Judging from a recent exchange of letters between a Dutch trade unions and
the Department of Justice, it would appear that cross-border cooperation
between unions, let alone their international merger, is beset with legal
It is expected that the fate of the Forges de Clabecq steelworks will be
sealed on 15 June 1997. However, whatever the outcome of the recovery
operation by the Swiss-Italian industrial concern, Duferco, something will
have changed in this Belgian enterprise located some 15 miles from Brussels
in the province of Brabant. Beyond the event in itself - the closure of a
firm leading to the loss of 1,800 jobs - which has not itself been
exceptional over the last few months in Belgium, it is the style of activity
undertaken by the Forges de Clabecq union delegation  that has revealed a
new union climate.
The second part of the two-year National General Collective Agreement 1996-7
(EGSSE) came into force at the beginning of 1997. The principal purpose of
the EGSSE is to set minimum pay levels, which have a two-fold significance:
providing a framework for the social protection of unskilled workers and
acting as a guideline for negotiations at more specific levels - enterprise,
industry-wide or occupational. Whatever is agreed at the level of the EGSEE
covers, without exception, the whole of the private sector, as well as the
broader public sector (public administration is excluded). The wages of
public servants have until now been determined by the Government, but this
will have to change following Greece's ratification of International Labour
Organisation Conventions Nos. 151 and 154, which consolidate the right of
public servants to collective bargaining.
Nurses had threatened industrial action on 10 February 1997 in pursuit of a
claim for a major overhaul in their pay structures and an improved early
retirement scheme. However, the action was called off when the nurses
accepted an IEP 85 million formula drawn up by the Labour Court, which
includes the creation of a commission which will examine a range of issues
related to the nursing profession. Four trade unions representing over 26,000
nurses were involved in the dispute, the largest being the 16,000-strong
Irish Nurses Organisation (INO).
On 21 January 1997, the two French electricity and gas public utility
companies signed an agreement with three trade unions ( the CFDT, the CFTC
and the CFE-CGC). This agreement is designed to improve their competitiveness
and productivity while at the same time maintaining their workforce at
current levels. This is to be achieved mainly through the introduction of
part-time working. Both the CGT and the CGT-FO unions are strongly critical
of this agreement.
The Italian Government and social partners are currently implementing their
tripartite "Pact for Employment" (Patto per il Lavoro), which is intended to
promote employment and foster economic development in Italy through the
introduction of a wide and complex set of policies. The agreement, signed on
24 September 1996, is of the utmost political importance as it falls within
within the framework of the renened social concertation strategy that has
been pursued over the 1990s. The Pact earmarks a total amount of about ITL
15,000 billion for its implementation over the 1997-1999 period.
1997's collective bargaining in the private sector is concentrating on three
main issues: 100% wage compensation during maternity leave; further
negotiations over the pension scheme initiated in 1991; and a limited wage
increase to allow for inflation. The social partners in the different
bargaining areas are largely in agreement on the content of the new
collective agreements, but the central social partner organisations - the
Danish Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) and the Danish Employers'
Confederation (DA) - still cannot agree whether the new collective agreements
should be of two or three years' duration.
On 6 February 1997, theSwedish Paper Workers' Union and the Employers'
Federation of Swedish Forest Industries told the conciliators Lars-Gunnar
Albåge and Rune Larson that they accepted their proposal for a national
collective agreement on wages for 1997. There had been two stumbling blocks
in the negotiations: the trade union's claim for a reduction of annual
working time by 25 hours; and the employers' insistence on an agreement that
would run for at least two years. The outcome is an agreement on wages only,
that runs for one year, backdated to 1 January 1997.
At the end of 1996, the major trade unions and employers' associations signed
the Second National Agreement on Continuing Training (II Acuerdo Nacional de
Formación Continua), which was later endorsed by a tripartite agreement
between these organisations and the Government. The new agreements build on
certain basic aspects of the continuing training system in Spain that was
started in 1993, though they also introduce some important innovations.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) launched its campaign to put workers' rights
at the centre of the general election on 14 February 1997. The campaign,
which will cost GBP 1 million, includes newspaper and cinema ads, billboards
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Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) paints a wide-ranging picture of Europe at work across countries, occupations, sectors and age groups. This series consists of findings from the EWCS 2001, which was an extension of the EWCS 2000 to cover the then 12 acceding and candidate countries. The survey was first carried out in 1990.
Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) paints a wide-ranging picture of Europe at work across countries, occupations, sectors and age groups. This series consists of findings from the EWCS 2000, the third edition of the survey. The survey was first carried out in 1990.
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 first edition of the survey carried out in 2004–2005 under the name European Establishment Survey on Working Time and Work-Life Balance.
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