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In late October 2001, the Italian metalworkers trade unions and the
management of Electrolux Zanussi signed an innovative agreement on the
company's 'mobile plant' initiative - whereby it will move around Europe its
entire production operation for clothes dryers. From 2002, production of
dryers will be moved from Nuremberg, Germany to Porcia, Italy, where it will
remain until 2005, when a new location decision will be taken. The agreement
lays down the employment and training conditions for workers recruited at the
Porcia plant, and gives trade unions an input into the decision on where to
locate the operation after 2005.
Ireland has recently introduced a two-part approach to dealing with the issue
of worker representation and union recognition. The provisions are based on
an agreement on the recognition issue reached in 1999 by the Irish Congress
of Trade Unions (ICTU) and the Irish Business and Employers Confederation
(IBEC), which aimed to maintain the essentially 'voluntarist' nature of the
Irish industrial relations system (IE9903135F ).
Euro notes and coins will go into public circulation from 1 January 2002, as
12 EU Member States change over to the single currency and abolish their
existing currencies. Special lump-sum payments for extra duties arising from
the changeover to the euro have been agreed by two Irish security firms, as
well as by at least two retail banks and the two state-owned bus companies.
However, claims by trade unions in respect of the euro changeover have been
criticised by the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC). It
remains to be seen if the several deals agreed by early December 2001 will
spur further claims.
On 16 November 2001, the Food and Restaurant Workers' Union (Gewerkschaft
Nahrung-Genuss-Gaststätten, NGG) and the Employers' Association for the Soft
Drinks Industry (Wirtschaftsvereinigung Alkoholfreie Getränkeindustrie,
WAFG) concluded new collective agreements for about 18,000 employees in the
German soft drinks industry, which includes well-known companies such as
Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola.
In November 2001, a new pay agreement was concluded between the Salaried
Employees' Union (Tjänstemannaförbundet HTF, HTF) and the Swedish Service
Employers' Association (Tjänsteföretagens Arbetsgivarförbund) for about
20,000 salaried employees of temporary work agencies. About 1,000
professional employees belonging to the Swedish Confederation of Professional
Associations (Sveriges Akademikers Centralorganisation, SACO) are included in
the deal, alongside 19,000 members of HTF. In the whole temporary agency work
sector, there are about 30,000 employees.
In November 2001, following months of negotiations, a social security reform
agreement was signed by the Portuguese social partners and government.
Changes to the calculation formula for pensions and a provision allowing
employees to invest their pension contributions, above a certain ceiling, in
private schemes, are the main points of the agreement and were the most
difficult to negotiate. Despite the fact that the CIP industrial employers'
organisation has not signed the agreement and the CGTP trade union
confederation has not signed the annex on contributions to private schemes,
the accord will mean significant changes to the social protection system.
Almeida, Ana Isabel; Cristovam, Maria LuisaEurWORK
In November 2001, in the course of the customary 'autumn consultation'
between Dutch employers, trade unions and government, the union federations
announced their intention to adopt a moderate approach during forthcoming
collective bargaining. They are also prepared to accept more sector-specific
In November 2001, French police trade unions organised a series of
demonstrations calling for more resources, jobs, pay and respect, and
highlighting increasing crime levels . In the run-up to the presidential and
general elections in spring 2002, the dispute has assumed a clearly political
character around the issue of public safety, a theme that is high on the
agenda for the coming elections.
Over 2000 and 2001, French trade unions and politicians have been examining
the controversial issue of trade union funding arrangements. Following a
meeting between the five representative union confederations and the Minister
of Employment and Solidarity in November 2001, the government will take some
limited initiatives in this area, such as clarifying unions' tax status.
In November 2001, the Finnish social partners, pension institutions and
government agreed a set of pension and unemployment insurance reforms. On
pensions, it remains unclear whether entitlement will in future be calculated
on the basis of a person's last 10 years of employment or their whole career.
Unemployment benefits will be increased or cut depending on the age and work
history of the employee.