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After almost two years of bargaining, an agreement on non-discrimination on
grounds of age and the employment of older people in the financial
intermediation sector was reached in France by the relevant social partners
on 9 July 2008. Some 35% of employees in banks are aged 50 years and over.
This agreement comes under the national multi-industry agreement on the
employment of older people, which was concluded on 13 October 2005 and signed
on 9 March 2006 (*FR0512104F* )*.*
In early 2008, the Centre for Population, Poverty and Socioeconomic Policy
Studies (Centre d’Études de Populations, de Pauvreté et de Politiques
Socio-Economiques/International Networks for Studies in Technology,
Environment, Alternatives, Development, CEPS/INSTEAD ) carried out a study
(in French, 895Kb PDF)  assessing companies’ attitudes to and
implementation of corporate social responsibility  (CSR) practices.
The global financial crisis has had a considerable impact on the Czech
Republic’s automobile industry – the pride of and the driving force
behind the Czech economy for the past 15 years, comprising 23% of Czech
industrial production and exports. For example, the company Škoda Auto
(Škoda Auto a.s. ) has repeatedly announced production stoppages and
reported a decline in profit for the past three quarters, ranging between CZK
250 million (about €9.4 million as at 18 December 2008) and CZK 8.66
billion (€326.5 million).
On 25–26 September 2008, an international ministerial conference entitled
/From the shortage of job opportunities to the shortage of qualified labour
force/ was held in Slovakia’s capital city, Bratislava. The conference was
organised by the Slovakian Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family
(Ministerstvo práce, sociálnych vecí a rodiny Slovenskej republiky, MPSVR
SR ) under the auspices of the Prime Minister of Slovakia, Robert Fico,
with the financial support of the Equal Community Initiative  as part of
the European Social Fund . Funds were made available in the framework of
the International Organization for Migration (IOM ) project. The
conference was also held under the auspices of the Slovakian Ministry of
Foreign Affairs (Ministerstvo zahraničných vecí Slovenskej republiky, MZV
SR ), supported by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development (OECD ).
Trade union representatives demanded an increase in the minimum wage from SKK
8,100 (€269 as at 18 December 2008) to SKK 8,900 (€295.40) a month. The
unions argued that the difference between the existing minimum wage level and
the level of social benefits was so small that it did not motivate people to
work. However, employers refused to accept the trade unions’ demand.
According to the National Union of Employers (Republiková únia
zamestnávateľov, RÚZ SR ), such a minimum wage level would be higher
than the performance of the Slovakian economy actually allows.
On 17 April 2008, the Latvian Cabinet of Ministers (Latvijas Republikas
Ministru kabinets, MK ) approved the Health and Safety Guidelines for
2008–2013, drafted by the Ministry of Welfare (Labklājības ministrija, LM
). The latter is responsible for implementing the guidelines, and MK’s
order sets out four steps in their realisation. A programme for
implementation of the guidelines must be presented to MK in two steps: by 1
June 2008 for the period 2008–2010, and by 1 April 2011 for the period
2011–2013. Reports on the progress of implementation are to be presented to
MK in a further two steps: by 1 July 2011 for the first period, and by 1 July
2014 for the second period. To support the reports, two studies of working
conditions and risks at work in Latvia will be carried out in 2010 and 2013.
On 14 October 2008, the Spanish Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez
Zapatero, and the President of the main opposition People’s Party (Partido
Popular, PP ), Mariano Rajoy, agreed to start negotiations on the Toledo
Pact – a report on the future reform of Spain’s social security system,
agreed by the most representative social partner and political organisations
and the government (*ES0106244F* ). A central aim of the discussions is to
progress towards a more sustainable public pension system.
The social partners concluded a central agreement, known as the
Saltsjöbadsavtalet , in 1938. Its aim was to give the labour market
parties the right to regulate the rules, rather than relying on state
regulations. The central agreement and collective agreements are a
fundamental part of the Swedish labour market model. Although the
Saltsjöbadsavtalet is still valid, it has been amended several times, most
recently in 1976. Since then, factors such as EU membership, globalisation
and the decline in trade union membership (*SE0806029I* ) have affected
labour market conditions.
In the past, the division of labour was absolute: women ruled the house and
men ruled the labour market. However, in the 1960s this picture began to
change. Women entered the labour market and the traditional male
‘breadwinner’ model changed to a dual earner model. This evolution was
distinctive in Denmark; in 1996, only 1% of mothers were full-time
The Trades Union Congress (TUC ) released an analysis  of UK
unemployment figures on 12 November 2008. Overall, it noted that the national
unemployment rate was 5.8% at the end of September 2008, which represented a
0.4% increase on a quarterly basis and an 11.1% increase on a year-on-year
basis. Nevertheless, the national employment rate is calculated to be 74.4%,
which is above the European Union’s target of an overall employment rate of