An Intergovernmental Conference is the method used by the Member States of
the European Union (EU) to agree on basic changes to the Treaties which
govern the workings of the Union. Changes to the Treaties are not carried out
within the framework of the EU itself, but by direct negotiations between the
governments of the Member States within the context of the IGC. The current
IGC is the sixth in the history of European integration.
In the Netherlands, there has been a long struggle over how responsibilities
for administering social security should be divided between social partners
and the government. The Dutch social security administration has been
reorganised - most recently from March 1997 - under pressure of criticism
about organisations in which the social partners play a dominant role.
Financing the social security system has become a structural problem in the
relations between the Government and the social partners. This has become
especially manifest in conflicts concerning the level at which social
security contributions should be set.
As part of the European Year against Racism, a collective agreement signed in
the temporary work sector in Belgium has laid down a "Code of Best Practice"
on the prevention of racial discrimination against foreign temporary workers.
We review the agreement, signed in May 1996, and its background.
A Presidential Decree on the establishment of European Works Councils (EWCs)
in Greece was signed on 20 March 1997. Its purpose is to transpose into Greek
law EC Directive 94/45/EC on the provision of information and consultation to
employees in Community-scale undertakings and Community-scale groups of
undertakings, which, under the terms of the Directive, should have been
transposed by 22 September 1996. The Presidential Decree takes up the option
provided in the Directive of not applying its provisions to maritime workers.
Under a novel provision in the Finance Bill, 1997 which gives effect to this
year's Budget, employees are now entitled to tax relief on individual
lump-sum payments paid in the context of company restructuring. The payments
can be made by companies to their employees for agreeing to pay
restructuring, which must involve overall pay reductions of at last 10% of an
employee's average salary for the previous two years and must remain in force
for at least five years. While it is possible that basic pay could be hit by
the measure, the sort of payroll reductions envisaged are more likely to
effect non-basic pay items such as overtime, bonus payments and shift
In France, regulation of the working week is based on a piece of legislation
passed in 1936, which laid down a work schedule spread over five days.
Decrees on the application of this law made special provision, in each
sector, for the way in which these hours would be organised. The one
concerning banking dates from 1937.
The incidence of collective bargaining across a variety of sectors in
Portugal has tended slightly to decrease in the first quarter of 1997.
However, at the same time, the number of strikes has been increasing - often
to enforce reductions in working time
According to the report /Reported industrial injuries in the building and
construction sector, 1993-1995/, from the Labour Inspectorate, the sector
experienced a 22% increase in industrial accidents over the course of
1993-1995. The general increase in industrial accidents in the period was
11%. Whereas approximately 5% of the workforce are employed in the building
and construction sector, this sector reported 8% of all industrial accidents.
Every month one fatal and 50 serious accidents occur in the sector, and 84
fatal accidents took place at all Danish workplaces in 1995. The increased
number of accidents in the building and construction sector, according to the
Labour Inspectorate, can largely be explained by the sector's 9% job-growth
and the improved reporting of industrial accidents.
The /Seymour-Smith/ case has raised the issue of the legality of the two-year
qualifying period of employment before employees may bring a claim for unfair
dismissal. The /Observer/ in April reported that many employees are having
their employment contracts terminated only days before completing the
two-year period which is necessary to gain employment protection. At present,
full-time employees must have accumulated two years' continuous service,
while for employees who work between eight and 16 hours per week, the
qualifying period is five years.
In the wake of Renault's announcement of the closure of its plant at
Vilvoorde (EU9703108F ) European trade unions, the European Commission and
the European Parliament have called for tougher measures to protect the
interests of employees in the event of large-scale redundancies, business
transfers and relocation. In an address to the European Parliament (EP) in
March, Padraig Flynn, the commissioner responsible for industrial relations,
employment and social affairs, reminded member state governments that they
had rejected such tougher measures in 1992. While he argued that existing
legislation covered the situation at Renault, there had to be a serious
question mark over the deterrent effect of the level of sanctions currently
available. He told MEP s that he would "propose to the Commission that we
proceed in the coming weeks with the first stage of consultations with the
social partners at European level on this issue and I sincerely hope that we
are able, through this action, the strengthen the protection of workers"
(reported in RAPID, 11 March). He also pronounced himself in favour of the
institution of general rules to complement existing measures, aimed at making
information and consultation compulsory at member state level.
The European Restructuring Monitor (ERM) has reported on the employment impact of large-scale business restructuring since 2002. This publication series include the ERM reports, as well as blogs, articles and working papers on restructuring-related events in the EU27 and Norway.
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 European Working Conditions Telephone Survey (EWCTS) 2021, an extraordinary edition conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey was first carried out in 1990.
This publication series gathers all overview reports on developments in working life, annual reviews in industrial relations and working conditions produced by Eurofound on the basis of national contributions from the Network of Eurofound Correspondents (NEC). Since 1997, these reports have provided overviews of the latest developments in industrial relations and working conditions across the EU and Norway. The series may include recent ad hoc articles written by members of the NEC.
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.
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).