In January and February 1997, many French towns were hit by public transport
strikes, affecting bus, tram and underground rail services. The strikers'
demands differed somewhat from town to town but certain themes have been
common. such as: improvements in working conditions; better protection from
crime and delinquency, two consecutive days off in a week; and less taxing
route schedules. Strikers have also been demanding pay rises and a reduction
in the working week to 35 hours or less, with the recruitment of new
personnel to take up the slack. Demands for the right to retire with full
pensions at the age of 55, along with systematic replacement of retiring
employees by new recruitment, have also been frequently voiced.
In February, the Communication Workers' Union (CWU) launched a consultative
paper aimed at influencing the pre-election commitments of both the
Conservative Party and Labour Party. The union, which is firmly against
privatisation of the Post Office, has called for legislation to turn it into
an independent corporation, with the level of dividends pegged at 40% of
post-tax profits. The union feels that its proposals will have equal appeal
to all political parties because of the weight of public opinion opposing
The European Commission has recently published its report on progress made in
the implementation of equitable wage policies since 1993. The aim of
providing all employees with an equitable wage was enshrined in the Charter
of the Fundamental Social Rights of Workers, which was adopted by 11 member
states (with the exception of the UK) in 1989. In accordance with the 1989
social Action Programme, the Commission published an Opinion in 1993, which
stated that the pursuit of an equitable wage must be seen as part of the
general drive to achieve higher productivity and employment creation, and to
foster good relations between the two sides of industry. The member states
were encouraged to give substance to their commitment made in adopting the
Social Charter, by working towards the establishment of an equitable wages
policy. This was to be achieved through greater labour market transparency
with regard to wages. The social partners were also called upon to contribute
to the achievement of this aim.
The central social partners - the Austrian Trade Union Confederation
(Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund,ÖGB) and the Austrian Chamber of
Commerce (Wirtschaftskammer Österreich, WKÖ), the statutory body grouping
almost all nonagricultural enterprises - have for some time been discussing a
range of changes to the 1969 Working Time Law (Arbeitszeitgesetz, AZG). The
aim is to maintain competitiveness and employment by making possible a more
uneven distribution of working hours over time, without financial penalty to
the employer. This is expected to lead to higher productivity, better use of
plant, lower inventories, and a capability to respond more swiftly to
variations in demand. The trade unions also hope to achieve a reduction of
hours worked by individual employees in favour of more employment.
On 21 February 1997, theMinistry of Finance and the Danish Central Federation
of State Employees (CFU) signed a new collective agreement for the period
1997-9, covering 225,000 government employees. The parties agreed on a total
4.25% increase, of which 2.9% is to be allocated for a general pay rise, and
1.35% for pensions and other purposes. Additionally, a wage adjustment scheme
has been introduced to take account of private sector increases
One of the continuing quarrels between the Social Democrat Government and the
largest trade union confederation, the Confederation of Trade Unions for
Blue-Collar Workers (Landsorganisationen or LO), appears to have been settled
by an agreement on the overall features of the unemployment insurance system,
presented on 12 February. Formally, the Government is not involved in the
settlement, but the details of the settlement were presented in a press
release from the Ministry of Labour and in person by the Minister of Labour,
Margareta Winberg, together with LO's vice-president, Wanja Lundby-Wedin.
On 31 January 1997, the Second National Agreement on Temporary Employment
Agencies was signed. This is the second agreement reached in this sector
since the activity of temporary employment agencies (TEAs) in Spain was
approved in 1994. It will remain in force until 31 December 1999.
In a context of increasingly difficult youth employment in France, and of
social tension about what course of action to take, a recent national
conference has defined a number of concrete objectives. These seek to secure
employment for the most disadvantaged, and to expose students to the world of
work for the first time. These aims are based on a series of commitments on
the part of industry, Government and the social partners - who remain at odds
in their analysis - the effects of which must be monitored.
Declining union membership and a legal and ideological attack on the role of
trade unions over the past 17 years may have left many with the opinion that
employees no longer value the right to act collectively. It has been argued
that the attack on the unions throughout the 1980s and 1990s has left the
unions weak and unable to protect members' rights. Alternatively, it has been
argued that people now prefer to negotiate their own employment contracts
individually and do not need trade unions.
In a recent press interview, Padraig Flynn, the European commissioner
responsible for industrial relations and social affairs, expressed his unease
at press reports that the social partners' negotiations on part-time work
were heading for collapse, and stated that he remained hopeful of a positive
outcome. Senior trade union negotiator and deputy general secretary of the
European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), Jean Lapeyre, also stated that he
remained convinced that the negotiations could succeed. He stressed, however,
that if part-time work was to be made more attractive and acceptable for
workers, assurance of "decent social protection" had to be offered.
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).