May 1997 saw Unilever defending its pro-European stance to shareholders,
while the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) was also signalling its
willingness to work with the trade unions prior to the adoption of European
The findings of a Eurostat study entitled /Statistics in focus: income
distribution and poverty in the EU 12 - 1993/, published on 14 May 1997, show
that one out of six citizens and households in the 12 pre-1995 EU member
states live below the "poverty threshold". In more than half of these
countries, the figure was even higher - one in five. Even more alarmingly,
over one-third of poor households were working. These findings are drawn from
the first wave of statistics generated from the European Community Household
Panel (ECHP). The ECHP consists of a sample of 60,500 households selected
randomly in the 12 member states, using a harmonised questionnaire. This data
does not allow for a comparison of social change over time, but does provide
important information on the magnitude and dimensions of poverty and income
disparity in the European Union in the early 1990s. The figures show that
there are approximately 57 million socially excluded individuals in EU, a
problem affecting both more and less affluent member states.
At a time when public opinion seems to be losing interest in the campaign for
the May/June 1997 parliamentary elections (if opinion polls published in the
middle of May are to be believed, less than half the electorate said they
were interested in the debates and manifestoes) the trade unions and
employers' associations, while not telling their members which way to vote,
are voicing their main demands and preparing the forthcoming social agenda.
Presenting its 1996 results on 6 May 1997, Deutz AG, the German machinery and
tractor maker which almost collapsed last year, also publicised information
on the employees' contribution to its 1996 rescue package. The group is
undergoing a radical restructuring after a crisis last year, caused by big
losses on cement plants in Saudi Arabia. The deal was struck in May/June 1996
between management and the group works council  and included the
Recent months have seen an intensifying and unresolved dispute over pensions
at Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB), including 14 days of strike
activity starting on 21 February 1997. This is the first time in four years
that all the unions represented on the TMB workers' committee have acted
jointly to claim what they understand as a right laid down in previous
New wage agreements were reached on 25 May 1997 covering the Norwegian state
sector, the municipal sector and the municipality of Oslo. The new agreements
include a voluntary early retirement scheme for the age-group from 62-63
years and moderate wage increases. The wage settlement for the public sector
is therefore in line with the settlement in the private sector with regard to
total wage growth.
The high-level expert group on worker involvement was established in 1996
with the aim of developing solutions to break the 25-year deadlock on
European Commission proposals containing clauses on worker involvement, and
in particular, the European Company Statute (ECS). The Commission has
repeatedly stressed the importance of such a statute, enabling the
incorporation of companies at EU level, in order to improve the
competitiveness of European companies. Such proposals have long remained
blocked in the Council of Ministers, largely because of concerns from
countries with advanced employee participation systems which fear that the
ECS could be used by companies to circumvent national legislation in this
area. Similarly, a solution would have to avoid imposing foreign models of
employee representation upon member states where there is currently no
provision for the appointment of worker representatives to the boards of
During the fourth bargaining round for its 90,000 employees, the German car
producer Volkswagen AG announced the creation of several hundred new jobs.
According to an agreement between management and the IG Metall trade union,
the newly hired employees will be employed exclusively on a temporary basis
and will de facto be remunerated below the level of the company agreements.
Although being hired on the terms of the current company agreements, the
newly hired employees will not be eligible for the compensatory extra pay
component which was agreed when Volkswagen established the four-day working
week in 1994, and thus they will be paid 10% less than core employees.
According to the agreement, details will be fixed by the social partners at
establishment level. During the negotiations, the IG Metall rejected
Volkswagen's plans to pay the newly hired employees according to the
branch-level metalworking agreement. The compensation of the new temporary
staff will still be around 10% higher than the pay other employees receive on
the basis of the current branch-level metalworking agreement.
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?