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Highlights, 05 Sep 2014

  • 05 Sep 2014
    Cyprus: Action plan to tackle high unemployment

    The Government of Cyprus has been attempting to tackle steadily increasing unemployment. There are three basic prongs to its policy: supporting small and medium-sized enterprises, supporting employment in selected sectors of the economy, and addressing youth unemployment. However, unions have criticised the measures since they were announced in February 2014, saying they are inadequate and that the money would be better spent improving the state of the economy.

  • 21 Aug 2014
    Slovenia: Court approves earlier pay deal for public sector workers

    The Government of Slovenia has been ordered to pay millions of euros to public sector employees who didn’t receive an agreed pay rise after it was frozen as part of austerity measures. The Trade Union of State Bodies of Slovenia has won a case against the state in the Higher Court. The court ruled that a pay deal agreed in 2008 must be honoured, and the wages of about 20% of public sector employees should be raised. The money will be paid in two instalments with interest.

  • 21 Aug 2014
    Croatia: Evolution of minimum wage levels

    The development of the minimum wage in Croatia has been a gradual process and the formula for setting it has been changed several times, most recently in February 2013. The current formula uses indicators considered more ‘socially sensitive’. It takes into account inicators such as the monthly poverty risk threshold for a single member household, and any change in the average price index of consumer goods. Unions want a minimum wage that is at least 50% of the average wage.

  • 14 Aug 2014
    Croatia: Impact of the economic crisis on employment

    Unions and employers have been discussing changes to labour laws in Croatia. The economic crisis has brought the issue sharply into focus. While business groups are calling for more flexibility, unions say labour laws should be used to foster good relations between the two sides, and not only to help businesses overcome difficult trading conditions. An analysis of employment trends in Croatia between 2009 and 2012 has highlighted the impact of the crisis on trade and on workers.

  • 14 Aug 2014
    Slovenia: Tougher rules on temporary work agencies

    On 27 November 2013 the Slovenian Parliament adopted a number of amendments to the Labour Market Regulation Act to regulate the recruitment and supply of temporary labour, especially among foreign workers. In recent years there has been a surge in complaints about workers being paid below the minimum wage and the failure of employers to follow labour regulations, particularly in the construction sector.

  • 01 Aug 2014
    Croatia: Proposed changes to labour law aimed at creating jobs

    Croatia’s strict Labour Law polarises its labour market between workers who are protected by its provisions, and the unemployed, who are rarely able to find one of these coveted highly protected jobs. The Ministry of Labour wants to reduce employment protection in the hope that this will stimulate job creation. Employers approve, but trade unions want to keep mechanisms that guarantee automatic pay increases and set out comprehensive safeguards against dismissal.

  • 01 Aug 2014
    Slovenia: Most public sector unions back pay cuts

    More than two thirds of Slovenia’s public sector unions backed government proposals to cut the public sector wage bill by introducing pay cuts of between 2% and 3%. The agreement is part of a package of measures in Slovenia’s Stability Programme that delivers the decreased public sector costs demanded by the European Commission. The agreement was backed by 24 of the country's 34 public sector trade unions.

  • 31 Jul 2014
    Denmark: Migrant workers: positive assets or ‘benefit tourists’?

    The influential Confederation of Danish Employers has published an analysis of the effect of migrant workers on the country’s economy. It concluded workers from Poland and Romania in are a net benefit to the Danish state since migrants pay more tax than they receive in benefits, pensions and other forms of welfare such as child allowances. The report angered those who fear that many migrants are ‘benefit tourists’, and that Danes are losing jobs to cheap migrant labour.

  • 30 Jul 2014
    Italy: Mixed reaction to creation of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

    Italian car-making giant Fiat has undergone a major corporate reorganisation. On 29 January 2014, the Fiat Group governing board approved changes which create the new group, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, FCA. The group will have its legal head office in the Netherlands and its tax domicile in the United Kingdom. Some union leaders welcomed the ‘potential employment and economic opportunities’ for workers, but Fiom-Cgil said it was further evidence of Fiat moving away from Italy.

  • 21 Jul 2014
    Slovenia: Decline in workers’ bonus pay post-crisis

    Slovenian workers are feeling the effects of the global financial crisis in their pay packets. Fewer workers have been receiving extra year-end payments (YEPs), whether the ‘13th month’ payment or the traditional Christmas bonus. Research carried out on the subject by Slovenia's Institute of Macroeconomic Analysis and Development has found that both the number of those receiving a bonus and the bonus amount in 2012 was significantly lower than in 2011. Estimates suggest that in 2013 less than 20% of all companies paid a YEP.

  • 15 Jul 2014
    EU Countries: Industrial relations in central public administration: Recent trends and features

    This report maps current developments in industrial relations systems in the central public administration sector across the Member States, covering all EU Member States except Croatia, which joined the EU in mid-2013. The report explores to what extent there is formal industrial relations processes within the sector, including the organisation of unions and employer representatives, and the role of collective bargaining and consultation. It also examines the specific features of the sector in terms of both industrial relations processes and worker outcomes and charts reforms that have been carried out since 2008: changes in collective bargaining and in the balance of negotiation versus unilateral imposition of change by the employer, and the responses of trade unions. Finally, the report addresses the role of the social partners regarding the outcomes for employees of the recent austerity measures on issues such as wages, job security, working time and pensions.

  • 24 Jun 2014
    EU Countries: Developments in collectively agreed working time 2013

    In 2013, the average collective agreed weekly working time in the European Union was 38.1 hours, the same as in 2012. However, the working week was, on average, 30 minutes shorter in the pre-2004 EU15 Member States, and more than 90 minutes longer in the more recent Member States. If the collectively agreed normal annual working time is taken as the pattern, in 2013, full-time workers in the EU will have worked, on average, nearly 1,712 hours (1,676 hours in the EU15 and 1,819 hours in the recent Member States). Of the three sectors examined, the civil service sector recorded the shortest average agreed normal working week at 38 hours – although this represents an increase of 0.2 hours compared with 2012. In the chemicals sector and in retail trade, the average agreed working times were 38.1 and 38.3 hours, respectively, both representing an increase of 0.1 hours compared with 2012. Collectively agreed paid annual leave entitlements stood at 25.4 days across the EU. These were slightly higher in the EU15 countries (26.8 days) and considerably lower in the more recent Member States (20.8 days).

  • 18 Jun 2014
    EU Countries: Changes to wage-setting mechanisms in the context of the crisis and the EU’s new economic governance regime

    This report explores the impact of the crisis on wage-setting mechanisms in the 28 EU Member States plus Norway. It also examines the impact of the EU’s new economic governance regime – specifically the requirements of the country-specific recommendations and Memoranda of Understanding – on wage-setting mechanisms. It looks at changes in wage bargaining levels, the extent of horizontal coordination across bargaining units, links between the different levels involved in wage setting, minimum wage-setting and indexation mechanisms, and the volume and duration of collective wage agreements. The report examines the factors influencing changes, chiefly economic and political ones, and addresses the role of different institutional actors in initiating and implementing changes, including the social partners, national governments and the European and international institutions. Overall, the extent and consequences of change in wage setting has been greatest among the countries receiving financial assistance packages from the troika of European and international institutions.

  • 16 Jun 2014
    Hungary: Rise in ‘mutual agreements’ between the social partners

    The signing of mutual agreements between employers’ groups and unions in Hungary is commonplace. They are often signed by the country’s largest union and the largest employers’ organisation. Now, for the first time, a deal has been struck between the Confederation of Hungarian Employers and Industrialists, and the fast-growing Democratic League of Independent Trade Unions. The two organisations have agreed to work closely in the future for ‘mutual interests’.

  • 16 Jun 2014
    Ireland: Pay-setting powers of joint labour committees curtailed

    The revision of Ireland’s joint labour committee (JLC) low pay review and wage-setting system has attracted mixed reactions from unions and employers. The committees’ function is to set minimum pay in sectors where wages are typically low. In 2011, the High Court ruled that the wage-setting mechanism used by the committees was unconstitutional. After a lengthy review, The JLC system has been refined, its powers limited and two JLCs have been abolished altogether.

  • 13 Jun 2014
    EU Countries: Developments in collectively agreed pay 2013

    The available national data reveal that average nominal collectively agreed pay increases in 2013 were roughly the same as or lower than those in 2012 in all the countries examined. However, because of lower inflation rates, employees in a number of countries saw the purchasing power of their wages increase again. This is a change from the post-crisis trend that had been observed since 2011 in many EU Member States. The increases in collectively agreed nominal wages for the chemical sector were lower in 2013 than in 2012. The development in the retail sector was less straightforward, with 10 countries reporting a lower wage increase in 2013 than in 2012 and another 10 countries reporting a higher or equal wage increase. From the sectors examined (civil service, retail and chemical sectors), civil service pay trends were the most negative, with the majority of countries surveyed reporting pay freezes or pay cuts in the sector.

  • 10 Jun 2014
    Hungary: Controversy over downsizing at steel plant

    Hungary’s largest steelmaker, ISD Dunaferr, intends to lay off 1,500 workers in a downsizing programme imposed by its parent company. Although it has been making annual losses since 2008, trade unions oppose the plan, arguing that the job cuts could mean the end of steelmaking in Hungary. The government announced in 2013 that it would seek a buyout, with the aim of establishing a stable company with the possibility of long-term employment. However, no agreement has yet been reached.

  • 10 Jun 2014
    Sweden: New moves to create jobs for people under 25

    Legislative initiatives to tackle unemployment in Sweden among the under-25s have been rare. However, in January 2104, the Swedish Government introduced ‘working life introductory positions’, a form of employment which combines work with vocational training. It is hoped they will give young people with little or no experience of work the chance to establish themselves in the labour market. Companies who take part in the scheme will be eligible for subsidies.

  • 30 May 2014
    Romania: Tripartite social dialogue under review

    A conference in Romania on the topic of ‘Tripartite Social Dialogue: Current Status and Prospects’ was organised by the government in early February 2014. The conference was attended by government representatives, leaders of the national trade union confederations and leaders of employers’ organisations. At the conference, participants who took the floor expressed the social partners’ often conflicting viewpoints, but all agreed that social dialogue is essential.

  • 30 May 2014
    Italy: Milestone agreement signed on union representativeness and representation

    Italy’s main trade union confederations have signed an agreement which brings together and complements the protocols on representativeness agreed in 2011 and in 2013. It defines rules for measuring and certifying unions’ representativeness at national and local level, and regulates the enforceability of collective labour agreements. It also covers workplace representation structures and details procedures for the election of unitary workplace union structures.

  • 23 May 2014
    Romania: Trade unions’ initiative promotes social dialogue

    A three-year project in Romania has developed the use of social dialogue in rural areas of the country. The project ran from 2010 to 2013 in regions where trade union density is low and there has traditionally been a lack of social dialogue. During the initiative, around 550 events were organised which were attended by more than 17,000 people. The project saw the creation of 260 partnerships between institutions and civil society organisations involved in social dialogue.

  • 23 May 2014
    Poland: Minimum wage data shocks experts

    The number of people earning the minimum wage in Poland has been made public by the Central Statistical Office. The figure includes those employed in micro-enterprises, on civil law contracts and the self-employed. The research, which was carried out at the request of the trade unions, revealed the number of workers being paid by the minimum wage was twice as high as official estimates suggested, a result described as ‘shocking’ by experts and union representatives.

  • 23 May 2014
    Ireland: Longer hours for bank staff

    Staff at the Central Bank of Ireland have agreed to work longer hours, bringing them in line with current working hours in the public sector. The deal is regarded as one of the successes of the Haddington Road Agreement which has cut public service wages for the third time in five years in return for a government commitment to make no compulsory redundancies. This deal may be viewed as a template for managing change across a large and complex unionised public sector organisation.

  • 23 May 2014
    Finland: Social media campaign promotes union membership

    Finnish trade unions are exploring new ways to tackle declining membership. A month-long recruitment campaign was organised by AKAVA, the Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff, and used social media platforms Facebook and Twitter to encourage discussion on union issues. The campaign became a forum on the importance of union membership for both employees and Finnish society. Decreasing union density has been a concern for the movement since the 1990s.

  • 16 May 2014
    United Kingdom: New code of practice on flexible working

    Employees in the UK who have worked for their employer for 26 weeks or more will soon have the right to ask for flexible working conditions. Legislation that changes the rules on flexible working is currently in its final parliamentary stages. It obliges employers to consider requests for flexible working in a ‘reasonable manner’. Ahead of the changes, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service has published a draft code of practice and broader good practice guidance.

  • 13 May 2014
    Slovenia: Dispute over minimum wage indexation

    Slovenia’s minimum wage is one of the highest among the EU Member States. Despite average wages remaining stagnant, in Slovenia the minimum wage increased to 50% of the average wage in 2012. Following a review by the European Commission stating that the minimum wage needed to be reviewed to help reverse losses arising from cost competitiveness, the government promised to make changes in 2013, in dialogue with social partners. However, the government later said it would not make changes for the time being.

  • 13 May 2014
    Romania: Gap between qualifications and labour market demand

    A report on Romania’s education system reveals a gap between vocational training provision and the needs of the labour market. There are currently around 80,000 fewer vocational and technical students than the labour market needs, while in schools for technical managers there are more than four times as many students as are likely to find jobs. The authors of the National Trade Union Bloc report conclude that there is a lack of communication between companies and schools.

  • 06 May 2014
    Norway: Working mothers entitled to paid breastfeeding breaks

    New mothers in Norway are now entitled to paid breaks to breastfeed their babies. Although collective agreements in some sectors already guaranteed this right, new legislation that came into force on 1 January 2014 extends it to all working mothers. The right to take breastfeeding breaks has been guaranteed by labour legislation since the 1950s, but employers have not been obliged to pay workers who take them. The objective of the new law is to improve the income security of new mothers.

  • 06 May 2014
    Sweden: Trend toward collective agreements with no fixed pay increase

    During Sweden’s 2013 collective bargaining round, there was a trend towards agreements that set no fixed pay increase. The yearly report from Sweden’s National Mediation Office shows that although this trend had already been seen in previous bargaining rounds, it increased significantly in the 2013 agreements and will affect an estimated 800,000 workers by 2015. The social partners’ reactions to this vary. Employers have welcomed it, and trade unions’ views are mixed.

  • 28 Apr 2014
    Norway: Social partners and experts examine wage model

    Norway’s wage formation model has been examined in depth by a specialist tripartite committee, taking into account issues such as a future fall in oil revenues, the international competitiveness of Norwegian companies, and increasing labour migration from the rest of Europe. The committee presented its report in December 2013, unanimously concluding that although the wage formation model was sustainable, some change was needed to keep wages in check and prevent social dumping.

  • 28 Apr 2014
    United Kingdom: Tube strike prompts calls for tougher strike laws

    In early February 2014, London Underground train services in the UK capital were disrupted by a 48-hour strike organised by transport unions RMT and TSSA. Staff were protesting at management plans to close 278 ticket offices, with the loss of 953 jobs. An interim agreement between Transport for London managers and the unions averted a second planned 48-hour stoppage. Politicians from the Conservative Party, the largest group in the ruling coalition government, have called for tougher strike laws.

  • 28 Apr 2014
    Germany: New agreement on pay and training in chemicals sector

    In February 2014, the social partners in the chemical industry concluded a new collective agreement. The deal was struck after only two rounds of collective bargaining talks at the sectoral level. Key aspects of the agreement include a pay increase of 3.7% and a commitment to create around 9,200 new vocational training positions each year between 2014 and 2016. The new agreement runs for 14 months and affects some 550,000 employees in 1,900 establishments in the chemical industry.

  • 17 Apr 2014
    Estonia: Government adopts bill to stop board members receiving unemployment benefit

    The parliament adopted an amendment to the Labour Market Services and Benefits Act. The change stops ‘members of the management or supervisory body of a legal entity’ from registering as unemployed. The government aims thereby to prevent misuse of the unemployment benefit system. Business groups and unions say the amendment will damage the Estonian business environment and reduce the number of people willing to work in the non-profit sector.

  • 17 Apr 2014
    Lithuania: Social partners sign agreement on Youth Guarantee

    On 14 January 2014, social partners in Lithuaniasigned a memorandum agreeing to cooperate on the implementation of the country’s Youth Guarantee initiative. The aim is to train young people for the labour market in a way that also takes account of the needs of the economy, helping them to acquire the skills and qualifications that will make them employable. It was also agreed that young people should be offered a job or training within four months of leaving education or becoming unemployed.

  • 15 Apr 2014
    Germany: Union membership holds up well

    According to the latest figures from the Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB), the combined membership level of its affiliated trade unions declined by 0.1% in 2012. Compared to previous years this meant that the overall consolidation continued. Four out of eight affiliates, among them the metalworkers’ union IG Metall the largest DGB union, increased membership in 2012. Others, most notably the rail- and the construction workers, only managed to slow a downward trend.

  • 11 Apr 2014
    Malta: Unions in dispute over recognition at bank

    Trade unions in Malta have clashed over which should be recognised by an employer. A recent high profile dispute came in the banking sector. GWU, the General Workers’ Union, lost its right to represent employees at the Bank of Valletta (BOV) in 1994. It recently claimed it had regained its majority among employees. This was contested by the Malta Union of Bank Employees which successfully took out a court injunction to stop BOV negotiating a new collective agreement with GWU.

  • 11 Apr 2014
    Czech Republic: Unions and employers agree collective deals

    Experts and the media have been monitoring collective bargaining in the Czech Republic. Five large employers have recently embarked on the process. Four of these are important employers in the transport sector – one in air transport and three in the railway sector. Employers and unions at these businesses have already concluded company-level collective agreements for 2014. Another large employer, car maker Škoda, has concluded the first stage of its negotiations.

  • 11 Apr 2014
    Estonia: Radical reform to work incapacity rules

    The Government of Estonia wants to radically reform the country’s incapacity for work policy. The proposals come after figures revealed the increasing number of people who received some kind of incapacity benefit and their low participation in the labour market. The first step of the reform is to move from the evaluation of incapacity to evaluation of a person’s capacity to work. The government also wants changes to initiatives to support people who are willing to work.

  • 10 Apr 2014
    Estonia: Agreement boosts pay of Estonian ship workers

    On 29 January 2014 Estonia’s largest shipping company, Tallink, signed an agreement with the largest seafarers’ union. Wages for workers on Tallink’s ships will increase by an average of 8.2% from 1 January 2014 and those in junior positions will get an increase of more than 10%. Those working on shuttle-type vessels in the summer will receive an extra increase of 5%. The agreement was signed after five months of intense negotiations mediated by the National Conciliator.

  • 09 Apr 2014
    Portugal: Unions win return to 35-hour week in local administration

    Public sector unions in Portugal have been trying to win back the 35-hour week. The government passed a law in September 2013 that increased it to 40 hours a week with no pay rise for the extra time worked. The unions have had no success at central administration level but, by the beginning of February 2014, local negotiations had led to about 145 agreements that restore the 35-hour week in local authorities. The government, anxious to cut costs, is refusing to approve the new agreements.

  • 07 Apr 2014
    Belgium: New work voucher scheme under scrutiny

    The Belgian service voucher scheme, which allows users to buy household services subsidised by the state, is a major actor in creating jobs for low-qualified workers. Following the great success of this scheme, the Federal Minister of Employment Monica De Coninck has proposed a work voucher scheme. Its aim is to help jobseekers enter the labour market, particularly the young unemployed. However, political parties and social partners’ opinions are strongly divided.

  • 04 Apr 2014
    Czech Republic: End of working time opt-out in healthcare gives rise to problems

    Hospitals in the Czech Republic are facing staff shortages because of changes to Labour Code rules on working hours. A transitional period which began in October 2008 ended on the last day of December 2013. It had allowed some flexibility on overtime hours, and some healthcare workers were exempted from maximum working time rules. The changes, combined with a longstanding shortage of medical staff in certain fields, mean a number of hospitals could now face serious problems.

  • 31 Mar 2014
    Poland: Social dialogue reaches critical juncture

    Social dialogue in Poland has been problematic for many years and the social partners have been calling for change since 2005. In June 2013, unions suspended their participation in the Tripartite Commission in protest at government changes to the Labour Code without consultation. In September 2013, successful national protests led to a rise in public support for the unions. The social partners are now trying to agree on how a new social dialogue body might operate.

  • 31 Mar 2014
    Latvia: Supermarket catastrophe uncovers poor working conditions in retail sector

    When the roof of a supermarket in Latvia collapsed on 21 November 2013, there were 54 fatalities – customers, workers and rescue workers – and 38 people injured. The incident provoked great anger and pressure for those responsible to be named and punished. An investigation has shown that working conditions in many supermarkets, including the Maxima chain where the tragedy occurred, were poor and that unionisation of workers was not encouraged by employers in the sector.

  • 21 Mar 2014
    Poland: Social partners call pension systems overhaul ‘unconstitutional’

    Pension reform introduced by the Polish government has been strongly criticised by the social partners, institutions and experts. The reforms are the most significant changes to the pension system since 1999, placing severe restrictions on private pension funds and redirecting a larger part of their contributions to the state’s Social Insurance Institution. The social partners argue that this is a shortsighted attempt to reduce public debt and rescue public finances.

  • 21 Mar 2014
    Luxembourg: New government launches plan to tackle unemployment

    The new coalition government in Luxembourg has adopted a programme to address social and employment issues. The fight against unemployment is a priority, as are issues relating to working conditions and other aspect of employment legislation. Following the austerity measures of the previous government, the social partners have largely welcomed the new government and its commitment to modernising the country and its governance, and to restoring the economy’s competitiveness.

  • 17 Mar 2014
    Cyprus: Three-year redundancy plan at Telecoms company

    The partially state-owned Cyprus Telecommunications Authority has announced a three-year redundancy plan that will initially be voluntary. Approved by all the company’s unions, it will cut staff by between 550 and 600 employees and is expected to save €263.5 million. During the first six-month phase of the scheme, staff will be able to volunteer for redundancy or retirement. More employees will be selected for redundancy during the second phase to meet staff reduction targets.

  • 17 Mar 2014
    Poland: Fixed-term contract regulation under EU scrutiny

    The European Commission has supported a complaint made by Poland’s Independent and Self-governing Trade Union about the regulation of fixed-term contracts. The Commission has questioned the regulations governing the length of the notice period for fixed-term contracts, the use of excessive consecutive fixed-term contracts, the permitted interval between one contract and another, and the concept of ‘tasks conducted periodically’.

  • 17 Mar 2014
    Czech Republic: New coalition government restores social dialogue

    On 29 January 2014, 95 days after parliamentary elections in the Czech Republic, a coalition government that promised to restore social dialogue was formed. Union leaders have already met with the leaders of the coalition parties. The unions praised the coalition agreement of December 2013 and welcomed the restoration of social dialogue. The government’s policy statement was discussed with both unions and employers at a tripartite meeting on 12 February 2014.

  • 10 Mar 2014
    Spain: Pay and work–life balance central to new agreement at Mercadona

    A new collective agreement has been reached at Spanish supermarket chain Mercadona covering the period from 2014 to 2018. The deal was reached between the company, which employs more than 70,000 workers in Spain, and unions UGT and CCOO. The agreement guarantees a minimum monthly wage of €1,260, a pay increase of 0.4% in 2014, and measures to ensure employees enjoy a better work–life balance. The supermarket has also pledged to create 1,000 open-ended jobs over four years.

  • 10 Mar 2014
    Bulgaria: Minimum wage rise triggers mixed reactions

    The Bulgarian government has announced that the minimum monthly wage will increase by 9.7% from the beginning of 2014. The decision, which will affect around 10% of all employees, follows debates over the 2014 draft budget in the National Council for Tripartite Cooperation. While trade unions have welcomed the decision, employers are critical, arguing that the rise will add to business costs and will encourage employers to move towards the informal economy or lay off personnel.

  • 05 Mar 2014
    Malta: Union reacts angrily to critical hospital report

    A report on the management of Malta’s main public hospital has brought an angry reaction from healthcare unions. The report, commissioned by the Maltese Government and released at the end of November 2013, highlights a number of concerns. It claims levels of overtime pay at the hospital were excessive, the shift system was cumbersome, and there was a lack of control over the working time schedules of staff. The Malta Union for Midwives and Nurses has refuted all the allegations.

  • 05 Mar 2014
    Luxembourg: Trade union position stable after workplace elections

    On 13 November 2013, 437,000 employees and retired workers were invited to vote in the workplace elections held in Luxembourg every five years. The task was to elect representatives to staff delegations, which are similar to works councils, and to the Chamber of Employees. Since a single status was adopted for manual and non-manual workers, the chamber has functioned as an official discussion and consultation body involved directly in the country’s legislative process.

  • 05 Mar 2014
    Denmark: Tripartite agreement on vocational education reform

    Social partners in Denmark have thrashed out an agreement on improving vocational youth education. Reform is needed to address problems including reduced numbers of young people receiving this type of training, high drop-out rates and a lack of practical training. These have combined to cause concerns over the supply of skilled workers in the future. Improvements to the scheme include a simpler structure, the introduction of more practical courses and extra teaching hours.

  • 28 Feb 2014
    Sweden: Social partners join forces to promote EU elections

    This year is election year in Sweden with elections taking place at both national and EU level. The peak-level social partners representing both employers and employees have joined forces in a bid to increase the level of participation in the European Parliament election. Taking a joint stance regarding the EU’s positive impact on Sweden, they maintain that it is time for the people to take an active role in the EU decision-making process.

  • 28 Feb 2014
    Italy: Restructuring plan agreed for electronics giant

    In December, following six months of negotiations with the Italian government, trade unions signed an agreement for a restructuring plan for white goods manufacturer Indesit. The agreement was ratified by a referendum, and it outlines the priorities for the company’s Italian plants in innovation and research, management, production reorganisation and investment. Public authorities will use social shock absorbers to support the restructuring programme.

  • 27 Feb 2014
    Poland: New anti-crisis legislation in force

    In late November 2013, new anti-crisis legislation came into force in Poland. The new law finally fills the gap left by the expiry in 2011 of temporary anti-crisis legislation introduced in 2009. However, the new legislation is not the result of social dialogue and while employers are generally in favour of the changes, trade unions have been highly critical. The legislative process was eventually completed without union consent.

  • 26 Feb 2014
    Italy: New industrial relations protocol for gas sector group

    A group of companies in Italy’s gas sector, Snam, has signed two important agreements with unions. The first identifies a new model for collective bargaining, participation and the involvement of the unions by setting up an industrial relations committee. The second is a framework agreement for employment. The agreements, concluded on 17 October 2013, are part of the widespread restructuring of the group that has been supported by the Ministry of Economic Development.

  • 26 Feb 2014
    France: Youth Guarantee pilot scheme underway

    For 30 years, help for young people trying to enter the labour market has been a policy focus for successive French governments. Under-25s are not eligible for state income support and recent figures show that 23% of those aged between 18 and 25 live in poverty and have precarious employment. Since October 2013, the government has piloted the Youth Guarantee initiative to address this problem. Although welcomed by unions, other social partners have said the scheme is too costly.

  • 20 Feb 2014
    Netherlands: Collective bargaining developments marked by stability

    Collective agreements cover around 84% of workers in the Netherlands, and this makes the annual report on collective agreements produced by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment at the end of 2013 a significant document. The report looks at the content of these agreements, which is generally very broad, covering issues such as sickness, disability, employability and flexible work. The report contributes significantly to the understanding of Dutch industrial relations.

  • 18 Feb 2014
    Denmark: Workers reject investment plan to save jobs

    Workers at meat processing company Danish Crown have turned down a deal designed to save slaughterhouse production and jobs in Denmark. Shop stewards and management had negotiated an agreement to move part of the workers’ wages into an investment fund. But workers wanted more assurances on jobs. Over the past decade, slaughterhouses in Denmark have been closed and work has gone to other countries. The deal was an attempt to reverse the decline of investment and employment.

  • 12 Feb 2014
    Greece: Social partners try to tackle high youth unemployment

    Youth unemployment has risen to disturbingly high levels in Greece. Labour market entry has become extremely difficult for the thousands of young people leaving school and university because the continuing economic crisis has forced many enterprises to close or suspend operations, and job cuts in the public sector are still underway. Data from the Labour Force Survey show that half of those aged 29 and under are out of work, compared to 15% in 2008, and half of this group have never had a job.

  • 03 Feb 2014
    Belgium: New collective agreement on temporary agency work

    Social partners at Belgium’s National Work Council have negotiated a new cross-sectoral agreement on temporary agency work. It modernises existing laws and collective agreements to suit the current employment market. Changes relate mainly to the use of temporary agency work and daily work contracts. While employers and unions are broadly in favour of temporary agency work, unions are anxious to make sure it is closely regulated.

  • 28 Jan 2014
    Austria: Tackling low pay for part-time workers

    Part-time workers in Austria earn 24.2% less per hour than full-time employees according to a study. While full-timers earn an average of €13.60 gross an hour, part-time workers earn only €10.31. This is the same, regardless of gender, for all sectors and job groups. Almost a third of part-time workers earn less than €8.70 an hour, the equivalent of a full-time monthly wage of €1,500 which unions and the Labour Ministry want to see set as the country’s minimum wage.

  • 28 Jan 2014
    Germany: New coalition agreement changes labour market rules

    Elections in Germany have resulted in a new coalition agreement between the country’s two leading parties. The results of the elections, in September 2013, saw the Christian Democrats fall short of a majority. After tense negotiations, a deal was agreed with the Social Democrats. The agreement included proposals for major changes to the German labour market, including the introduction of a national minimum wage. The deal was welcomed by the unions but employers were less happy.

  • 28 Jan 2014
    United Kingdom: Unions demand inquiry into blacklisting

    In November 2013, trade unions in the UK held a national day of action to highlight the issue of blacklisting, the practice of illegally denying workers employment because of their union activities, particularly in the construction industry. Unions are seeking a full inquiry and legal action has been started against several construction companies. The Scottish government has taken steps to exclude companies from public contracts if they have used blacklists.

  • 22 Jan 2014
    United Kingdom: Initiatives to reduce psychosocial risk

    In 2004, in consultation with the social partners, the UK’s Health and Safety Executive developed a set of management standards to reduce psychosocial risk at work. Building on this work, new national standards are being developed by the British Standards Institute in conjunction with the social partners and other expert organisations. It is hoped these will provide normative standards, not only for managers, but also for the prevention of psychosocial risks in the workplace.

  • 22 Jan 2014
    EU Level: General approach on posted workers agreed

    A general approach to the proposal for an enforcement Directive on posted workers has been agreed by the Council of the European Union. Employment, social policy, health and consumer affairs ministers hope the proposal will balance protection for posted workers with the principle of European businesses being free to provide services anywhere in the EU. It is supported by employers in construction, a sector that uses large numbers of posted workers, but unions have been critical.

  • 22 Jan 2014
    EU Level: Quality framework for anticipating company change and restructuring

    In December 2013, the European Commission proposed a quality framework to encourage employees, social partners and regional and national agencies to follow best practice in anticipating company change and restructuring. The framework covers issues such as the strategic long-term monitoring of market developments, continuous mapping of jobs and skills needs, and measures to help individual employees, such as retraining and assistance in finding new jobs.

  • 22 Jan 2014
    United Kingdom: Government consults on regulating ‘zero hours’ contracts

    In December 2013, the British Government began consultation on the possible regulation of ‘zero hours’ employment contracts. Trade unions are highly critical of zero hours contracts, saying the current system is open to abuse. Employer groups defend their use, saying many employees are happy with them, and that they helped save jobs during the economic crisis. It remains to be seen whether the consultation will result in legislative intervention or new guidelines.

  • 20 Jan 2014
    Poland: Reform of employment services in pipeline

    Following criticism from the social partners in Poland about the reduction in spending on active labour market policies, in July 2013 the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy proposed comprehensive reforms of public employment services in Poland. The reforms would involve the support of job creation and training, targeting in particular vulnerable groups such as young people, workers over the age of 50 and parents returning to work after taking a career break to look after their family.

  • 20 Jan 2014
    Czech Republic: Strike action averted in mining industry

    Collective bargaining in the Czech mining company OKD has proven to be lengthy and problematic. Initially, negotiations were stalled by the failure to agree on the method used to calculate bonuses and, in the meantime, the company faced economic problems caused by increased operating costs and low coal prices. OKD had to restructure, announcing job and wage cuts and the sale of assets. Unions threatened strike action but this was avoided when an agreement was signed in November 2013.

  • 20 Jan 2014
    Austria: Rise in real wages in retail sector

    In Austria's retail sector, some 500,000 white-collar employees will be covered by a new, innovative collective agreement. The agreement, valid for two years, sets a minimum wage increase of 2.55% for 2014; in 2015, wages will increase in line with the Consumer Price Index plus an additional 0.4%. The gross monthly minimum wage will reach €1,500 in 2015, which corresponds to unions' demand for a cross-sectoral minimum wage. The agreement gives employees a clear wage perspective.

  • 20 Jan 2014
    Austria: Above-inflation wage increase for metalworking sector

    After five tough rounds of negotiations and the threat of strikes, a new collective agreement in the Austrian metalworking industry was reached. Wages will increase by between 2.5% and 3.2%, with the lowest wage groups receiving the highest increase. The highly controversial topic of flexible working time was also raised, but was once again postponed. Both employers and employees are content with the agreement, which should set an example for other sectors.

  • 13 Jan 2014
    Slovakia: Reducing long-term dependence on benefit

    Benefit reform is to be introduced in Slovakia to solve the problem of significant numbers of people living long-term on benefits intended for those ‘in material need’. The government has drawn up new legislation proposing stricter qualifying conditions and requiring any employable beneficiary to take part in minor, mainly community, works for at least 32 hours a month. If they fail to do so, their benefit will be significantly reduced. It comes into effect on 1 January 2014.

  • 13 Jan 2014
    France: Government to revise rules on Sunday working

    The French government recently commissioned a report on the rules and regulations for Sunday working, currently the focus of widespread public debate. There is a general consensus among shoppers, workers, unions and employers that the law in this area, which dates back to 1990, is complex, allowing numerous exemptions from the general ban on Sunday working. The key issue is how to maintain the principle that employees may work on Sunday only if they choose to do so.

  • 13 Jan 2014
    United Kingdom: Employers back EU but call for reform

    A report by the UK’s principal employer organisation the Confederation of British Industry said the UK should remain a member of the EU. However, it said reforms were urgently needed including in the area of social and employment regulation. The report, in November 2013, came in response to UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s commitment that a future Conservative government would renegotiate the UK’s relationship with the EU and hold a referendum on the outcome.

  • 10 Jan 2014
    Estonia: Social partners agree minimum wage rise

    The minimum wage in Estonia is to be increased after an agreement between social partners. The deal was finalised on 19 September 2013, when the Estonian Employers’ Confederation and the Estonian Trade Union Confederation signed an exceptional minimum wage agreement. It will increase the national minimum wage from €320 to €355 in 2014 – about 36% of Estonia’s average wage – and to €390 in 2015. The social partners said the increase was necessary for the lowest wage earners.

  • 10 Jan 2014
    Poland: Trade unions lead largest street protest in decades

    In mid-September, more than 100,000 Polish workers marched through Warsaw in the biggest demonstration seen in the capital city in recent decades. It was part of the ‘National Days of Protest’ campaign jointly organised by three national trade unions. This type of concerted action by major unions at national level is unprecedented in Poland and follows the unions’ decision to boycott the Tripartite Commission in protest at the current government’s approach to social dialogue.

  • 10 Jan 2014
    France: Film industry finally strikes collective agreement

    After years of negotiations, the French film industry has struck a deal on a collective agreement covering workers in the sector. On 8 October 2013, the social partners in the industry signed an amendment to the latest collective agreement. It had originally been signed in January 2012, but by only one of the employer organisations. The deal came into force after seven years of discussions and months of difficulties between the social partners and the French government. .

  • 08 Jan 2014
    Spain: New collective agreement in tanning sector

    Workers in Spain’s leather tanning sector have had to take strike action to persuade employers to complete collective agreement negotiations begun almost two years ago. After the talks, which began in January 2012, stalled yet again this summer, the unions called for four days of national strikes in the sector and scheduled them for November 2013. After two days of strikes, the employers’ organisation agreed to resume talks and further industrial action was cancelled.

  • 07 Jan 2014
    Spain: Social partners agree way ahead for coal industry

    A restructuring initiative for the Spanish coal industry has been agreed. Social partners and the Government of Spain have released details of the Coal Industry Framework 2013–2018 which outlines the plan for an ‘ordered closure’ of uncompetitive mines over the next five years. The agreement sets out measures designed to alleviate the social consequences of the closures and to encourage other activities in regions with economies that are largely dependent on coal-mining.

  • 07 Jan 2014
    Germany: Young people offered training opportunities

    A total of 482,400 new vocational training contracts had been concluded in Germany by the end of the 2012/2013 vocational guidance year. These latest results have reignited a debate between the social partners about training and the labour market prospects of the young. Unions say that the number of companies offering apprenticeships is in decline, while employers focus on the fact that many companies bound by collective agreements are currently training young workers.

  • 07 Jan 2014
    Slovakia: Collective bargaining rules set to change again

    Employee groups and unions in Slovakia have had a long-running dispute over extending existing collective agreements to cover more employees. Over the past 10 years, the rules governing the extension of multi-employer collective agreements have changed several times. The disagreements have centred on whether an employer should have to give consent to the extension of a collective agreement. Employers insist on the need for consent and trade unions want to abolish it.

  • 07 Jan 2014
    Malta: Moves to tackle exploitation of migrant workers

    Anecdotal evidence in Malta suggests migrants, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, constitute the bulk of the country’s vulnerable workers who are treated unfairly at the workplace. This evidence has been corroborated recently by reports in the Maltese press. The General Workers’ Union, which has been conducting an intensive and sustained campaign against precarious work, has urged the Maltese government to do more to tackle the exploitation of immigrant workers.

  • 20 Dec 2013
    Ireland: Agreement reached on junior doctors’ working hours

    Non-consultant hospital doctors in Ireland have accepted an agreement to resolve a dispute over working hours. The Irish Medical Organisation and the Health Service Executive signed a deal to ensure no doctor would have to work a single shift longer than 24 hours. However, on 20 November 2013 the European Commission referred Ireland to the European Court of Justice for breaching the European Working Time Directive over its treatment of hospital doctors.

  • 20 Dec 2013
    EU Level: Steps made to improve seafarers’ employment rights

    The European Commission has announced proposals to include seafarers in five employment and social policy directives from which they are currently excluded. The changes would give them access to statutory forms of information and consultation and they would enjoy the same protection as other workers if their employer became insolvent or if ownership of the company they worked for changed. EU-based shipping companies are also offered help to remain competitive in the global market.

  • 20 Dec 2013
    Poland: Unions oppose changes to working time regulations

    Following lengthy and unsuccessful negotiations with unions, the Polish government has unilaterally introduced significant changes to the Labour Code that make it possible for employers to extend the working time reference period from four months to one year. Employers say this will help protect existing jobs and create new ones, but unions argue that the changes breach a European Commission directive and an International Labour Organization convention ratified by Poland.

  • 20 Dec 2013
    EU Level: Posted workers and youth unemployment

    Ministers of the EU’s Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council met in Luxembourg on 15 October 2013 to discuss the free movement of workers between Member States and the right of Member States’ workers and businesses to provide services across the EU. Also on the agenda was Europe’s high youth unemployment, the social dimension of the Economic and Monetary Union. The 2013 European Semester process was also evaluated.

  • 17 Dec 2013
    Cyprus: Extended shop opening hours provoke storm

    In October 2013, the government in Cyprus renewed legislation introduced in July to extend shop opening hours in tourist areas, and also declared the whole country a tourist zone. The government believes that the changes will boost employment. Unions, however, say that unscrupulous employers will avoid taking on new workers by hiring casual workers at less than the minimum wage, and some are already forcing current employees to work longer hours than the law allows.

  • 17 Dec 2013
    Sweden: Debate continues over use of locum doctors

    An historical shortage of doctors in Sweden has led to several counties relying on the use of locum physicians. However, this practice has recently been criticised because temporary staff are costly and some believe their frequent use puts patient safety at risk and decreases the quality of Sweden’s healthcare system. This summer, one county council stopped using locum physicians. It has already reversed its decision and has since been criticised by the social partners.

  • 17 Dec 2013
    Romania: New collective agreement for metro workers

    Unions and management at Romanian transport company Metrorex have signed a new collective agreement. Unions had threatened strike action to support demands for a new agreement to replace the expired one and the ending of a five-year pay freeze with inflation-linked salary rises. Metrorex runs the underground service for Romanian capital Bucharest, which is used by 700,000 passengers a day. The company receives annual subsidies of €180 million to cover its revenue shortfall.

  • 06 Dec 2013
    Ireland: Management retains ‘soft side’ during crisis

    A new study has found that human resource management in Ireland has retained its ‘soft side’ despite the difficulties posed by the economic crisis. ‘Soft’ methods connected with development of staff have been used, rather than 'hard' HR, characterised by curbing pay rises, cutting jobs and cutting working time. Unions meanwhile have played a defensive role, with their focus being on job retention and minimising the impact of cuts to employment terms and conditions.

  • 06 Dec 2013
    Italy: Agreement safeguards more than 900 jobs at tyre plant

    Workers at a Bridgestone Tyres production plant in southern Italy have had their jobs safeguarded six months after a plan was announced to close the factory. On 30 September 2013, Bridgestone Europe signed an agreement for a €31 million investment programme at the plant with unions and the Italian government. Production will shift to general-use tyres, enabling the plant to compete with low-cost imports. It is thought that more than 900 jobs have been saved.

  • 06 Dec 2013
    Romania: Health workers demand major changes to system

    Health professionals in Romania have joined forces to call for reforms to the country’s healthcare system. Romania has the most poorly funded health system in Europe and the situation has been made worse by the current economic crisis, resulting in the steady migration of Romania's health professionals to work in other countries. The new Health Professionals Coalition has been formed to lobby for changes to a system in which junior doctors are paid as little as €250 a month.

  • 29 Nov 2013
    Bulgaria: Postal workers’ protest ends in victory

    On 25 September 2013, over 1,600 workers at the Bulgarian state-owned postal company organised a protest rally to demand an increase in wages, compensation payments by the state for providing the universal postal service, and a transparent process for any proposed privatisation. There has been tension in the company since 2011 when the company was first threatened with privatisation. The government has agreed that, wages will be increased by 10% and, as demanded, compensation will be paid.

  • 29 Nov 2013
    Italy: Social partners agree measures to promote growth and employment

    In September 2013, the Italian employer’s association Confindustria and the three main trade union confederations reached agreement on three key issues to be addressed to promote economic growth, employment and industrial development in Italy. The issues are reform of the tax system, better support for Italian industry, and a review of public administration and spending. The government has approved the proposals and will open discussions with the social partners.

  • 22 Nov 2013
    Cyprus: Public sector reform to target pay and appraisal systems

    In October 2013, after an independent review of the public sector in Cyprus, the state payroll was declared unsustainable. Reforms to the current system were proposed to link performance with pay. Automatic promotion will also be abandoned in favour of a new system based on merit and penalisation for poor performance. Despite opposing the reforms, the public employees’ union is willing to negotiate with the government over the changes.

  • 19 Nov 2013
    Romania: Bidder sought to rescue troubled chemical company

    In August 2012, employees of Romania’s state-owned Oltchim chemical company first protested against non-payment of salaries. Several attempts to privatise the company have failed and, in June 2013, almost 1,000 employees were dismissed and the working week was reduced to four days. One year on, employees still have not received salaries, nor have those made redundant received their severance pay. The authorities are still seeking a way to save the company.

  • 19 Nov 2013
    Luxembourg: Social partners sign agreement against harassment in the banking sector

    The social partners in the banking sector in Luxembourg have signed an agreement on harassment, following the conclusion of a national agreement on 25 June 2009. The agreement requires employers to adopt the principle that moral harassment will not be tolerated, as well as awareness-raising measures and training on prevention and protection. Although many banks have internal procedures in place already, this agreement is the first of its kind in the sector.

  • 19 Nov 2013
    Czech Republic: Health unions issue strike alert

    On 9 October 2013, the Czech Trade Union of Health Services and Social Care declared its readiness to strike over problems in the health and social care systems. Around 30 hospitals, together employing 8,000 people and treating around 1.2 million patients a year are in financial difficulty. Some may become bankrupt but the Ministry of Health has stated that simply giving money to the health sector will increase national debt, and it has accused trade unions of terrifying patients.

  • 12 Nov 2013
    Italy: Unions decry abrupt ending of banking sector agreement

    The Italian Banking Association announced on 16 September 2013 that the current national collective agreement for the banking sector will be terminated. In an address to the unions, the ABI said change was needed to reflect the difficult economic conditions that banks in Italy are facing, and to cope with the effects of new technology on the employment landscape. In response, the unions called a strike on 31 October.

  • 12 Nov 2013
    Hungary: Social partners uneasy over government deals with multi-nationals

    Social partners in Hungary are questioning the way the government negotiates strategic agreements with multi-national companies without due consultation. Unions and employer groups want more involvement in bargaining before agreements are finalised. The government has already signed deals with at least 20 companies including Coca Cola, Tesco and Microsoft, and would like to negotiate at least 30 more. The aim of these so-called ‘strategic agreements’ is to encourage cooperation and mutual support between the government and the multi-nationals.

  • 12 Nov 2013
    Portugal: Court rules some austerity measures to be unconstitutional

    Parts of Portugal's year-old revised Labour Code have been rejected by Portugal's Constitutional Court, the fourth time the government has had aspects of its austerity legislation challenged since the country’s financial bail-out by the Troika. In September 2013, provisions in the new Code that made it easier for employers to sack workers who could not adapt to new working conditions or to select workers for redundancy were declared by the court to be unconstitutional.

  • 06 Nov 2013
    EU Level: Ageing population could impede growth in EU job market

    A working paper analysing the impact of demographic ageing was issued by the European Commission on 11 September 2013. According to the findings, some of the economically strongest EU Member States will be confronted with serious employment growth constraints due to labour supply bottlenecks within the next five years. The working paper discusses a number of future policy options to address these problems, such as increasing working time, activating unused labour and encouraging mobility.

  • 24 Oct 2013
    Estonia: New Civil Service Act reduces civil servants by 25%

    Estonia’s new Civil Service Act, which has been in preparation since 2001, was finally approved by parliament on 13 June 2012. It came into effect on 1 April 2013 and aims to modernise public services and make them more effective. However, under the reforms, civil servants lose some benefits and the total number of civil servants is reduced by 25%. Unions remain critical of the new legislation and employers, while quite satisfied with the changes, feel they do not go far enough.

  • 24 Oct 2013
    Czech Republic: Unions reject plans to stabilise public transport company

    The Czech Republic’s ailing Prague Public Transport Company has appointed a new managing director who has announced measures aimed at stabilising the business. Jaroslav Ďuriš intends to freeze the wages of the company's 10,500 employees as part of a debt-reduction strategy. Unions have protested, saying that unfavourable long-term contracts with suppliers are the real source of the company's financial difficulties and the priority should be to renegotiate them.

  • 16 Oct 2013
    Malta: Controversy over appointment of new industrial tribunal

    The appointment of six new chairs to Malta’s Industrial Tribunal panel has caused controversy. After winning the March 2013 election, the new Labour government asked all the chairs of the tribunal to resign. This is accepted practice when a new party takes power in Malta, but many of the new chairs had strong trade union links and there were complaints from employers’ groups. Employers were also unhappy about the way in which former chairs were asked to resign their positions.

  • 16 Oct 2013
    Czech Republic: Funding cuts lead to job losses in spa care sector

    Traditional spa care providers in the Czech Republic are being hit by new rules for access to free treatment. The country has hundreds of mineral water springs which have traditionally provided natural healing for a range of ailments. Some of the medical treatment at the spas is available free of charge to patients under their health insurance scheme. But government cuts have led to the drawing up of a new list limiting the range of spa treatments that will continue to be fully reimbursed.

  • 16 Oct 2013
    Portugal: Constitutional court rejects latest austerity measures

    For the third time since the country’s bail-out by the Troika, Portugal's Constitutional Court has rejected proposed austerity measures. The court rejected a number of articles of the bill enacting austerity measures, saying that it violates a principle prohibiting dismissal ‘without just cause’, and also restricts a worker’s fundamental right to employment security. It said there were also issues about the principles of trust and legal confidence enshrined in the Constitution.

  • 15 Oct 2013
    United Kingdom: Trade unions in tussle over agency work directive

    The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has complained to the European Commission about the UK government’s implementation of the 2008 directive on temporary agency work. Its complaint concerns the so-called ‘Swedish derogation’, which circumvents equal pay provisions in the legislation. The confederation that represents employment agencies has, in turn, criticised the TUC, arguing that its complaint may create uncertainty, undermine employer confidence and lead to job losses.

  • 30 Sep 2013
    Belgium: Challenges in the labour market

    The average percentages given for Belgium’s socioeconomic situation often hide regional differences. Recent studies have shown that the three regions, Flanders, Wallonia and the Brussels region, have vastly different socioeconomic structures. Each region faces different challenges, ranging from high unemployment to labour shortage, and it has been suggested that closer cooperation would bring overall improvement in Belgium's labour market.

  • 30 Sep 2013
    Latvia: Young people get involved in trade unions

    One of the main goals of the Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia is to attract young people and encourage them to fulfil their creative potential. Its Youth Council, which was established on 27 November 1997, is actively involved in the trade unions’ activities and cooperates with similar organisations abroad. In recent years, it has organised several activities to protect young people’s interests in the labour market and to educate them about the function of trade unions.

  • 20 Sep 2013
    Italy: Company accused of anti-union behaviour

    Italian company Indesit, one of Europe’s biggest household appliance manufacturers, proposed 1,425 redundancies in a restructuring plan presented to unions in June 2013. After negotiations broke down, the unions organised strikes and protests at Indesit plants. The company suspended production from 28 June to 2 July, saying that lack of supplies caused by strike action had left them with no choice. The unions, however, claim the company was attempting to punish the strikers.

  • 20 Sep 2013
    United Kingdom: Zero hours contracts in the spotlight

    The issue of zero hours contracts has become one of the hottest political topics in the UK. Zero hours contracts allow companies to keep staff on standby while offering no guaranteed work. During August 2013, pressure grew on the UK government to make changes to legislation. Research into the extent of these types of contract was published, the opposition Labour Party called for tougher rules to cover their use, and there was a high profile industrial dispute over zero hours workers.

  • 20 Sep 2013
    Spain: One million workers to lose collective agreement protection

    Spain’s trade unions estimate that around one million workers may soon lose the protection of collective agreements. Legislation in 2012 removed a labour law provision that guaranteed the indefinite validity of a collective agreement, even after its official expiry date, if an employer refused to sign a new agreement. The maximum period for which an agreement can remain in force has now been fixed at 12 months after expiry. Many have not been renewed and are due to expire.

  • 13 Sep 2013
    Czech Republic: Minimum wage increase comes into effect

    The monthly minimum wage in the Czech Republic will increase to CZK 8,500 (about €330 as at 23 August 2013) from 1 August 2013. The minimum wage has been CZK 8,000 (about €310) since the last increase, six years ago in January 2007. The right-wing coalition parties whose government collapsed in June have resolutely opposed the increase. The unions have welcomed it, saying that it will improve the spending power of the 3% of employees in the Czech Republic who are paid the minimum wage.

  • 13 Sep 2013
    Finland: Social partners urged to restart talks on centralised agreement

    Negotiations in the spring of 2013 to reach a centralised agreement in Finland over pay and terms of employment quickly fell apart. The positions of trade union leaders and employer representatives were so polarised that it was felt there was no basis for the discussions. Politicians have urged the two sides, in the national interest, to put their differences aside and reopen talks on a centralised agreement. There has been support for new talks from both employees and employers.

  • 13 Sep 2013
    Latvia: Government raises minimum wage

    The minimum wage in Latvia will rise for the first time in three years from the beginning of 2014. The increase comes after negotiations between the country’s social partners. The Cabinet of Ministers agreed on 11 June 2013 on a rise from LVL 200 per month to LVL 225, confirming an agreement reached with the social partners at the National Tripartite Cooperation Council meeting earlier in June. The last time the minimum wage increased was on 1 January 2011.

  • 06 Sep 2013
    Austria: New working time model for retail sector

    Social partners in Austria’s retail sector have agreed a new model for Saturday work. Existing rules in the sector give employees one Saturday off for every Saturday worked. These will be replaced by what have been called ‘super weekends’. The plan will see employees being able to take time off from Friday through to Sunday or Saturday through to Monday five times in every six-month period. The new plan is being hailed as a ‘win-win’ situation for employees, employers and customers.

  • 06 Sep 2013
    Malta: New measures combat precarious work

    The Maltese government has introduced new conditions for employers who win government contracts. The measures to combat precarious work have been particularly welcomed by the General Workers’ Union which has been campaigning for some time for tighter regulation of government contractors. Employers, however, say the government has not consulted them properly, and the strict new rules will damage Malta’s private sector, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises.

  • 06 Sep 2013
    Latvia: Health and social care wages return to pre-crisis levels

    For many years, the health and social care sectors in Latvia have been under threat, facing problems caused by the implementation of austerity measures. Since the beginning of the economic crisis, trade unions have been engaged in active discussions with the government about how to improve the quality and quantity of health and social care services and an agreement to return salaries in social care and rehabilitation institutions to pre-crisis levels was reached on 5 April 2013.

  • 06 Sep 2013
    EU Level: Social council makes progress on key issues

    Progress has been made on key social and employment issues at a meeting of European ministers in Luxembourg. Delegates from the Council of Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs (EPSCO) met in June 2013. High on the agenda was the European Commission’s proposal for a Directive on improving the portability of supplementary pension rights. There were also talks on the Directive on electromagnetic fields, as well as the future of the European Global Adjustment Fund.

  • 28 Aug 2013
    Germany: Interim report on 2013 bargaining round

    The Institute of Economic and Social Research has published an interim report on Germany’s 2013 round of collective bargaining. The study evaluates collective agreements concluded in the first half of 2013, affecting about 45% of all workers covered by such agreements – around 8.7 million employees, 1.2 million of them in eastern Germany. The average annual increase in collectively agreed wages and salaries will be 2.8% in 2013, slightly above the average of 2.7% in 2012.

  • 28 Aug 2013
    France: Agreement on quality of working life and professional equality

    An agreement addressing the issues of quality of working life and professional equality has been signed by social partners in France. The national interprofessional agreement was signed on July 2013 by the country’s three employer organisations and three of the five representative trade unions. The two unions that refused to sign criticised the deal for failing to create new rights for workers. However, the door is now open for negotiations within companies on equality at work.

  • 28 Aug 2013
    EU Level: Commission launches consultation on undeclared work

    The European Commission has launched a consultation asking social partners for their views on the issue of undeclared work. The Commission wants discussions on further EU measures to prevent and deter undeclared work. Plans are being put forward to promote improved cooperation between enforcement authorities in Member States, such as labour inspectorates and tax and social security authorities. The deadline for submission of views and comments is 20 September 2013.

  • 22 Aug 2013
    Czech Republic: Mining company OKD announces job cuts

    Mining company OKD is to make 250 workers redundant and cut the wages of remaining staff, because the financial crisis has led to increased operating costs and lower coal prices. The hard coal extraction company, one of the biggest coal producers in Europe, operates in the North Moravia region in the Czech Republic. Its announcement, in May 2013, coincided with predictions that the region's mining and metallurgical industry could lose up to 13,000 jobs by the end of 2013.

  • 22 Aug 2013
    Estonia: Law amended to attract foreign specialists

    The Estonian parliament has approved amendments to the Aliens Act, making it easier for companies to hire highly qualified workers from abroad. The changes take effect from 1 September 2013 and will cut the length of time it takes for a foreign national with specialist knowledge or skills to begin working in Estonia from around three months to one week. Residence permit applications will also be simpler for foreign students. Both employers and unions support the amendments.

  • 14 Aug 2013
    Belgium: Steel giant’s restructuring galvanises opposition

    Concerns over the future of the Walloon region of Belgium have been raised by steel giant ArcelorMittal’s decision to restructure its operation in Liège. Social partners are discussing the impact of the restructuring announced in January 2013. National and regional governments are trying to work out alternative solutions for the future of the plant. ArcelorMittal, meanwhile, is adamant itwill not sell the business, preferring to move assets to other countries.

  • 13 Aug 2013
    United Kingdom: Redundancy consultation law redefined

    The UK’s national redundancy consultation legislation has been called into question by decisions in two legal cases during the first half of 2013. The Employment Appeal Tribunal was asked to consider whether the UK was complying with an EU directive on redundancy consultation. The tribunal has ruled that the minimum threshold for consultation, currently the proposed loss of at least 20 jobs, must apply to the whole of an affected company and not just to one establishment within it.

  • 13 Aug 2013
    Netherlands: Flexible contracts tackled by new legislation

    New research shows that the chances of a worker in the Netherlands becoming stuck in flexible employment for more than three years have vastly increased. This is mainly because fewer workers on flexible contracts are being moved on to permanent contracts. In response, Minister of Social Affairs Lodewijk Asscher has announced that in autumn 2013 he will propose legislation to make it more difficult for employers to endlessly extend short-term and temporary contracts.

  • 05 Aug 2013
    Netherlands: Minister links up with social partners in jobs initiative

    The Minister of Social Affairs in the Netherlands is to join forces with unions and employer organisations to tackle the problem of spiralling unemployment. The minister says the Dutch government will make €600 million available to help fund the project, provided the social partners match this figure. The social partners have been asked to submit realistic plans to get the worst-affected groups, such as young people, older employees and the disabled, working again.

  • 05 Aug 2013
    Latvia: Alarming rise in work-related accidents

    Work-related accidents in Latvia led to 34 deaths in 2012, with another 223 people suffering serious injuries. The figure is higher than in previous years. The Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia feels people do not take workplace safety seriously enough. The union used shock tactics during a protest at the beginning of 2013 to highlight the issue, when 34 mannequins, representing those who had died, were wrapped in sheets and laid on stretchers in the centre of Riga.

  • 05 Aug 2013
    Ireland: Landmark pensions ruling for glassware workers

    Former workers at Ireland’s Waterford Crystal have won a landmark ruling on their pensions. The European Court of Justice found that the Irish state did not adequately protect the pension entitlements of the workers when Waterford Crystal became insolvent in 2009. The ruling has enormous significance for the workers and for others involved in what is known as ‘double insolvency’. The case was brought by 10 members of the Unite trade union on behalf of all former employees.

  • 05 Aug 2013
    Greece: Deadlock over broadcast reform

    The Greek government closed down the public broadcaster without prior notice or consultation with staff on 11 June 2013. The government used exceptional constitutional powers to stop the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation’s radio and television transmissions, dismissing its 2,656 employees and revealing plans for a new network employing around 2,000 staff. Amidst widespread protests, staff continue to broadcast on other frequencies and the internet.

  • 31 Jul 2013
    Poland: First general strike in 30 years

    A general strike protesting at the Polish government’s labour policies was supported by around 85,000 workers in the Silesia region in March 2013. All three of the country’s nationally representative trade union confederations and two radical unions were involved with the aim of drawing attention to problems with social dialogue. The unions also oppose plans to make working time even more flexible and to allow the number of ‘junk’ employment contracts to increase.

  • 31 Jul 2013
    Italy: Solidarity contract saves jobs at major steelworks

    Italian steel maker Ilva, which has been at the centre of a court battle over the environmental impact of its Taranto plant, has requested a wage guarantee fund for 6,507 workers at risk of redundancy. Following consultations with the government, the company and trade unions have agreed on a solidarity contract that will reduce the working time of all workers for two years. The company has agreed that at the end of this period, it will not proceed with collective redundancies.

  • 31 Jul 2013
    Sweden: Unions call for changes to labour immigration rules

    The Swedish Trade Union Confederation has called for reforms to labour immigration policy. It says employers should have to prove a real need for foreign workers to fill gaps in the labour market. Before rules were changed in 2008, employers needed approval from the Swedish Public Employment Service to bring in foreign workers. Today, no such approval is needed. Unions say the new rules have led to the exploitation of workers. The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise disagrees.

  • 29 Jul 2013
    Italy: Industrialist’s jail term for asbestos deaths increased

    A Swiss industrialist has been given an 18 year prison sentence for his part in the deaths of workers from asbestos in Italy. On 3 June 2013, the Court of Turin ruled that Stephan Schmidheiny, an executive with asbestos manufacturer Eternit Spa, must also pay damages of €88 million. The appeal court ruling increases a previous jail sentence by two years. It also ordered that compensation should be paid to workers at two plants not included in the original sentence.

  • 29 Jul 2013
    Greece: Social security changes enforced

    Significant changes have been made to Greece’s social security system by the third Memorandum of Understanding between Greece and the Troika, which passed at the end of 2012. The main change is the increase in retirement age by at least two years for most categories of people covered by social insurance unless they were due to retire under the old provisions before the end of 2012. The new retirement age for most people will be 67, and a minimum 15 years of contributions will be needed to claim a pension.

  • 22 Jul 2013
    Hungary: Trade union federations announce merger plans

    Three of Hungary’s six trade union federations announced plans to merge on 1 May 2013. They say the plans will better protect the interests of employees, arguing that the current set up provides very little effective labour protection. This merger will create the largest trade union federation in Hungary, representing more than 300,000 employees. The European Trade Union Confederation supports the plan but some Hungarian unions are not convinced it will be effective.

  • 22 Jul 2013
    Cyprus: New hotel industry agreement 2013–2015

    Just before the official onset of the summer season, the social partners in Cyprus have signed a new collective agreement in the hotel industry. To counterbalance the reduction of labour costs, the new agreement, based on a mediation proposal from the Ministry of Labour, provides tools to safeguard employees’ rights to the provident fund and to monitor the implementation of the agreement. However, trade unions believe a significant number of workers in the sector will not benefit from the agreement.

  • 22 Jul 2013
    France: Further pension reform

    A new process of pension reform has begun in France. The government has received a report from a commission set up in 2012 to examine the future of pensions and its findings were presented to employers and trade unions in June. The incremental raising of the retirement age from 60 to 62 by 2018 began two years ago, and the new government has firmly ruled out any further increase. Only two courses of action remain; increasing contributions or lengthening the contribution period.

  • 18 Jul 2013
    Bulgaria: Emergency social measures for the most vulnerable

    Street protests and growing social unrest in Bulgaria during February and March caused a political crisis, including the resignation of the government and the calling of early parliamentary elections. They also highlighted the need for urgent action to help the most vulnerable groups of society. Ahead of the General Election scheduled for May, the interim government’s package of emergency measures worth BGN 41.4 million (€21 million) was approved by unions and employers.

  • 18 Jul 2013
    Czech Republic: Legislative proposal to limit public holiday trading

    Limits on shopping hours during public holidays in the Czech Republic have been put forward in draft legislation by the government. The proposal includes a ban on trading on seven annual public holidays and restricted opening hours on Christmas Eve. Some exceptions will, however, be made for small businesses, pharmacies, petrol stations and shops in railway and bus stations. The Civil Democrats and the Czech Confederation of Commerce and Tourism are against the bill.

  • 18 Jul 2013
    Slovenia: General strike in public sector held

    A one-day general strike was called in January after the Slovenian government announced that it would cut public sector pay by 5%. Trade unions protested that there had been no consultation, and demanded that the new national 2013–2014 budget should freeze the public wage bill but not cut it. However, even after the strike by 100,000 public sector employees, the government agreed only to discuss how to achieve the 5% savings it was seeking, whether through pay cuts or staff reductions.

  • 15 Jul 2013
    Austria: New bill entitles employees to care leave with benefits

    New measures to help employees combine work commitments with the care of relatives were agreed by Austria’s Council of Ministers on 4 June 2013. The bill allows employees, if they have their employer’s consent, to take full nursing care leave for up to three months, or to reduce their hours and work a minimum 10 hours part-time alongside their care duties. They will be able to claim benefit similar to unemployment benefit. The bill has received a mixed response from the social partners.

  • 15 Jul 2013
    Greece: Social partners sign new national agreement

    A new National General Collective Employment Agreement (EGSSE) has been signed by social partners in Greece. For the first time, the agreement does not include reference to the country’s national minimum wage. This is now set by the government, which is no longer obliged to consult with social partners. The new EGSSE is limited in terms of content and application, but it is hoped that it will prevent further private sector wage cuts. The employer group SEV refused to sign the agreement.

  • 08 Jul 2013
    Austria: New collective agreement for journalists

    After four years of tough negotiations, a new collective agreement for journalists has finally been concluded, effective from 1 July 2013. The collective agreement covers both print and online journalists, and gives equal treatment to the two employee groups for the first time. The deal also means regularly employed freelance journalists are covered by the agreement. Last year the employers had threatened to pull out of talks and cancel journalists’ contracts.

  • 08 Jul 2013
    Sweden: Impact of payroll tax cuts for young people questioned

    Payroll taxes paid by businesses in Sweden for young employees were reduced in 2007 and 2009. It was hoped the initiatives, which cost the Swedish government around €1.6 billion a year in lost revenue, would cut unemployment among young people by making them cheaper to hire. However, a study by the Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy shows the initiative has had little impact. Unions have criticised the scheme from the start for being expensive and inefficient.

  • 08 Jul 2013
    Germany: Metal and electrical industry wages to rise

    A pilot agreement in the metal and electrical industry was concluded in Bavaria in June 2013 and was then adopted by Germany’s other collective bargaining regions in the sector. It gives a total wage rise of 5.6% to be implemented in two stages, with a rise of 3.4% on 1 July 2013 and another of 2.2% on 1 May 2014. A €200,000 fund will also be set up to help disadvantaged young people. The new agreement runs until the end of December 2014 and affects around 3.7 million workers.

  • 28 Jun 2013
    United Kingdom: Key employment law reforms take effect

    A series of key employment law reforms were adopted or brought into force in the UK in spring 2013. The main changes relate to periods of parental leave, which will increase; redundancy consultation periods, which will decrease for large-scale redundancies; maternity, paternity and adoption pay, which will increase; and the introduction of several changes to employment tribunal procedures. A new type of employment contract, that of ‘employee shareholder’ has also been created.

  • 28 Jun 2013
    Austria: New training to plug skills gaps

    A new package of measures has been introduced in Austria for workers who want to develop their skills through extra training. The qualified employees’ package will give workers with low and medium skill levels the chance to gain new qualifications. The aim is to improve skills in areas where there are labour shortages. The unemployed and those already in the process of working toward a higher qualification in occupations with a lack of skilled labour will also be eligible for grants.

  • 28 Jun 2013
    EU Level: Social dialogue committee created in the graphical sector

    A new European social dialogue committee has been created in the graphical sector. Unions and employers will tackle problems facing the sector caused by structural changes in the industry and by the global financial downturn. The foundations of the committee were laid in 2010. Then, European-level social partners formed a strategic partnership and worked on a joint project on socially-responsible restructuring. In May 2013, the new committee held its first meeting in Brussels.

  • 25 Jun 2013
    Ireland: Unions reject plan to cut public pay bill by €1 billion

    Public service unions in Ireland have rejected any revision of the Public Service Agreement 2010–2014, known as the Croke Park Agreement. The ‘Croke Park Two’ proposals are intended to cut the public service pay bill by a further €300 million this year and €1 billion by the end of 2015. The government has warned that it may now have to legislate to cut wages and other non-basic pay remuneration if unions and the Labour Relations Commission cannot reach a compromise.

  • 25 Jun 2013
    Italy: Intersectoral agreement on representation and representativeness

    After years of division and infighting among union confederations in Italy, a new agreement has been reached. On 31 May 2013, the president of the employers’ organisation Confindustria and the leaders of the three major trade union confederations, Cgil, Cisl and Uil, signed a protocol on representation and representativeness for national industry-wide agreements. The deal includes rules for the measurement of representativeness and the effectiveness of sectoral deals.

  • 20 Jun 2013
    EU Level: Directive protects workers from electromagnetic fields

    In March 2013, agreement was reached between the Council of the EU, the European Parliament and the European Commission on a new directive to protect workers from the risks associated with electromagnetic fields. The range of occupations covered include power line repairers, welders, workers who use radar and healthcare professionals using magnetic resonance imaging machines. All Member States are expected to transpose its provisions into national law by July 2016.

  • 20 Jun 2013
    Malta: Union campaign targets precarious work

    An intensive and sustained campaign has been waged by Malta’s General Workers’ Union against precarious work. The union has ‘named and shamed’ a number of companies which employs workers under precarious conditions. It has called for contracts to be terminated, and companies to be blacklisted and excluded from government contracts. A director of one security service provider targeted by the campaign has insisted his company was following government regulations.

  • 11 Jun 2013
    Finland: New national agreement talks collapse

    Talks have broken down over a new centralised national framework agreement, which would cover 94% of employees in Finland. After three weeks of exploratory negotiations, the social partners found that the positions and preconditions of the trade union confederations and the Confederation of Finnish Industries remained so polarised that there was no basis for discussions. Following this, a high level of industrial action in the autumn is predicted.

  • 11 Jun 2013
    Ireland: €12 million plan to rescue Lufthansa pensions

    Management and unions at the long-established aircraft maintenance plant, Lufthansa Airmotive Technik Ireland, have agreed a proposed solution to their company pension fund crisis. It involves a phased €12 million injection into the fund by the German parent company, and means a transfer from the current defined benefit scheme to a new defined contribution scheme. This will preserve existing member benefits and allow employees a reasonable prospect of a good pension.

  • 06 Jun 2013
    United Kingdom: Government gives the nod to minimum wage increase

    The UK government announced in April 2013 that it had approved below-inflation increases in statutory national minimum wage rates, effective from October 2013. The Confederation of British Industry and the Trades Union Congress gave the move a measured welcome. The employers’ organisation said that the impact of the adult rate needed careful monitoring, given low pay increases across the economy, while unions would have liked minimum wage rates to have risen further.

  • 31 May 2013
    United Kingdom: Rise in migrant workers impacts workers and employers

    A report published by the UK Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in March 2013 suggests that the rise in the employment of migrant workers, which is often attributed to the better skills or work ethic of these workers, reflects a complex mix of factors and has long-term implications for both young British workers and employers. The report highlights the value of ensuring that career progression paths are set out clearly for entry-level employees.

  • 31 May 2013
    EU Level: Postal sector is getting greener

    European social partners in the postal sector have been looking at how to minimise the sector’s environmental footprint, and in April 2013 released details of their two-year study. It shows many firms are developing more energy-efficient fleets and buildings. Companies are searching too for alternative fuels and are thinking about reorganising mail routes in order to cut emissions. Efforts are also being made to ensure subcontractors share and respect this commitment.

  • 31 May 2013
    Portugal: New austerity measures after Constitutional Court rejects government plans

    An austerity package in Portugal, announced on 3 May 2013, includes cuts of €3 billion and will mostly affect civil servants and pensioners. These two groups had benefited from the decision of the Constitutional Court on 5 April 2013 to reject four measures included in the state budget. The package will affect 30,000 civil servants, causing redundancies, wage and pension cuts, longer hours and higher contributions to their health insurance. Their retirement age will also rise.

  • 31 May 2013
    EU Level: Report on impact of the crisis on social dialogue

    The European Commission published its report, Industrial Relations in Europe 2012, in April 2013. The report on the impact of the economic crisis on social dialogue and industrial relations, focuses on the public sector, and says fiscal consolidation, aimed at cutting government deficits and debt accumulation, has hampered social dialogue. However, it states structured social dialogue is still the best way to ensure the sustainability of economic and social reforms.

  • 24 May 2013
    Spain: Job cuts at restructuring flag carrier airline

    The Spanish airline Iberia is shedding 16% of its workforce after recording operating losses for the last four years. The company put forward two plans, one in November 2012 that would have led to 4,499 job cuts, and a second earlier this year that reduced job losses to 3,807. Both were rejected by unions, the second triggering threats of strike action. A third plan from a government-appointed mediator has reduced job losses to 3,141 and has been accepted by more than 90% of the workforce.

  • 24 May 2013
    France: Renault signs first competitiveness agreement for France

    The French car manufacturer Renault signed an agreement with unions in March 2013 intended to improve its competitiveness, avoid the closure of any of its French sites and avert any redundancies. Around 7,500 jobs will be cut through non-replacement of staff who choose to leave voluntarily. It is the first time that the group has negotiated this type of agreement in France, but it has previously signed similar agreements in Spain. Of its 128,653 employees, 42% are based in France.

  • 24 May 2013
    Slovenia: Retirement age increase as reforms take effect

    An overhaul of Slovenia’s pension system to tighten retirement conditions took effect on 2 January 2013. The changes are intended to cut the cost of state pensions. The full retirement age for both men and women has been increased to 65, or after 40 years of pensionable service if the worker is at least 60. Incentives to encourage people to stay at work beyond state pension age include being able to claim 20% of the pension they would have drawn, in addition to their salary.

  • 16 May 2013
    EU Level: Electricity sector training needs agreed

    Training and competencies are to become a focus for the social partners of the European electricity sector. In March 2013 they adopted a joint framework intended to anticipate the changes necessary to ease Europe’s transition towards a low-carbon economy. These include making the sector attractive to young people, and equality mainstreaming to guarantee consistent recognition of qualifications throughout the industry, fair access to training and age diversity.

  • 16 May 2013
    Latvia: Alarm over service pension reform proposals

    Wide-ranging reforms to so-called ‘service pensions’ are planned in Latvia. These pensions are paid out early to people who work in professions which are either dangerous, or where their ability to work is heavily dependent on their age and health. The Ministry of Welfare wants to raise the age of eligibility by an average of eight years and exclude a number of professions. The Trade Union of Culture Workers, the Ministry of the Interior and police are all unhappy with the plans.

  • 10 May 2013
    Romania: Impact of legislative reforms on industrial relations

    The International Labour Organization has called on Romania to make changes to its labour and social dialogue legislation. The move comes after a study on the Labour Legislative Reforms in Romania was published in January 2013 by a group of independent experts. The experts, and a round table meeting that coincided with the release of the study, conclude that labour reform in 2011 had a negative impact on workers. It affected union coverage and access to collective bargaining.

  • 10 May 2013
    Greece: New rules for minimum wage-setting and other developments

    New legislation has given the Government of Greece sole powers to set the national minimum wage. Social partners will be consulted, but in the past they have been part of a collective bargaining process. In other developments, the Association of Greek Tourism has been recognised as a social partner at national level, and the government has launched a new round of national social dialogue through the re-establishment of the national committees for employment and social security

  • 10 May 2013
    Bulgaria: Unions in Bulgaria and Romania establish interregional council

    An interregional council representing workers in Bulgaria and Romania has been created. Set up by the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria and the Romanian National Trade Union Confederation, it will now be open to other trade unions, employers’ groups and non-governmental organisations to join. The aim is to boost employment and to ensure free access to the labour markets of the two neighbouring countries through joint initiatives and measures.

  • 07 May 2013
    Greece: How austerity measures have hit jobs

    The policy of budgetary adjustment in Greece has had an enormous negative impact on the labour market. The austerity measures have meant a huge number of jobs being lost. Four years after the onset of the economic crisis, questions are being asked about the methods used to tackle the situation. Already unemployment stands at 27%, and is predicted to go higher in 2013. Meanwhile the IMF has admitted the strict austerity programme imposed on Greece was based on incorrect calculations.