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In January 2001, France's largest teachers' union organisation, the Unitary
Union Federation (FSU), held its third congress. It decided to set up an
"intersectoral unitary liaison committee", open to all trade unions, thus
demonstrating its resolve to seek a restructuring of the French union
In early 2001, the French government took the decision to introduce an
"employment bonus", subsidising the pay of workers on low wages - a form of
tax credit or "negative taxation" system. The social partners are divided
over the measure.
In January 2001, faced with an increase in attacks against them, French
cash-in-transit security guards staged a one-day strike aimed at speeding up
the process of implementing measures to boost security at work.
In February 2001, the Finnish Medical Association (SLL) issued a strike
warning for March, having failed to conclude a new collective agreement with
the Commission for Local Authority Employers (KT). SLL is seeking a 20% pay
increase and improved working conditions.
An informal Council of gender equality and social security ministers was held
on 21–23 January 2001 in Norrköping, under the current Swedish Presidency
of theCouncil of Ministers. In addition to ministers from the EU Member
States, ministers from the 13 countries applying to join the EU (Bulgaria,
Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta,
Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Turkey) were also present.
A European day of action was organised on 25 January 2001 by the European
Metalworkers' Federation (EMF) at all European plants of the US-based motor
manufacturer General Motors (GM). The action was taken in protest against the
decision announced in December 2000 by Vauxhall, GM's UK subsidiary, to end
car production at its UK plant in Luton (UK0012104F ).
The Minister of Labour, Ove Hygum, is currently considering how Denmark is to
implement the new EU Directive (2000/78/EC) of 27 November 2000 establishing
a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation 
(EU0010274F ) He would have preferred that the Directive - which prohibits
discrimination on grounds of of religion, belief, disability, age or sexual
orientation - were implemented by means of collective agreements, as is the
tradition in Denmark for the regulation of labour market conditions
(DK0001164F ). However, in this case supplementary legislation is
necessary if the prohibition of discrimination is to be 100% effective.
According to the WSI Collective Agreement Archive's recently published annual
report  on the 2000 collective bargaining round in Germany, trade unions
affiliated to the German Federation of Trade Unions (Deutscher
Gewerkschaftsbund, DGB) concluded new collective pay agreements for some 18.4
million employees during the year. Initially, the unions demanded total
increases of between 4% and 5.5%, including both pay rises and financial
contributions to new arrangements for partial and early retirement
(DE0003243N ). After the employers' associations sharply rejected these
demands, the majority of the new pay agreements provided for pay rises of
between 2% and 3% in 2000 - see table 1 below for details. Many of the
sectoral pay agreements run for two years and determine the pay rises in
2001, which will be between 2% and 2.5% under the majority of the agreements.
Stella, the German music corporation, recently decided to restructure its
theatre business and to move the performance of the musical "Cats" from
Hamburg to Stuttgart. In this context, the company negotiated a framework
agreement with the media workers' union Industriegewerkschaft Medien (IG
Medien), which guaranteed the pay and working conditions of those employees
who were to be transferred to other musicals. The agreement was accompanied
by a social plan  providing severance pay for the 90 or so employees who
were to lose their jobs. After both parties had apparently agreed on the
terms of the agreements, Stella asked for a period of grace before signing
the document. To the union's surprise, and shortly before this period had
expired, the company withdrew from the agreement. According to Sigrid
Schwarze, Stella's spokesperson, the company considered the agreement to be
just a non-binding draft version requiring further specification. The
company's move occurred shortly before "Cats" was due to be relocated to
For many years, Belgian trade unions have been seeking the establishment of
social dialogue structures in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs),
which are not covered by union representation or statutory employee
participation structures. The intersectoral agreement for 2001-2, signed in
December 2000, calls on sectoral negotiators to set up external structures to
enable social dialogue in SMEs (ie "pooled" dialogue structures for a number
of SMEs in a particular area). A recent report from the bipartite National
Labour Council examines existing experiments in such external regional
consultation in a number of sectors.