Jun. 20, 2019 The latest issue of the Collective Bargaining Newsletter produced by the European Trade Union Institute includes over 70 articles covering developments in over 30 countries. Among the more interesting this month are moves to a four-day week in Austria, action by outsourced workers in Cyprus, strikes by ambulance staff in Ireland, action by nursery workers in Spain and pay offers from Glasgow City Council in Scotland to resolve the equal pay dispute there.
Jun. 20, 2019 A survey of European wage developments by the Hans Böckler research organisation finds an upward trend since 2017, with the highest increases recorded in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Overall real wage increases across Europe averaged 0.9% in 2018, twice the level of 2017 and the figure so far for the current year is at 1.0%. The median increase in the 11 countries of North and West Europe was 0.6% in 2018, rising to 1.1% so far this year, contrasting with the higher figures for CEE countries of 5.2% in 2018 and 3.7% in 2019. The six countries in Southern Europe registered lower increases - a median of 0.2% in 2018 and 1.0% so far in 2019.
May. 29, 2019 The SUEPO trade union, representing staff at the European Patent Office (EPO), says that it will take strike action in June unless management responds to a series of key demands on fair pay and fair treatment of workers. There had been a very difficult industrial relations climate at EPO for some time but with the appointment of a new president last year there was some hope for an improvement. However, a recent staff survey reveals continuing problems and more or less a continuation of the hardline management of the old regime. A ballot for strike action will have to take place by the middle of June for a strike to take place at the end of June to coincide with the EPO administrative council.
May. 29, 2019 A new report from the Eurofound research agency, based on the European Working Conditions Survey, reveals key factors influencing health and well-being at work. While regulations on working time are important in restricting excessive hours, the report warns that work intensity and flexibility also need to be addressed. It also says that working arrangements are an important element and that more job control can help improve well-being along with the basic factors that demonstrate a recognition of a worker's skills and commitment, including pay, career prospects and job security.
May. 29, 2019 A working paper from the European Trade Union Institute, written by former European Commission official Jean-Paul Tricart, puts the spotlight on the way that the current Commission has followed its predecessor in moving away from a 20-year approach in support of social dialogue. While launching a process aimed ostensibly at the strengthening the social dialogue, the report argues that the current Commission has chosen "at will those outcomes of social dialogue that it would promote and those that it would not, and even those that it would go all out to discourage, lampoon or oppose." This leaves open the debate "as regards the legitimacy of the selective, restrictive approach."
May. 28, 2019 A new analysis covering wage and productivity developments in 25 EU countries indicates that pay for most workers has not risen in line with productivity. The report says that there is still a clear link between wages and productivity in most countries and that the trend has been for the two to be more in alignment in recent years. However, this development has yet to compensate fully for the 25-year period up to 1994 when wages lagged behind productivity.
May. 16, 2019 On 14 May the European Court of Justice (ECJ) issued an important ruling that effectively requires Member States to establish rules for employers to record their employees' working time. In a case about overtime brought against Deutsche Bank by the FS-CCOO services federation in Spain, the ECJ stated that workers' rights to protection as afforded by the Working Time Directive cannot be properly ensured unless there is an objective measure of their working hours. The Court said it is up to Member States how they ensure that employers comply with the ruling.
May. 02, 2019 The Eurofound research agency has published a new report that looks at the rules on rest breaks at work across Europe. These cover both legislation and the kinds of rules included in collective agreements. The report finds considerable variety with different approaches to whether breaks are paid or unpaid and whether or not they are included in working time. The overview includes information on rules for specific categories of workers such as pregnant women, young workers and those employed in arduous occupations. While not a major area of legal dispute, the report highlights some recent court cases which tend to focus on the question of pay. There is a section on the health implications of having or not having proper breaks as well as the impact on performance and productivity.
May. 01, 2019 EPSU is running a series of training seminars this year and next to provide support for affiliates who are facing up to the challenges of digitalisation. The five regional seminars will be open to all EPSU affiliates with a focus on participants who are involved in collective bargaining. The first seminar will take place in Bucharest on 24-25 September, followed by one in Lisbon on 19-20 November. Further details (in 19 languages) of the training project which is receiving financial support from the European Commission can be found on the EPSU website. The invitations to the first seminar will be sent out in June.
May. 01, 2019 On 29 April EPSU signed a landmark agreement with the French-based Korian social care multinational to set up a European works council (EWC). The agreement comes two years after EPSU took the initiative to bring together affiliates that organise in the company to form a network with a view to establishing an EWC. EPSU believes this is an important step in improving information and consultation in the company and sets the standard for other multinationals in the fast-growing social care sector.
May. 01, 2019 The latest issue of the Journal of International Trade Union Rights features a number of articles examining the extent to which public service workers find their rights restricted in relation to organising, collective bargaining or the right to take collective action. Nadja Salson of EPSU contributed an article highlighting two developments. First, is EPSU's legal action against the European Commission over its failure to put forward the information and consultation agreement in central government to the European Council for transposition into a directive and the second is the loophole in the Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions Directive that allows Member States to exclude public service workers from its provisions. The journal also includes an article based on the right to strike factsheets covering 34 countries and produced for EPSU by the European Trade Union Institute.
Apr. 16, 2019 The latest labour cost figures published by the Eurostat agency show that the highest increases were recorded in Eastern Europe but where average costs remain the lowest across the European Union. There were double-digit increases in Romania, Latvia and Lithuania with Hungary not far behind at just under 10%. Average hourly labour costs in Europe range from 5.40 in Bulgaria to 43.5 in Denmark with the average at 27.4 in the European Union and 30.6 in the Eurozone. The data excludes agriculture and public administration.
Apr. 16, 2019 The ETUC has published a report examining legal issues arising from new forms of employment. It hopes that it will make an important contribution to the debate around what action to take to provide protection for workers who fall outside the normal framework of labour and social legislation. The legal experts who compiled the report included a proposal for a new “personal work relation” that might help tackle these issues.
Mar. 28, 2019 The 2019 edition of Benchmarking Europe, published by the European Trade Union Institute, reveals the continuing impact of austerity with data showing that workers in eight countries are, on average, worse off in real terms than they were 10 years ago. The eight countries are Greece, Croatia, Cyprus, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Hungary and the UK. In a further two countries - Finland and Belgium - average wages are at the same level as 10 years ago, taking account of inflation.