EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life

Topical updates

Topical updates summarise and update developments around selected topics, which are relevant across a number of Member States at the same time. They are mainly based on reporting from Eurofound’s network of European correspondents.

  • Approaches towards the labour market integration of refugees in the EU

    This article reviews the current debate among social partners and governments about how to integrate asylum seekers into the EU's workforce. While employers claim that refugees could help to address skill shortages, unions are concerned about the consequences for the working conditions of both the refugees and lower-paid segments of the existing workforce.

  • Turbulent times in air transport: Recent collective disputes and the ‘race to the bottom’

    Air transport has been in the news in recent months as strikes and difficulties in social dialogue across the European Union have strained relations between the sector’s unions and companies. Disputes in the different countries have revolved around pay and working conditions, restructuring and planned redundancies, collective agreement ‘cherry-picking’ and foot-dragging over entering into agreements.

  • Public sector is focus of industrial action

    Strike activity across the EU dropped in 2014 following a crisis-related peak in 2010. However, evidence from EurWORK correspondents suggests that the more highly unionised public sector has been a focus of industrial action recently. In general, strikes have been triggered by pay freezes and cuts, as well as by other unpopular effects of fiscal tightening such as lay-offs or changed working conditions.

  • A trend reversal in collective bargaining?

    Since the beginning of 2015 a number of major collective agreements at national, sectoral and cross-sectoral level have been renewed, renegotiated, or under discussion. Several of the examples presented here are from the countries that have been hit hardest during the crisis and/or in which collective bargaining has been most affected, such as Croatia, Ireland, Slovenia, Spain or Greece. It is too early to speak about a reversal of the trend in collective bargaining in general; however, some tentative optimism may be justified.

  • Public sector pay and collective bargaining: Pay restoration or new perspectives?

    This article presents some of the key developments and research findings on aspects of public sector pay and collective bargaining in the EU during the third quarter of 2015. Its main focus is a growing trend of restored pay levels in public sector agreements. It also deals with the broadening scope of such agreements and discusses evidence that some governments want to introduce more flexibility in pay-setting.

  • Reform of old age pension and retirement systems in the EU

    The need to reform pension systems is one of the key challenges for social policymakers in Europe. This article provides an update of how the EU 28 and Norway are tackling this issue in the face of demographic change, focusing in particular on the involvement of the social partners and governments.

  • Policies to improve work–life balance

    Collective bargaining has been crucial in developing recent initiatives on flexible working time in many countries, both at sectoral and at company level. Such agreements, together with some legislation, also cover working with ICT outside an employer’s premises (such as telework). This topical update singles out some original examples in companies in Europe.

  • Commission withdraws proposal to extend maternity leave, promising a fresh start – Developments at EU level – Q2 2015

    The Commission has decided to withdraw its draft Maternity Leave Directive, which has been stuck in the legislative process since 2008. This article describes key developments and explores some of the contradictions that were predicted in the Commission’s 2015 Work Programme and the Better Regulation Package.

  • Skills, learning and employability – Skills shortages and public policy responses - Q2 2014

    This article presents some of the most notable developments and research findings on skills, lifelong learning and employability in the EU during the second quarter of 2014. The European area of skills and qualifications, EU skill shortages, streamlining further education and reducing labour market friction are the main focus of the report.

  • Towards a new start for social dialogue? Collective employment relations – Q1 2015

    This article synopsises the development of European social dialogue and then discusses some ideas that might guide the European institutions and the social partners as social dialogue within in the EU is relaunched, such as more autonomy for the social partners, better links between EU and national level, and greater involvement of the social partners in the European Semester.