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  • Social partners take stand on EU enlargement

    In April 2001, all Finland's main social partners submitted to the Prime Minister a statement concerning enlargement of the EU. They call for the transition period for the introduction of free movement of labour within the enlarged EU to be flexible. The statement also stresses that Finnish terms of employment must be applied to employees from candidate countries who work in Finland, and that free movementr of labour should not mean importing cheap foreign labour.
  • New global workers' rights deals

    The first few months of 2001 have seen a number of new "global agreements" on workers' rights and related issues agreed by Europe-based multinational companies and international trade union organisations.
  • Rail workers stage international day of action in support of rail safety

    On 29 March 2001, an international day of action [1] in the rail sector, coordinated by the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) was supported by rail workers in 40 countries worldwide. The action placed a special focus on joint cross-border activities in international train stations, with the participation of unions from a number of countries. Actions ranged from a letter-writing campaign in Australia to demonstrations in Bangladesh and Namibia, leafleting of passengers in Japan and Russia, marches in South Africa, strike action in Italy and France, and commemorative tree-planting in the UK. [1]
  • Temporary agency work talks extended

    The central European-level social partners – the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), the Union of Industrial and Employers' Confederations of Europe (UNICE)/European Association of Craft and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (UEAPME) and the European Centre of Enterprises with Public Participation and of Enterprises of General Economic Interest (CEEP) – launched negotiations over a European-level agreement on temporary agency work in May 2000 (EU0005245N [1]). This was the third and final subject to be discussed by the social partners under the umbrella of the European Commission's original 1995 social partner consultation on the broad issue of "atypical work". This consultation has so far yielded the 1997 agreement on part-time work [2] (EU9706131F [3]) and the 1999 agreement on fixed-term contracts [4] (EU9901147F [5]), both of which were subsequently implemented by EU Directives. However, the temporary agency work talks broke down at the end of March 2001 (EU0104206N [6]), when it became clear that employers and unions could not agree on a number of key issues of regulation - namely the conditions of recourse to temporary agency work and equal treatment between temporary agency workers and user company employees. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]
  • Strike in Catalonia and Basque Country against industrial accident rate

    On 27 April 2001, Spain's CC.OO and UGT trade union confederations organised a day of mobilisation against industrial accidents and occupational illnesses, including a one-hour general strike in Catalonia and the Basque Country.
  • Nordsten employees receive pay increases until plant closure

    At a staff meeting in January 2001, the management of the P Nordsten A/S plant at Skive, Jutland announced that the firm's owner, Kongskilde Industries, would be closing the factory and moving production of agricultural machinery to Poland on 31 March 2003. Management offered the employees a wage compensation scheme in the two-year period up until their redundancy, with a view to ensuring an orderly closure process. This wage compensation was also intended automatically to suspend the annual pay bargaining rounds at the company. At the end of February, the director of P Nordsten A/S and three employee representatives signed a local wage agreement introducing the compensation scheme for two years, whereafter the local agreement will expire without further notice. During this two-year period, all employees are free to seek new jobs.
  • Ver.di and Randstad agreed on pay increases

    On 24 April 2001, the newly-created Unified Service Sector Union (Vereinigte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft, ver.di) (DE0104220F [1]) concluded an agreement with the temporary employment agency Randstad Deutschland GmbH on pay increases for about 21,000 of the latter's employees working in various companies. The agreement provides that: [1]
  • Historic agreement on working time cuts in private healthcare blocked

    Some 13,000 employees of Belgian not-for-profit private healthcare institutions demonstrated in Brussels on 24 April 2001 to demand the application of a collective agreement that would implement an accord reached on 1 March 2000 between the federal government and the sector's social partners. The March 2000 deal, which was called historic at the time of signature, is now blocked over the section relating to the reduction of working hours for employees aged over 45 years.
  • Industrial relations in the agricultural sector

    Understood in the broad sense (ie agriculture, hunting, forestry, and fishing), the agricultural sector had 45,191 employees in 1999, which represented about 1.6% of Austria's total number of employees. The sector's employment structure is characterised by: an above-average share of blue-collar workers (80% compared with 48% for the whole Austrian economy), a below-average share of female employment (34%, compared with 45% for the whole economy); and a notable proportion of seasonal labour (47% of the sector's employees).
  • Chamber of the Economy takes further reform steps

    In August 2000, the new political leadership of the Chamber of the Economy (Wirtschaftskammer Österreichs, WKÖ) presented an initiative for substantial reform of the Chamber - Austria's main employers' organisation, with membership compulsory for companies (AT0009230F [1]). The key goal of the initiative has been to reduce membership dues by about 30%. Such significant reductions presuppose sustainable efforts to economise on resources, which in turn require thoroughgoing restructuring. After continued internal debates on the concrete means to implement this ambitious programme, the WKÖ's leadership reached an agreement which was formally ratified by a special assembly on 27 April 2001. [1]