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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.
November and December 2000 saw major strike action by bus drivers in
Barcelona, who were seeking more full weekends off. The dispute was settled
by an agreement that gives the drivers 13 full work-free weekends per year,
plus three additional days off.
The Confederation of Danish Trade Unions (Landsorganisationen i Danmark, LO)
is ready to discuss the inclusion of clauses on flexible working time
arrangements in a larger number of collective agreements. It believes that
considerations of family life and health should be better combined with
individual employees' wishes relating to when and how much they work. LO sees
flexibility as more or less a life-long process: young people may easily work
up to 50 hours per week - as is typically seen in the information technology
sector - and in return it should be possible for them to work fewer hours
when they have children and/or become older. It should be possible to deduct
the hours saved up during the early part of working life from weekly working
time when the need arises. Normal weekly hours should remain at 37.
In a report on occupational health and safety (/Bericht über den Stand von
Sicherheit und Gesundheit bei der Arbeit und über das Unfall- und
Berufskrankheitsgeschehen in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland im Jahr 1999/)
issued in December 2000, theMinistry of Labour has presented comprehensive
data on work-related accidents and occupational diseases in 1999. According
to a statement by Walter Riester, the Minister of Labour, the risk of
employees being injured or suffering from occupational diseases has never
been lower in the entire history of the Federal Republic of Germany.
At the beginning of January 2001, the Federal Employment Service
(Bundesanstalt für Arbeit, BfA) announced that about 1.85 billion paid
overtime hours were worked in Germany in 2000. Compared with the previous
year, this represented an increase of 61 million paid overtime hours, leading
to the highest number of annual overtime hours since 1995 - see table below.
On average, each German employee worked about 61 hours of paid overtime in
In December 2000, Belgium's bipartite Central Economic Council adopted a
framework opinion on the Belgian Presidency of the European Union during the
second half of 2001. The social partners set out five areas on which the
Belgian Presidency should concentrate its efforts.
Collective bargaining in Austria (AT9912207F ) is conducted at sectoral
level and is differentiated into a relatively large number of separate
agreements (eg for blue- and white-collar workers, or for industrial and
craft production). However, it is coordinated across the economy. This is
because a practice of "pattern bargaining" prevails, based on the leading
role of the metalworking industry in the overall bargaining process.
Traditionally, the collective agreements for the blue-collar workers and
white-collar workers in the metalworking industry are negotiated first, which
thus sets the pace for the other bargaining units in the course of the annual
bargaining rounds. In this respect, the "global" agreement (Globalrunde) for
white-collar workers in most parts of manufacturing follows suit. These
agreements set a guiding framework for negotiations in all remaining sectors,
including the public sector. The metalworking industry sets the pace for
routine bargaining, as well as the trend regarding basic priorities for
bargaining policy. This leading role rests on the close cooperation between
the blue-collar Metalworking and Textiles Union (Gewerkschaft Metall-Textil,
GMT), representing the highly unionised manual workers in the metalworking
industry, and the Union of Salaried Employees (Gewerkschaft der
Under current regulations, liberalised to some extent in recent years, shops
in Austria may open on weekdays until 19.30 and on Saturdays until 17.00.
Compared with other EU Member States, these rules are relatively strict.
However, they are not fully utilised by companies. Only slightly more than
one-third of companies operate the longer opening hours, with more than half
of these companies regarding the results as satisfactory. On the other hand,
the employees affected take the view that the changes caused by the
liberalisation measures have had a negative impact on their working
The coalition agreement of the current government of the populist Freedom
Party (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ) and the conservative People's
Party (Österreichische Volkspartei, ÖVP), which came to power in early 2000
(AT0002212F ), included a planned employment programme for people with
disabilities. Measures to implement the programme (known as
Behindertenmilliarde) were announced in late 2000.