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As one of their ‘100 days in office’ initiatives, the new European Commission intends to propose an initiative for an EU minimum wage. The aim is that by 2024 every worker in the EU should earn a fair and adequate wage, no matter where they live.
Trade unions in many EU Member States face the issue of declining membership. This is a fundamental challenge for organised labour, but it is premature to speak about the redundancy unions: when it comes to important decisions affecting the workplace, restructuring being one, trade unions remain a powerful mechanism of employee voice. Latest data from Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) confirms that the presence of a trade union in the workplace is associated with greater employee voice and involvement in decision-making on restructuring.
Much of the discussion on the future of work is focused on globalisation and technology, and their impacts on the labour market. However, there is also a growing interest in the business models used by cooperatives and social enterprises, and how they can contribute to a better future of work. Eurofound’s research shows that cooperatives and social enterprises are resilient organisations with an interest in creating good quality jobs and making a positive contribution to the labour market.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) met for the first time 100 years ago, and right at the top of the agenda for discussion for this new specialised UN agency was the 8-hour working day. This discussion subsequently resulted in the Hours of Work (Industry) Convention, which stated that ‘The working hours of persons employed in any public or private industrial undertaking or in any branch there of (…) shall not exceed eight in the day and forty-eight in the week.’ A century later and, despite radical technological change in almost every aspect of our lives, the 8-hour workday still largely defines working life throughout Europe.
Economic disparities have been decreasing between EU member states over the past decade, but at the same time inequality has been growing within member states. Despite national level convergence, the gap in wealth and income between the rich and the poor is growing in most of Europe. Some of this rise has been attributed to increasing returns to education pushing earnings up faster for those in jobs requiring higher levels of education – while wages stagnate for the rest.
It feels like every day there are new articles or blog posts about how Uber drivers are exploited, or on the bad working conditions and safety standards for Deliveroo riders. In an era of ‘fake news’ can we trust that these are accurate? They most likely are, and I agree that things are not all rosy with regards to employment and working conditions of platform workers. But we should be careful with generalising from such messages that all platform work is bad.
The European Platform Tackling Undeclared Work last year documented the case of a Dutch temporary work agency that hired workers of various nationalities to work for a construction company in Belgium. The wages were suspiciously low, and the Belgian Labour Inspectorate believed that EU law guaranteeing such workers minimum rates of pay was being breached. Inspectors monitored and visited the company over several years, but it was only when they collaborated with the Dutch authorities that both were able to gather the necessary evidence and take steps to resolve the situation.
The Socialist-led Spanish government that emerged last summer had, by the end of 2018, approved a hike in the statutory minimum wage. This was agreed with the left-wing Podemos party as part of an attempt to secure the parliamentary support needed for passing the proposed 2019 budget – although failure to do so resulted in the April election. The new minimum wage came into force on 1 January, rising from 14 monthly payments of €735.90 per year to €900 for those in full-time employment.
The spread of ICT in the economy is changing both the types of jobs that employ people and the types of tasks that people perform in their jobs. The latest research on the content of work suggests that computerisation has boosted the proportion of jobs with social interaction at their core, while at the same time reducing social tasks within certain jobs.
A Union in recoveryThe European elections have come at a time when the EU is in good economic health. According to the majority of economic indicators, we have recovered from the most severe financial crisis in Europe since the war. H...