Despite several encouraging signs, the social and economic situation in the European Union remains unstable. With no sign of a change of course in the austerity policies that have been pursued over the past few years, there is little cause for optimism. These at least were the main conclusions drawn from the presentation of the Benchmarking Working Europe 2016 report, held in Brussels on 19 April.
The European Commission and the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) have launched a two-year Europe-wide campaign under the banner 'Healthy Workplaces for All Ages'. The initiative, which is backed by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), focuses on the need to promote sustainable work and healthy ageing from the beginning of working life.
Every year on 28 April, the trade unions stage an event to condemn deaths caused by work. This year, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has chosen to focus on the need to adopt new health and safety laws at EU level. “Workers need better protection. New laws are needed now,” said Esther Lynch, the ETUC Confederal Secretary in charge of occupational health and safety issues.
The Belgian government is currently refining a draft reform of statutory working time that will favour an increase in flexible working. The government believes that this reform will respond to the wishes of many workers by allowing for a better balance between family and working life. Trade unions, however, fear that this flexibility will only work one way, serving first and foremost the needs and interests of business.
ETUI researcher Magdalena Bernaciak was invited to speak at the roundtable discussion on ‘Labour Mobility and Citizenship: Safeguarding Social Standards in Europe’, organised on 3 April at the European Economic and Social Committee by Solidar, a European network of NGOs dealing with labour rights and social justice.
New research has identified certain occupations and industries that may contribute to the risk of workers developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a group of related cancers affecting part of the body’s immune system.
Trade unions in central and eastern (CEE) Europe are using new approaches to attract workers and address broader societal concerns. A project with ETUI involvement takes stock of these innovative techniques.
Here are the most important developments at European and member state level from the March issue of the Collective Bargaining newsletter:
On 17 March, Roger Liddle, member of the House of Lords, was invited to speak at an ETUI Monthly Forum on the future of social Europe. The former adviser to British ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair is a co-author of the study 'The social reality of Europe after the crisis', published by the Foundation for European Progressives Studies. He issued a plea for the development of a new narrative for social Europe based on a credible economic policy programme.
The Hans Böckler Foundation’s Institute of Economic and Social Research (WSI) has just published its Annual Report on collective bargaining developments in Germany in 2015.
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