In late April 2003, the management of the Arcelor steel group and trade
unions at Cockerill Sambre, its subsidiary in Wallonia, Belgium, reached
agreement on the gradual closure of the company's blast furnaces in Liège.
This feature examines the changing objectives and strategies of management,
the unions and the Walloon regional government during the affair, and
outlines Arcelor's latest investment project in Wallonia along with a number
of unresolved problems.
At the annual Conference on the Family held at the end of April 2003, the
French government announced a number of new family policy measures. Notably
it is to introduce in 2004 a new benefit for parents of young children,
replacing a number of existing schemes. The reaction of the social partners
has been mixed.
The issue of company directors’ pay is highly topical in the UK following
regulations in 2002 to introduce a clearer role for shareholders (UK0111101N
). With greater transparency has come controversy over the links between
boardroom pay and corporate performance. In June 2003, the government issued
a consultative document looking at best practice and legislative options
concerning directors’ severance payments, with trade unions calling for a
tougher regulatory framework.
A meeting of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs
Council was held in Luxembourg on 2-3 June 2003 under the Greek Presidency.
Ministers debated a range of employment and social policy issues, with
varying degrees of success.
The government announced in May 2003 that it intends to introduce legislation
on corporate manslaughter, with details to follow in the autumn. The home
secretary, David Blunkett, said: 'there is great public concern at the
criminal law's lack of success in convicting companies of manslaughter where
a death has occurred due to gross negligence by the organisation as a whole.
The law needs to be clear and effective in order to secure public confidence
and must bite properly on large corporations whose failure to set or maintain
standards causes a death.'
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) held its10th statutory congress
 in Prague on 26-29 May 2003, under the slogan 'Make Europe work for the
people'. ETUC currently has 78 member organisations (national trade union
confederations and centres) from 34 countries in western, central and eastern
Europe, as well as 11 sectoral European industry federations, making a total
of 60 million affiliated members. The congress is the supreme authority of
ETUC and meets every four years (the ninth congress was held in 1999 -
EU9907182F ). The congress is composed of delegates from the affiliated
organisations in proportion to their membership. It elects the members of the
executive committee, the president, the general secretary and the two deputy
This article outlines a range of initiatives being undertaken by the UK's
Trades Union Congress (TUC) and its affiliated unions aimed at combating
disability discrimination and promoting equal rights for workers with
disabilities, in the context of 2003 being designated by the EU as the
European Year of People with Disabilities  (EU0209201N ), and
European-level social partner statements in this area.
On 8 May 2003, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled (in case C-171/01
 /Wählergruppe Gemeinsam Zajedno v Birlikte Alternative und Grüne
GewerkschafterInnen/UG/) that the Republic of Austria must allow employees of
Turkish nationality to be eligible to stand as candidates for election to the
general assembly of the Chamber of Labour (Arbeiterkammer, AK). The judgment
resulted from a case referred by the Austrian Constitutional Court
(Verfassungsgerichtshof, VfGH) to the ECJ for a preliminary ruling in March
2001. The VfGH - Austria's highest court for matters including elections to
statutory representative bodies in the industrial relations field, such as
the Chamber of Labour - had referred the matter to the ECJ since the former's
members had been undecided as to whether Community law was in conflict with
the Austrian legislation which excludes workers who are citizens of countries
outside the European Economic Area (EEA) from eligibility to stand for
election as officers in the Chamber of Labour (AT9802168N ).
Since autumn 2002, trade unions representing staff employed in the French
state education system have been taking industrial action in opposition to
the government’s planned reforms in areas including pensions,
decentralisation and budget cuts. After an 11th day of strike action and
protests on 10 June 2003, the government made some progress in placating the
unions. Whatever the outcome of this dispute, it is probable that the
discontent among teachers, who have been highly mobilised for months, will be
According to a representative survey of 1,001 firms with fewer than six
employees carried out by the Forsa Society for Social Research and
Statistical Analysis (Gesellschaft für Sozialforschung und statistische
Analysen mbH, forsa ) in March 2003, many small firms of this size have
encountered difficulties owing to Germany's dismissal protection 
legislation over the past five years. The protective legislation currently
applies to employers with more than five employees. The survey finds that
since 1998, among firms with four or five employees, 14% and 15% respectively
have had negative experiences related to this legislation. One in seven small
firms in the representative survey state that they have not created new jobs
due to the strict dismissal protection legislation which applies when their
workforce exceeds five. For enterprises with four or five employees, which
would be most immediately affected if they employed additional staff, this
figure increases to 27% and 31% respectively - see the table below.
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.
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, conducted in three rounds – in April and July 2020 and in March 2021. This is complemented by the inclusion of research into the ongoing effects of the pandemic in much of Eurofound’s other areas of work.
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.
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?
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.
Given that compliance with lockdown measures is a first line of defence against COVID-19, maintaining trust in institutions is vital to ensure a coordinated, comprehensive and effective response to the pandemic. This report investigates developments in institutional and interpersonal trust across time, with a particular emphasis on the COVID-19 pandemic period and its impact. It examines the link between trust and discontent and investigates the effect of multidimensional inequalities as a driver of distrust.
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 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.
The report provides an overview of the scale of teleworking before and during the COVID-19 crisis and gives an indication of ‘teleworkability’ across sectors and occupations. Building on previous Eurofound research on remote work, the report investigates the way businesses introduced and supported teleworking during the pandemic, as well as the experience of workers who were working from home during the crisis. The report also looks at developments in regulations related to telework in Member States and provides a review of stakeholders’ positions.
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.
The COVID-19 crisis has increased inequality between social groups in health, housing, employment, income and well-being. While a small part of society was able to hold on to or increase its wealth, other groups such as women, young people, older people, people with disabilities, low- and middle-income earners and those with young children were acutely affected by the pandemic. Drawing on current research on how to best measure multidimensional inequality, this report highlights recent trends in inequality in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.
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.