On 19 February, Arbio, the employers' association for the forestry industry,
sued the Swedish Paper Workers' Union before the Labour Court. Formally, the
parties are arguing over a sum of less than SEK 50, though in practice the
case concerns an unlimited amount of money. This is a test case, and the
question that the Court has to address is: how is the collective agreement on
sick pay for employees in the paper industry to be interpreted?
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.
At a special Social Dialogue Committee meeting held on 29 November 1996, the
European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), the Union of Industrial and
Employers' Confederations of Europe (UNICE), and the European Centre of
Enterprises with Public Participation (CEEP) adopted a joint contribution to
the /Confidence Pact for Action on Employment in Europe,/ in preparation for
the Dublin European Council summit held in December. In their statement, the
social partners express their deepest concern at the high level of
unemployment which continues to prevail across the EU, and criticise what
they perceive as a lack of coordination and implementation of a Europe-wide
strategy to combat the problem effectively. They pronounce themselves in
favour of Commission President Santer's proposal for a Confidence Pact, and
see their declaration as "a committed response to his proposals on the themes
of youth unemployment, lifelong learning, and better use of Structural Funds
for job creation, in a macroeconomic environment conducive to growth and
It is expected that the fate of the Forges de Clabecq steelworks will be
sealed on 15 June 1997. However, whatever the outcome of the recovery
operation by the Swiss-Italian industrial concern, Duferco, something will
have changed in this Belgian enterprise located some 15 miles from Brussels
in the province of Brabant. Beyond the event in itself - the closure of a
firm leading to the loss of 1,800 jobs - which has not itself been
exceptional over the last few months in Belgium, it is the style of activity
undertaken by the Forges de Clabecq union delegation  that has revealed a
new union climate.
The second part of the two-year National General Collective Agreement 1996-7
(EGSSE) came into force at the beginning of 1997. The principal purpose of
the EGSSE is to set minimum pay levels, which have a two-fold significance:
providing a framework for the social protection of unskilled workers and
acting as a guideline for negotiations at more specific levels - enterprise,
industry-wide or occupational. Whatever is agreed at the level of the EGSEE
covers, without exception, the whole of the private sector, as well as the
broader public sector (public administration is excluded). The wages of
public servants have until now been determined by the Government, but this
will have to change following Greece's ratification of International Labour
Organisation Conventions Nos. 151 and 154, which consolidate the right of
public servants to collective bargaining.
Nurses had threatened industrial action on 10 February 1997 in pursuit of a
claim for a major overhaul in their pay structures and an improved early
retirement scheme. However, the action was called off when the nurses
accepted an IEP 85 million formula drawn up by the Labour Court, which
includes the creation of a commission which will examine a range of issues
related to the nursing profession. Four trade unions representing over 26,000
nurses were involved in the dispute, the largest being the 16,000-strong
Irish Nurses Organisation (INO).
Judging from a recent exchange of letters between a Dutch trade unions and
the Department of Justice, it would appear that cross-border cooperation
between unions, let alone their international merger, is beset with legal
On 21 January 1997, the two French electricity and gas public utility
companies signed an agreement with three trade unions ( the CFDT, the CFTC
and the CFE-CGC). This agreement is designed to improve their competitiveness
and productivity while at the same time maintaining their workforce at
current levels. This is to be achieved mainly through the introduction of
part-time working. Both the CGT and the CGT-FO unions are strongly critical
of this agreement.
The Italian Government and social partners are currently implementing their
tripartite "Pact for Employment" (Patto per il Lavoro), which is intended to
promote employment and foster economic development in Italy through the
introduction of a wide and complex set of policies. The agreement, signed on
24 September 1996, is of the utmost political importance as it falls within
within the framework of the renened social concertation strategy that has
been pursued over the 1990s. The Pact earmarks a total amount of about ITL
15,000 billion for its implementation over the 1997-1999 period.
1997's collective bargaining in the private sector is concentrating on three
main issues: 100% wage compensation during maternity leave; further
negotiations over the pension scheme initiated in 1991; and a limited wage
increase to allow for inflation. The social partners in the different
bargaining areas are largely in agreement on the content of the new
collective agreements, but the central social partner organisations - the
Danish Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) and the Danish Employers'
Confederation (DA) - still cannot agree whether the new collective agreements
should be of two or three years' duration.
The European Restructuring Monitor (ERM) has reported on the employment impact of large-scale business restructuring since 2002. This publication series include the ERM reports, as well as blogs, articles and working papers on restructuring-related events in the EU27 and Norway.
Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) paints a wide-ranging picture of Europe at work across countries, occupations, sectors and age groups. This series consists of findings from the European Working Conditions Telephone Survey (EWCTS) 2021, an extraordinary edition conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey was first carried out in 1990.
This publication series gathers all overview reports on developments in working life, annual reviews in industrial relations and working conditions produced by Eurofound on the basis of national contributions from the Network of Eurofound Correspondents (NEC). Since 1997, these reports have provided overviews of the latest developments in industrial relations and working conditions across the EU and Norway. The series may include recent ad hoc articles written by members of the NEC.
Eurofound’s work on COVID-19 examines the far-reaching socioeconomic implications of the pandemic across Europe as they continue to impact living and working conditions. A key element of the research is the e-survey, launched in April 2020, with five rounds completed at different stages during 2020, 2021 and 2022. This is complemented by the inclusion of research into the ongoing effects of the pandemic in much of Eurofound’s other areas of work.
Eurofound's representativeness studies are designed to allow the European Commission to identify the ‘management and labour’ whom it must consult under article 154 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). This series consists of studies of the representativeness of employer and worker organisations in various sectors.
This series reports on developments in minimum wage rates across the EU, including how they are set and how they have developed over time in nominal and real terms. The series explores where there are statutory minimum wages or collectively agreed minimum wages in the Member States, as well as minimum wage coverage rates by gender.
The European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) launched in 1990 and is carried out every five years, with the latest edition in 2015. It provides an overview of trends in working conditions and quality of employment for the last 30 years. It covers issues such as employment status, working time duration and organisation, work organisation, learning and training, physical and psychosocial risk factors, health and safety, work–life balance, worker participation, earnings and financial security, work and health, and most recently also the future of work.
Eurofound’s Flagship report series 'Challenges and prospects in the EU' comprise research reports that contain the key results of multiannual research activities and incorporate findings from different related research projects. Flagship reports are the major output of each of Eurofound’s strategic areas of intervention and have as their objective to contribute to current policy debates.
Eurofound’s European Company Survey (ECS) maps and analyses company policies and practices which can have an impact on smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, as well as the development of social dialogue in companies. This series consists of outputs from the ECS 2019, the fourth edition of the survey. The survey was first carried out in 2004–2005 as the European Survey on Working Time and Work-Life Balance.
This series reports on and updates latest information on the involvement of national social partners in policymaking. The series analyses the involvement of national social partners in the implementation of policy reforms within the framework of social dialogue practices, including their involvement in elaborating the National Reform Programmes (NRPs).