The announcement by the French auto manufacturer, Renault, of the closure of
its plant with a workforce of 3,100 in Vilvorde in the Flanders region of
Belgium, has caused a wave of indignation throughout Europe. The closure is
part of a European restructuring project which also includes the axing of
2,800 jobs in France. The response by the unions, of an unusually rapid and
massive nature, took the form of strikes in all the group's European plants,
and a series of joint demonstrations.
Portugal's major Lisnave shipyards are being privatised. New industrial
readjustment and work organisation strategies are reforming human resource
management and training standards. However, in a company that has strong
trade union traditions, discussions with employee representatives on
restructuring have been conducted in a relatively formal and
institutionalised way, with little participative input from the employees
All industrial relations activities in Spain have been at a standstill in
early 1997, pending the conclusion of negotiations between trade unions and
employers' organisations on labour market reform. However, initial agreements
have been reached on types of employment contract and on dismissal
The UK has been the main recipient of Toyota's European investment so far, at
its plant in Derby. If the UK were to lose the new investment to France, it
would be a huge blow to the Government which recently had to "rebuild some
fences" after the company announced in February 1997 that it might switch its
investment elsewhere in Europe if the UK did not join the single European
The issue of the use of national and European subsidies to support employment
in a particular country, region or sector, has come under the spotlight in
recent weeks in the context of the controversy which has arisen from
Renault's announcement of the closure of its factory at Vilvoorde in Belgium
(see Record EU9703108F ). Renault's request for subsidies to expand its
operations in Spain was blocked by European competition policy commissioner,
Karel Van Miert, in order to investigate whether EU funding was being used to
transfer employment to a region offering lower wage and social costs.
Wage bargaining in the private sector commenced on 10 March 1997 with
negotiations between the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) and
theConfederation of Norwegian Business and Industry (NHO). So far the
question of voluntary early retirement has been the most difficult issue and,
after around one week, LO broke off the negotiations. Mediation was due to
commence the first week after the Easter holidays.
On 20 February 1997, Parliament adopted a law establishing retirement savings
funds. This legislation has a dual objective. Firstly, to provide private
sector employees with a new retirement cover financed by capitalisation, and
secondly, to strengthen the Paris financial market and balance the growing
power of foreign institutional investors.
In November 1996, the UK Government failed in its attempt to have the 1993
Directive on certain aspects of the organisation of working time (93/104/EC)
- which lays down specific requirements concerning weekly hours, holidays,
shifts and other patterns of work - annulled by the ECJ. The DTI launched
consultations with business organisations on implementation of the Directive
in December 1996, and the process was completed in March 1997. The DTI is now
analysing the responses, but is unlikely to produce the results until some
time after the 1 May general election.
On 19 March 1997, the European Commission launched the second stage of
consultations with the social partners under the Maastricht Agreement on
social policy on the proposal for an EU policy to counter sexual harassment
at work. At this second stage, the social partners will be able to choose
whether to go down the route of negotiation - leading to a framework
agreement which can be given legal validity at the EU level. The alternative
would be to submit their views in anticipation of a policy initiative
emanating from the Commission.
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).
The report describes trends in social and economic discontent across the EU between 2002 and 2020, highlighting in particular the turbulent times brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The report explores the evolution of social cohesion and its impact on economic and social discontent. It assesses the relationship between social cohesion and discontent during the pandemic, allowing for a comparison of the situation as it stands in 2023. The focus of the report is on regions where social cohesion is low, where a contrast is drawn with regions where social cohesion is much higher.
This report analyses the working conditions and job quality of different types of self-employed workers. Drawing on data from the European Working Conditions Survey, it looks into policies in Member States aimed at addressing the challenges and opportunities associated with specific types of self-employment.
This study provides information allowing for an assessment of the representativeness of the actors involved in the European sectoral social dialogue committee for the chemical sector. Their relative representativeness legitimises their right to be consulted, their role and effective participation in the European sectoral social dialogue and their capacity to negotiate agreements. The aim of this Eurofound’s study on representativeness is to identify the relevant national and European social partner organisations in the chemical sector in the EU Member States.
The focus of this report is on the role that human capital plays in determining inequalities across the EU, as well as within Member States. Using Cedefop’s work in this area, the report provides a comparative analysis of national trends in education and lifelong learning, including differences between educational groups in terms of income, living conditions and health.
The report maps trends in income inequality and examines the situation of the middle classes in the EU during 2020, the year most associated with the COVID-19 lockdowns. It charts developments in the size and composition of middle-class households across countries, identifies those that suffered disproportionately in 2020. Taking a longer lens, the report describes the evolution of income inequalities over the last 15 years, comparing the Great Recession (2007–2009) with the COVID-19 pandemic, and outlines the trends both between and within Member States.
This report explores the implications of the right of all EU citizens to live independently. It investigates the barriers faced by people who wish to live independently, and the situation of people at risk of living in institutional settings. It maps the various measures taken by EU Member States to foster independent living and autonomy. The report also includes policy pointers to support future decision-makers and provides a review of lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.