On 2 April 1997 it became public that during the ongoing collective
bargaining at the German automobile company, Volkswagen, management had made
a proposal to create a new "internal temporary employment agency"
(Zeitarbeitsgesellschaft). Depending on the incoming orders, the agency's
newly hired employees would be set to work at the different Volkswagen
plants. Volkswagen proposed to pay the new temporary employees under the
terms and conditions of the current branch-level collective agreement in the
The recent proposal by the EU agriculture commissioner, Franz Fischler, to
alter the method of granting Community aid to olive farmers fell like a
bombshell in Spain. This reform would not only have serious economic
repercussions, but would also lead to the loss of at least 70,000 jobs,
according to some trade unions in the sector. Farm-owners' organisations,
cooperatives, trade unions and the regional and central administrations have
rejected the proposal and are preparing all kinds of protest action.
In April 1997, the Norwegian Supreme Court found the Government not guilty of
abusing compulsory arbitration in order to stop industrial conflict. The
Federation of Offshore Workers' Trade Unions (OFS), which brought the
domestic lawsuit against the Government, lost on all counts.
An international comparison of labour disputes from 1986 to 1995 by /Labour
Market Trends/ (April 1997) highlights that the UK had the fourth-lowest
strike rate of the 22 member countries of the Organisation for Economic
Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 1995. Only Austria, Switzerland and
Germany had a lower level of strikes than the UK. The UK strike rate has been
below the OECD average since 1986 and below the EU average since 1990.
Between 1991 and 1995 the average rate in the UK was 24 working days lost per
1,000 workers - an 82% fall over the previous five-year period. But the UK's
rise in the international "league table" of two places since 1994 took place
despite an increase in the strike rate itself.
In the framework of negotiations for the two-year National General Collective
Agreement covering the years 1996 and 1997, the GSEE (Greek General
Confederation of Labour) trade union confederation placed on the agenda of
discussions with the employers its demand for the reduction of weekly working
hours to 35 without a reduction in pay. The negotiations led to the creation
of a working party of technical experts from both sides of industry to study
the issue and its effects on employment and competitiveness.
New legislation proposed by the Portuguese Government on the regulation of
part-time work is currently under discussion amongst the social partners. The
most important points include the definition of part-time work, the
requirement that part-timers should have employment contracts in writing and
pro rata minimum pay.
The cases have been hailed as a major victory for all National Health Service
(NHS) staff by the Manufacturing, Science and Finance (MSF) trade union,
which represented the workers involved in their cases. The union's national
secretary, Roger Kline said that the: "case is a momentous one. It has
implications for women staff throughout the NHS and other industries. It is a
landmark decision and is the biggest single breakthrough on equal pay for
women for many years."
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 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.
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).