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  • Article
    27 March 1997

    On 18 March, the Government submitted a reform package to Parliament
    addressing five civil service issues, among them the implementation of EC
    Directive on working time (93/104/EC) in the civil service and more flexible
    working time rules. Here we focus on the latter point. The new regulations
    are expected to be voted on by Parliament in time to take effect on 1 June
    1997.

  • Article
    27 March 1997

    On 3 March 1997 the UK's second largest general trade union, GMB, and the
    German chemical workers' union IG Chemie-Papier-Keramik signed a unique
    agreement on joint union membership. The agreement offers members of both
    organisations, when working in each other's countries, the same support and
    advice enjoyed by their own members.

  • Article
    27 March 1997

    At the beginning of 1997, the total privatisation of Telefónica, the largest
    Spanish telecommunications firm, was completed. The trade unions in the
    company, led by CCOO and UGT, have applied for a judicial review of this
    measure, demanding its suspension until the new regulatory framework for the
    sector is defined, and a public, universal and quality service is guaranteed
    in the area of telecommunications. The Supreme Court has agreed to consider
    the appeal but has not suspended the privatisation.

  • Article
    27 March 1997

    The shock announcement by French motor manufacturer Renault, on 28 February
    1997, of the closure of its plant at Vilvoorde, led to an unprecedented
    public display of condemnation among the political establishment of the
    European Union (EU). The closure of the plant, in the Belgian Prime
    Minister's constituency near Brussels, with the loss of 3,100 jobs, was
    apparently announced without prior consultation with worker representatives.
    The move was justified by Renault as being part of a wider reorganisation
    aimed at making savings of over FRF 825 million per year. The closure of the
    only Renault production site in Belgium is likely to lead a further 1,000
    redundancies among suppliers and subcontractors; jobs which, in the current
    economic climate in Belgium, are unlikely to be replaced in the near future.
    The announcement came as a particularly heavy blow to a workforce who had
    thought their jobs safe, having negotiated a major flexibility and investment
    package only four years previously. The plant is generally regarded as being
    highly productive and achieving high levels of quality. The decision by
    Renault to close this plant in July 1997 has been interpreted by many workers
    as a warning that even a willingness to accept more flexible working
    practices can in future no longer be regarded as a guarantee for job
    security. The predicament of the workers at Vilvoorde has led to an
    unprecedented display of worker solidarity, not only among employees at other
    Renault production sites in Europe, but also among workers in other troubled
    European industries.

  • Article
    27 March 1997

    At the end of February 1997 the education and employment minister, James
    Paice, was warning that "people ignore at their peril the value of investing
    in learning", arguing that too many employers still do not realise the value
    of investing in their employees. He went on to say that action should be
    taken immediately to drive up skill levels and standards to keep up with
    growing international competition. Employers were said to be a crucial part
    of this process but, it is "not how much you invest in training, its how you
    invest it". The Government thus backs the Investors in People (IIP) standard,
    as it shows that spending money on people is an investment and not a cost.

  • Article
    27 March 1997

    On 19 March 1997, Parliament passed a reform of the Arbeitszeitgesetz(AZG,
    Working Time Act) - see Record AT9702102F [1]. This necessitated minor
    changes to the Arbeitsruhegesetz(ARG, Leisure Time Act) which were also
    passed on 19 March. However, the parliamentary Labour and Social Affairs
    Committee, at the behest of the social partners, had introduced wording
    allowing more flexibility than hitherto in regard to Sunday work, causing a
    major public debate in its wake. In future it will be possible for the social
    partners to conclude collective agreements permitting exceptions from the
    general ban on Sunday work. They can only do so, the law states, if it is
    necessary in order to avoid economic disadvantage or to safeguard employment.
    As far as this is feasible, the collective agreement has to specify the
    activities to be permissible on Sundays and the time allowed for them. Until
    now it was not possible to grant specific exemptions from the ban on Sunday
    work except if the technology required continuous production. The Minister of
    Labour and Social Affairs could, however, permit a whole industry to work on
    Sundays.

    [1] www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/undefined-law-and-regulation/moves-towards-greater-working-time-flexibility

  • Article
    27 March 1997

    Legislative changes have been introduced affecting "atypical" work under the
    Contracts of Employment Act, the Study Leave Act and the Occupational Safety
    Act. The changes came into force at the beginning of February and they aim to
    bring the legal status of persons in such work closer to the status of
    persons under a regular employment contract.

  • Article
    27 March 1997

    The 1994 labour market reform led to a spectacular increase in part-time
    employment contracts, which had hardly been used in Spain before that time.
    This feature describes this development and points out the main
    characteristics of the workers employed under these contracts, who are mainly
    women.

  • Article
    27 March 1997

    On 5 March 1997 the European Commission issued a Memorandum on the
    interpretation of the 1977 Directive on business transfers (77/187/EEC) which
    aims to clarify certain aspects of the Directive. It also seeks to address
    the criticisms levied against the draft Directive to replace the 1977 text,
    launched by the Commission in 1994. The proposed draft sought to take into
    account the changed business environment following the implementation of the
    single market project.

  • Article
    27 March 1997

    Until recent years, largely due to the voluntary system of industrial
    relations in the UK, a universal national minimum wage has never been more
    than a passing thought. Instead, because of the growing awareness of poor
    working conditions and low wages, trade boards were established in 1909 in
    certain "sweated trades" to set minimum wages and standards. The areas and
    industries under the boards' coverage began to widen, so that by the time
    they became known as Wages Councils (WCs) in 1945 they covered some 4.5
    million workers. But from the 1960s, the WCs came under increasing criticism
    for three main reasons:

Series

  • European Restructuring Monitor

    The European Restructuring Monitor has reported on the employment impact of large-scale business restructuring since 2002. This series includes its restructuring-related databases (events, support instruments and legislation) as well as case studies and publications.

  • European Working Conditions Surveys

    The European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) launched in 1990 and is carried out every five years, with the latest edition in 2020. It provides an overview of trends in working conditions and quality of employment for the last 30 years. It covers issues such as employment status, working time duration and organisation, work organisation, learning and training, physical and psychosocial risk factors, health and safety, work–life balance, worker participation, earnings and financial security, work and health, and most recently also the future of work.

  • Challenges and prospects in the EU

    Eurofound’s Flagship report series 'Challenges and prospects in the EU' comprise research reports that contain the key results of multiannual research activities and incorporate findings from different related research projects. Flagship reports are the major output of each of Eurofound’s strategic areas of intervention and have as their objective to contribute to current policy debates.

  • COVID-19

    Eurofound’s work on COVID-19 examines the far-reaching socioeconomic implications of the pandemic across Europe as they continue to impact living and working conditions. A key element of the research is the e-survey, conducted in two rounds – in April and in July 2020. This is complemented by the inclusion of research into the ongoing effects of the pandemic in much of Eurofound’s other areas of work.

  • European Company Survey 2019

    Eurofound’s European Company Survey (ECS) maps and analyses company policies and practices which can have an impact on smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, as well as the development of social dialogue in companies. This series consists of outputs from the ECS 2019, the fourth edition of the survey. The survey was first carried out in 2004–2005 as the European Survey on Working Time and Work-Life Balance. 

  • Sectoral social dialogue

    Eurofound's representativness studies are designed to allow the European Commission to identify the ‘management and labour’ whom it must consult under article 154 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). This series consists of studies of the representativeness of employer and worker organisations in various sectors.

  • National social partners and policymaking

    This series reports on and updates latest information on the involvement of national social partners in policymaking. The series analyses the involvement of national social partners in the implementation of policy reforms within the framework of social dialogue practices, including their involvement in elaborating the National Reform Programmes (NRPs).

  • New forms of employment

    This series reports on the new forms of employment emerging across Europe that are driven by societal, economic and technological developments and are different from traditional standard or non-standard employment in a number of ways. This series explores what characterises these new employment forms and what implications they have for working conditions and the labour market.

  • European Company Surveys

    The European Company Survey (ECS) is carried out every four to five years since its inception in 2004–2005, with the latest edition in 2019. The survey is designed to provide information on workplace practices to develop and evaluate socioeconomic policy in the EU. It covers issues around work organisation, working time arrangements and work–life balance, flexibility, workplace innovation, employee involvement, human resource management, social dialogue, and most recently also skills use, skills strategies and digitalisation.

  • European Quality of Life Surveys

    The European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) is carried out every four to five years since its inception in 2003, with the latest edition in 2016. It examines both the objective circumstances of people's lives and how they feel about those circumstances and their lives in general. It covers issues around employment, income, education, housing, family, health and work–life balance. It also looks at subjective topics, such as people's levels of happiness and life satisfaction, and perceptions of the quality of society.

Forthcoming publications