/efemiredictionary/works-agreement-0
  • Government seeks to regulate illegal immigration and employment

    The phenomenon of illegal immigration in Greece has taken on an ever more serious dimension. According to evidence from the Ministry of Public Order the number of foreign workers without a work permit is now around 400,000, and is expected to increase still further owing to the recent crises in Albania and Bulgaria. The main countries of origin are Albania, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania, as well as countries in Asia and Africa. However, there are also around 30,000 additional foreign nationals who originate from EU member states, and obtain a special written permit from the Ministry of Labour.

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