In his statement to parliament (Deutscher Bundestag) on 14 March 2003 about
the government's Agenda 2010 programme of economic and social policy reforms
(DE0303105F ), Chancellor Gerhard Schröder announced his intention to
relax rules governing craft workers’ qualifications. Subsequently, on 28
May 2003, the cabinet decided to make it easier to establish businesses in
the craft industries. The current legislation, the Craft Trades Directive,
stipulates that a 'master’s' certificate is the prerequisite for
establishing or taking over a business in the craft sector. Currently,
businesses in 94 craft industries have to be led by a qualified 'master'
Over recent years, the Minister of Economy and Labour Affairs, Martin
Bartenstein, has made several unsuccessful attempts to liberalise further the
current regulations on shop opening hours, which were most recently amended
in 1997 but are still seen as relatively restrictive (AT0101239N ). Any
such extension of opening hours and working time was opposed by both the
social partners and the political parties in parliament, except the
conservative People’s Party (Österreichische Volkspartei, ÖVP)
(AT0107221N ). However, in spring 2003, the coalition government of the
ÖVP and the populist Freedom Party (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ)
reached agreement on further deregulation of the shop opening legislation.
On 12 June 2003, the delegates at a special conference held in Glasgow by the
Fire Brigades’ Union (FBU) voted three to one in favour of accepting a
revised pay deal agreed between the local authority employers and union
negotiators. The following day, the pay agreement  was formally approved
by the National Joint Council for Local Authorities’ Fire Brigades (NJC),
bringing to an end the long-running pay dispute within the UK fire service.
On 25 June 2003, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) published a
report report  urging the government to protect the right of UK employees
to work more than 48 hours a week if they choose to.
 http://www.cbi.org.uk/ndbs/press.nsf/0363c1f07c6ca12a8025671c00381cc7/a25d7307dd360bf880256d4f002e09d0/$FILE/Working Time Report.pdf
On 7 June 2003, the German Metalworkers' Union (Industriegewerkschaft Metall,
IG Metall) and the employers' association for the German steel industry
(Arbeitgeberverband Stahl) agreed on the phasing-in of a 35-hour working week
in the eastern German steel industry by 2009. Collectively agreed working
time in the eastern steel industry is currently 38 hours a week, while a
35-hour week applies in the sector in western Germany. The new framework
agreement on employment conditions  (Manteltarifvertrag) now provides for
a step-by-step reduction in standard working time as follows:
The reduction of working time has become a central bargaining demand for
Hungarian trade unions at national level in recent years. In Hungary, regular
working time is regulated virtually solely by the Labour Code, as its
reduction is rarely an issue for sectoral or company-level collective
agreements. The 40-hour statutory working week has not changed since 1992,
though a minor decrease in annual working time took place in the 1990s owing
to the introduction of new public holidays. Although the 2002 election
programme of the Hungarian Socialist Party (Magyar Szocialista Párt,MSZP
), now the major party in the coalition government, made promises
concerning the reduction of working time (HU0206101F ), until now the
government has not acted on this issue.
According to Latvian labour law, the minimum wage paid may not be lower than
the minimum set by the government. The national minimum wage is not linked to
any economically-based income indicator, with the cabinet determining the
minimum wage for 'normal-time' employees and the minimum hourly rate on the
basis of fiscal and social considerations. From a very low level - EUR 3.48
in 1992 (1 LVL currently equals 0.661 EUR) - the monthly minimum wage has
increased to EUR 105.9 in 2003. The government: raised the minimum wage twice
in 1992 (to EUR 5.07 and EUR 11.35); doubled it in 1993 (to EUR 22.70);
raised it twice in 1994 (to EUR 34.04 and EUR 42.36); increased it in 1996
(to EUR 57.49), 1998 (to EUR 63.54), 1999 (to EUR 75.64) and 2001 (to EUR
90.77); and set it at EUR 105.9 from 1 January 2003.
A recent statement from the managing director of the Association of Employers
in the Danish Building Industry (Dansk Byggeri) has angered trade unions
represented in the building industry, the General Workers' Union
(Specialarbejderforbundet i Danmark, SiD) and the Union of Wood, Industrial
and Building Workers (Forbundet Træ-Industri-Byg, TIB). He stated that it
would be a sign of bad management and leadership if Danish building industry
employers did not take advantage of the opportunity to employ workers from
Poland and the Baltic states after they join the European Union in 1 May
2004. Such workers could be hired at the lowest wage laid down in the
relevant collective agreement without any difficulty. Normally Danish workers
are paid close to the double the sector's minimum wage of DKK 94 per hour
because of local agreements and acquired bonus entitlements. Hiring a central
or eastern European worker on the lowest possible wage might breach the
spirit of the wage development agreed in collective bargaining, but would not
be against any collectively agreed or legislative provision. The employers
also state that Danish workers on a building site will not be able to demand
that new recruits from eastern Europe be paid at the same rate as them.
On 20 June 2003, Ireland’s 270 public health doctors, represented by the
Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), returned to work after a 10-week strike
over a demand for concrete proposals from their employers in relation to
improved pay, status, and terms and conditions of employment (IE0305203F
). During this time, the dispute became increasingly bitter, as the
parties’ positions remained polarised. However, the dispute has now been
resolved by a 'return to work formula' accepted by IMO and the Health Service
Employers Agency (HSEA). This formula is based on a complex set of proposals
brokered by the Labour Relations Commission (LRC), under which pay increases
due under the local pay bargaining clauses of previous national agreements
and the implementation of the Brennan Review of public health (this review
was established to examine the future of public health structures, and its
report was published in April 2002), were referred to the Public Service
This report seeks to address the question whether the structure of business
finance in continental Europe is likely to converge towards the model
observed in the UK and US economies where financial intermediaries,
especially banks, play a much smaller role in the allocation of savings to
productive investment purposes.
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, launched in April 2020, with five rounds completed at different stages during 2020, 2021 and 2022. This is complemented by the inclusion of research into the ongoing effects of the pandemic in much of Eurofound’s other areas of work.
Eurofound's representativeness 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.
This series reports on developments in minimum wage rates across the EU, including how they are set and how they have developed over time in nominal and real terms. The series explores where there are statutory minimum wages or collectively agreed minimum wages in the Member States, as well as minimum wage coverage rates by gender.
The European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) launched in 1990 and is carried out every five years, with the latest edition in 2015. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Automation and digitisation technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), are undergoing a rapid evolution. This impacts working conditions in a variety of ways and raises a host of new ethical concerns. In recent times, the policy debate surrounding these concerns has become more prominent and has increasingly focused on AI. Key EU policy developments, especially in relation to AI, have shaped the policy debate in many EU Member States, and in some instances they have led to the adoption of new policy initiatives that address these concerns in the context of work and employment.
Every year, Eurofound compiles a report summarising the key developments in minimum wages across EU countries. The report explains how minimum wages are set and describes the role of social partners, covering the evolution of statutory rates, collectively agreed wages and the national debates on these issues.
As part of a process to collect information on essential services, the European Commission (DG EMPL) requested Eurofound to provide input on certain aspects of existing and planned measures in the Member States to improve access to essential services, in reference to Principle 20 of the European Pillar of Social Rights. The scope of the exercise included energy services, public transport and digital communications, and the focus was on people at risk of poverty or social exclusion (in practice, people on low incomes in most cases).
The civil aviation sector has been deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is one of the most severe crises the sector has ever experienced, giving rise to a number of significant challenges for companies and workers alike. This study will explore the role of social dialogue and collective bargaining in how the sector is adapting to the pandemic. What kinds of changes have been introduced, either through social dialogue or collective bargaining? Are the changes temporary or permanent?
This report investigates the practical implementation of the European Works Council (EWC) Directive at company level. It explores the challenges faced by existing EWCs and provides examples of identified solutions and remaining issues from the point of view of both workers and management. The report looks at the way that EWCs meet the requirements of the EWC Directive in terms of establishing processes of information and consultation.
This report will map the existing regulations on telework in European Union Member States, including in legislation and collective agreements. It will present the most recent changes to these regulations and shed light on how the future of (tele)work could be regulated at both national and EU level, in order to improve working conditions in telework arrangements and reduce the risks associated with telework and with specific ways of working remotely.
This report explores the association between skills use and skills strategies and establishment performance, and how other workplace practices, in terms of work organisation, human resources management and employee involvement, can impact on this. It looks at how skills shortages can be addressed, at least in part, by creating an environment in which employees are facilitated and motivated to make better use of the skills they already have. This further supports the business case for a more holistic approach to management.
The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have varied across sectors, occupations and categories of worker (for instance, according to gender, age or employment status). Hours worked have declined the most in sectors such as accommodation services and food and beverage services, and in occupations heavily reliant on in-person interaction, such as sales work. At the same time, it’s in these sectors that labour shortages have become increasingly evident as labour markets have begun to normalise.
This report focuses on trends and developments in collective bargaining that were evident from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. It examines potential new strategic approaches and priorities incorporated in negotiation agendas, as well as collective bargaining practices and coordination at sector and company levels in the private sector.
This policy brief will provide an update on upward convergence in the economic, social and institutional dimensions of the European Union, as outlined in the European Pillar of Social Rights and its accompanying Social Scoreboard.