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In January 2001, Spain's National High Court supported the right of trade
unions to use the internet for union communications in companies. The CC.OO
had taken legal action against the BBVA bank for hindering the exercise of
trade union rights through the internet.
A new study among members of the General Workers' Union (Specialarbejderne i
Danmark, SiD), published in February 2001, indicates that a third of members
are working longer than the standard 37 hours per week fixed by collective
agreement - see the table below. Notably, the members of the SiD transport
section - including export drivers - have a working time of about 48 hours
per week. Of all members surveyed, 8% work more than 48 hours per week. The
study was carried out on behalf of SiD by the Centre for Labour Market
Research at Aalborg University (Center for arbejdsmarkedsforskning at Aalborg
Universitet, CARMA) and Dansk Markedsanalyse (DMA Research). SiD is the
second-largest trade union in Denmark, with about 317,000 members.
On 14 February 2001, the cabinet of the German federal government adopted a
draft bill  on reform of the Works Constitution  Act
(Betriebsverfassungsgesetz, BetrVG) - the law which determines the legal
framework for co-determination at the level of the establishment  in the
private sector, through works council  s. The government's bill will now
pass through the legislative process, and it is planned that parliament will
adopt the new BetrVG before summer 2001, so that the next works council
elections in spring 2002 may be held under the provisions of the new Act.
According to figures released in early 2001, total membership of the unions
affiliated to the German Federation of Trade Unions (Deutscher
Gewerkschaftsbund, DGB) sank to 7.77 million in 2000, a decline of 264,000
compared with 1999. While the pace of the decline has slowed - membership
fell by 274,000 from 1998 to 1999 - unions are troubled by the fact that
total membership has fallen below the level prior to German unification in
1990. As the table below indicates, some public sector unions such as the
Education and Science Union (Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft, GEW)
and the Police Union (Gewerkschaft der Polizei, GdP) have successfully
limited membership decline while the Construction, Agriculture and
Environment Union (Industriegewerkschaft Bauen-Agrar-Umwelt, IG BAU) in
particular has experienced a rapid loss of membership.
The "Copernicus plan" for the reform of Belgium's federal civil service,
which is one of the government's priorities, is giving rise to considerable
tension among civil servants in early 2001. On 13 February, some 10,000 civil
servants demonstrated in Brussels to protest against the plan, while
negotiations with the trade unions were deadlocked and further action was
scheduled for March.
On 17 January 2001, the bargaining parties in banking signed a new collective
agreement on pay. Unlike some other European countries, collective bargaining
in the Austrian banking sector takes place exclusively at the industry level,
with no single-employer settlements. The negotiations over the 2001 deal
occurred in a context of an outstandingly good financial situation in the
sector, and three rounds of bargaining were needed to find a compromise.
In this annual update, we review developments in the length of working time across the European Union (plus Norway) in 1999 and 2000. We find that average collectively agreed weekly working time stood at 38.1 hours in 2000, down half an hour from 1999, with much of the reduction due to the introduction of the 35-hour week in France. Agreed weekly hours are between 37 and 39 hours in 14 of the countries examined. In sectoral terms, agreed weekly hours are highest in chemicals, followed by retail and the civil service. Paid annual leave entitlement averages nearly 26 days.
In this annual update, we examine a number of industrial relations and employment statistics for 1999 and 2000 from a gender-differentiated perspective. We find, for example, that on average across the EU and Norway: women's earnings are around 79% of men's; full-time male workers work longer weekly hours than their female equivalents, while part-time hours are almost the same for men and women; women's employment rate is lower than men's, but their unemployment rate is higher; union density is higher among men than women, who make up a minority of union members; and women are much more likely than men to work part time, while temporary and fixed-term work is shared more equally between women and men.
Teleworking is a fast growing employment practice in the UK (TN9811201S ).
Recent research by the Institute of Employment Studies (cited in /IRS
Employment Trends/ 711, September 2000) shows that the number of people
working from home in the UK for at least one day a week in their main job,
using a computer and a phone link to keep in touch with their employer or
client, rose from 1.2 million to 1.5 million (5.5% of UK employees) in the
year to spring 2000. Moreover, if people who use a computer and a
telecommunications link to work from home but are not dependent on this
technology are included, the figure would increase to 1.8 million or 7% of UK
employees. The sector that has recorded the strongest growth in teleworking
is financial services which has seen a 34% increase, while the fastest
expanding teleworking occupation is management, with a 24% leap in the number
of managers working from home.
As requested by the government, the independent Low Pay Commission (LPC) is
continuing to monitor and evaluate the impact of the national minimum wage
(NMW) and will be making recommendations on whether it should be increased,
in a report due by July 2001 (UK0007182N ). On 31 January 2001, the Trades
Union Congress (TUC) presented evidence to the LPC. This follows evidence
given during November and December 2000 by the government, the Confederation
of British Industry and the Engineering Employers Federation (UK0101108N