Poland's once powerful trade unions now organise only 18% of the workforce,
one of the lowest unionisation rates in central and eastern Europe. The
reasons for the weakness of Poland's trade union movement have been examined
at a seminar held in May 2003 and in a book based on the discussions at the
seminar. This article summarises the main arguments and findings.
The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (Suomen Ammattiliittojen
Keskusjärjestö, SAK) published its own 'employment programme' in August
2003. It proposes 17 measures to raise the labour market participation rate,
cut unemployment and promote employment, especially for those whose labour
market position is weak. The programme also includes long-term proposals that
take into account problems caused by the ageing of the labour force.
During 2003, trade unions at Poland's Stalowa Wola metalworking company have
been organising industrial action in protest at the planned closure of the
group's iron and steel works, with the loss of 1,400 jobs. The government has
offered the workers to be made redundant assistance under a new programme to
soften the effects of industrial restructuring.
According to data issued by the Statistical Office of the Slovak Republic
(Statistický úrad SR, SÚ SR), in 2002 the average nominal wage increase
was 9.3%, up from 8.2% in the previous year (SK0207101N ). The average
nominal monthly wage of an employee was SKK 13,511 in 2002. Taking into
account data provided by the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family
(Ministerstvo práce, sociálnych vecí a rodiny Slovenskej republiky, MPSVR
SR), this means an increase in average nominal wages of 151.2 % compared with
1993 (the year that Slovakia became an independent state).
In early August 2003, the workforce of Factory Wagon SA, a privatised Polish
railway rolling-stock producer and repairer, launched strikes and other
protest action, with the immediate cause being several months' arrears in
wage payments. The strike ended in late August when the debt-ridden firm was
declared bankrupt, opening the way for the sale of its assets and possible
survival of its operations and jobs.
On 22 July 2003, the Austrian Trade Union Federation (Österreichischer
Gewerkschaftsbund, ÖGB) and the Chamber of Labour (Arbeiterkammer, AK)
jointly presented a study on the working and living conditions of 'atypical'
workers in Austria. The study (Atypisch beschäftigt - typisch für die
Zukunft der Arbeit ) evaluates interviews conducted in 2002 with 528
people who made use of special advisory services for 'atypical' workers
offered by both ÖGB and AK. More precisely, the researchers’ focus group
were self-employed people employed under either a 'free service contract'
(freier Dienstvertrag) or a 'contract for work' (Werkvertrag) (TN0205101S
). According to Austrian labour law, both groups are classified as
self-employed in the narrow sense, although they do not employ other people
and often work for only one client. Actually, their working situation
resembles to a great extent that of (dependent) employees. People working on
a 'contract for work' basis (also referred to as the 'new self-employed', or
neue Selbständige) are obliged to fulfil a certain, well-defined task,
regardless of whether they do this themselves or subcontract to other people.
For their part, 'free service contract' workers provide an (often fixed-term)
ongoing service. Formally, they are not subject to the instructions of the
client and are free to schedule their own working time. Working materials, in
general, have to be made available to these workers by the client.
In August 2003, the Polish government named four coal mines which are to be
closed in 2004, following an agreement reached with mineworkers' trade unions
in 2002 on the closure of unprofitable mines. The announcement led to the
unions calling strike action in the mines concerned, despite government
assurances that new jobs or appropriate accompanying social measures will be
arranged for all the miners to be made redundant.
The comparative study was compiled on the basis of individual national
reports submitted by EIRO's national centres. The text of each of these
national reports is available below in Word format. The reports have not been
edited or approved by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living
and Working Conditions. The national reports were drawn up in response to a
questionnaire  and should be read in conjunction with it.
On 11 June 2003, a tripartite meeting was held on the initiative of the
Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB ) to discuss
the issue of unpaid wages. The meeting brought together representatives of
the government, employers’ organisations and CITUB and its member branch
federations, along with trade union officials from some of the companies
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.
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.
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).
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 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.
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.
The financial services sector is pertinent for studying the impact of digitalisation, as the main ‘raw material’ of the sector is digitally stored and processed. Process automation in the sector is likely to lead to significant job losses over the next 10 years, as the high street bank presence declines and the online bank presence increasingly accounts for a higher share of overall activity. Such trends have already been identified in bank restructurings captured in Eurofound’s European Restructuring Monitor.
This study provides information allowing for an assessment of the representativeness of the actors involved in the European sectoral social dialogue committee for the electricity 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 study on representativeness is to identify the relevant national and European social partner organisations in the electricity sector in the EU Member States.
This study provides information allowing for an assessment of the representativeness of the actors involved in the European sectoral social dialogue committee for the gas 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 gas sector in the EU Member States.
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.
The hospital sector has been deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals and their workers are on the frontline in the fight against the virus, and they face a number of significant challenges in terms of resources, work organisation and working conditions. 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?