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The Irish government has finally acted to implement the EU Directive on
part-time work into national legislation, by publishing the necessary primary
legislation in December 2000. Council Directive 97/81/EC  of 15 December
1997 (EU9712175N ) implements the framework agreement on part-time work
concluded in June 1997 by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), the
Union of Industrial and Employers' Confederations of Europe (UNICE) and the
European Centre of Enterprises with Public Participation and of Enterprises
of General Economic Interest (CEEP) (EU9706131F ).
The Federation of National Education (FEN), one of France's largest teachers'
trade unions, held its 37th congress in December 2000. It decided to change
its name to UNSA-Education, to reflect its engagement in the National
Federation of Independent Unions (UNSA), and adopted a proposal for
In late 1999 and early 2000, some French employers' organisations have called
for a moratorium on the application of the recent 35-hour working week
legislation to firms with under 20 employees, currently planned for January
2002. The government, while willing to help small companies facing
difficulties, is opposed to such a move.
In December 2000, a number of French trade union and employers'
confederations signed an agreement on "health at the workplace". The accord
provides for longer periods between medical check-ups for employees, and a
greater role for trade unions in prevention policy.
On 22 January 2001, Finnish cargo ports were hit by a strike called by the
Finnish Transport Workers' Union (Auto- ja Kuljetusalan Työntekijäliitto,
AKT), in a dispute over redundancies among dockers at the Steveco port
operating company. After one day of strike action, a settlement was reached
through conciliation, whereby the pay of the redundant workers was guaranteed
for 12 months. In addition, AKT has agreed to sign up to the national incomes
policy agreement for the next two years.
In November 2000, four Finnish trade unions in the services sector merged to
form Service Unions United. With over 200,000 members, it is the country's
second-largest union after the Trade Union for the Municipal Sector.
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) set up a "committee for the
coordination of collective bargaining" at its ninth congress, held in
Helsinki in June-July 1999 (EU9907182F ). Since that time, the committee
has been working to develop strategies for the coordination of collective
bargaining at European level, and recently formulated a guideline on the
coordination of collective bargaining, which was discussed and endorsed
through a recommendation  at an ETUC executive committee meeting on
14–15 December 2000.
An extraordinary Employment and Social Policy Council of Ministers was
convened under the French Presidency on 20 December 200 in order to examine a
revised text of the draft Directive on the worker involvement provisions of
the European Company Statute. This development followed the consensus reached
on this issue at the Nice European Council summit of 7–11 December 2000
(EU0012288F ). Ministers duly reached the unanimous political agreement
 required to progress this draft Directive and the Regulation on the
company law aspects of the Statute, which will now be forwarded to the
European Parliament (EP) for an Opinion. The texts will subsequently be sent
back to the Council of Ministers for adoption – possibly at the Employment
and Social Policy Council scheduled for 6 March 2001 (the Council is not,
under the decision-making procedure to which the European Company Statute
instruments are subject, obliged to incorporate any of the amendments the EP
may make). The draft Directive and Regulation will come into force three
years after adoption. The draft Directive will require negotiations between
management and employee representatives in each European Company over the
worker involvement arrangements to be applied, with statutory reference
provisions applying where no agreement is reached. Full details will be
provided in a future EIRO feature.
The European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), theEuropean Mine,
Chemical and Energy Workers' Federation (EMCEF) and the electricity supply
employers' organisation Eurelectric agreed a joint declaration  on 27
November 2000, stating that the parties are aware of the social and
employment implications of the continuing process of opening up and
integrating European electricity markets. The declaration notes that a recent
study funded by the European Commission has shown that 250,000 jobs were lost
in the sector between 1990 and 1998, although it stresses that restructuring
took place in a "socially responsible way". However, the parties to the
declaration believe that restructuring is likely to continue, and that the
following key issues should be considered:
On 14 December 2000, civil servants all over Spain held a 24-hour strike in
protest against their loss of purchasing power, the increase in temporary
employment and the absence of collective bargaining in the civil service.