The articles published in the latest issue of HesaMag, the ETUI half-yearly publication on occupational health, are now online. The issue contains a special feature on labour inspection in Europe.
On 11 January, Belgian employers’ and trade union organisations agreed to adopt a social agreement for 2017-2018, paving the way for a 1.1% annual wage rise on top of pay scale increases and automatic wage indexation.
The dominant view of the crisis in Europe is that it is a crisis of competitiveness, and wages are seen as the key adjustment variable to improving competitiveness through the reduction of labour costs. However, the ETUI publication ‘Wage bargaining under the new European Economic Governance’, recently updated and translated into German, comes up with a different diagnosis of the causes of the crisis and proposes alternative strategies.
On 10 January, the European Commission published its second draft of the revised Directive on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens or mutagens at work. The omission of diesel engine exhaust from this draft has prompted criticism by the European trade union movement.
Here are the most important developments at European and member state level from the last issue of the Collective Bargaining newsletter for 2016:
The year 2015 saw an influx of almost 1.3 million asylum seekers into Europe, representing a historic challenge for the reception and asylum systems of EU Member States. Access to the labour market is of central importance for the integration of refugees into our societies and economies; this was the main point highlighted during the presentation of a recent report by the German Bertelsmann Foundation at an ETUI lunch debate on 8 December.
Dr Jukka Takala, a world expert on work-related cancer, considers it necessary to establish a global programme for eliminating carcinogens in the workplace. ‘Cancer is the primary cause of death in the workplace,’ he stated on 16 December 2016 at an ETUI monthly forum.
If they are to use substances ‘of very high concern’, for instance because they cause cancer, manufacturers must first obtain authorisations, in accordance with the REACH Regulation on the trade in chemical substances in the European Union. According to Tony Musu, an expert in chemical hazards at the ETUI, some application files for authorisation examined by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) do not meet the legislative requirements.
On 14 September, a network of European and North American labour unions and worker organisations called for transnational cooperation to ensure fair working conditions on digital labour platforms (such as clickworker, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Jovoto and Uber).
In a report published on 5 December entitled ‘Pensions Outlook 2016’, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recommends that public-sector and private-sector pension schemes be aligned and calls for increased use of funded pension arrangements.
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