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In autumn 2001, Moulinex, the French-based electrical household appliance
manufacturer, filed for bankruptcy and was partially taken over by its
competitor, SEB, with the planned loss of 3,700 jobs. Workers responded by
occupying plants and adopting other hard-line tactics. The conflict ended
with the conclusion of an agreement on enhanced redundancy compensation for
the workers who will lose their jobs.
On 13 November 2001, the Hamburg regional organisation of the Unified Service
Sector Union (Vereinigte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft, ver.di) and the
Employers' Association for the Hamburg Retail Sector (Landesverband des
Hamburger Einzelhandels, LHE) concluded a new collective agreement  for
employees in call centres related to the retail sector. The agreement covers
all call centres which form part of LHE member companies, while external call
centres also have the option of applying the agreement. The deal is the first
collective agreement ever signed in retail call centres.
 http://www.verdi-hamburg.de/fachbereiche/fb12/Tarifvertrag Call-Center 01.doc
Fiom-Cgil, one of Italy's three main metalworkers' trade unions, called a
one-day general strike on 16 November 2001. It is seeking a referendum among
workers on the national collective agreement for metalworking which was
signed by other two unions, Fim-Cisl and Uilm-Uil, in July 2001, with the
reopening of negotiations if the agreement is rejected. Fim-Cisl and Uilm-Uil
reject this call and see Fiom-Cgil as being motivated mainly by political
On 20 November 2001, trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt announced
that the government would be proceeding with legislative proposals designed
to enable working parents with young children to seek flexible working
arrangements from their employer. In its response  to the report  of
the Work and Parents Taskforce, appointed in June 2001 and chaired by
Professor Sir George Bain (UK0107137N ), the government 'accepted' or
'accepted in principle' each of the Taskforce's recommendations on the
details of legislation to give parents of young children a right to request
flexible working and to have that request seriously considered by their
On 8 November 2001, the government's Employment Bill  was published and
given a formal first reading in the House of Commons. The draft legislation
seeks to implement a number of commitments made in the Labour Party's
election manifesto (UK0105132F ), as well as proposals which have been the
subject of recent consultation exercises (UK0108141N  and UK0108142N ).
The contents of the Bill are wide-ranging and include: extended parental
leave rights from April 2003; minimum standards for workplace
dispute-resolution procedures; changes in employment tribunal rules;
statutory rights for trade union 'learning representatives'; and powers to
make regulations to implement the 1999 EU Directive on fixed-term work
(UK0108141N ). The government also confirmed that, in response to concerns
expressed by trade unions and others during consultation, it would not be
proceeding with controversial proposals to charge applicants for bringing an
employment tribunal case.
In early November 2001, the main UK employers' organisation, the CBI, held
its annual conference in Birmingham. The conference was addressed by a range
of leading government figures including the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and
the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, as well as the general
secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), John Monks.
The process of economic 'globalisation' and increasing competition, along
with the European Union's deepening economic integration, means that the EU
is tending more and more to compare itself in many areas with the world's two
other largest economies - Japan and the USA. This process of comparison and
'benchmarking' is seen as particularly important in the light of the EU's
commitment, outlined at the March 2000 European Council summit in Lisbon
(EU0004241F ) to becoming 'the most competitive and dynamic
knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustained economic growth
with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion'.
In late October 2001, the Dutch telecommunications group, KPN , announced
plans to make 4,800 employees redundant. Following negotiations with trade
unions, in November the number of compulsory redundancies was cut to 2,800,
with 2,000 older employees to depart voluntarily. In return for the reduction
in the number of redundancies, KPN staff have accepted pay cuts.
In late November 2001, negotiations between the Italian government and trade
unions on the former's White Paper on the labour market broke down. The
reason was that the government intends to modify, for some group of workers,
the legal rules which provide for the statutory reinstatement of workers
dismissed illegally. The three main union confederations jointly called
two-hour general strikes on 5 and 7 December 2001.