The 2015 edition of the annual ETUC/ETUI Benchmarking Working Europe report was presented on 20 March in Brussels. This year the ETUI chose to focus this presentation of its updated inventory of the European labour situation on three aspects covered by the European Commission’s Annual Growth Survey: the investment plan, budgetary responsibility, and structural reforms.
On 12 March, the IUF, an international federation of trade unions representing workers employed in the preparation and manufacture of food and beverages, published policy recommendations on the increasing use of nanomaterials by food-related industries.
Greece has shown how to defy the prevailing European consensus on austerity, offering hope of a better, fairer future, according to economist James Galbraith. Galbraith, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and informal economic advisor to Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, told an ETUI conference on alternatives to austerity in Brussels on March 20 that Greece could spur change across Europe.
Gender equality has been central to the European integration project from the outset. But is concern for this goal becoming purely symbolic and devoid of real effects? As described by Sophie Jacquot, a researcher at Sciences Po Paris, the last ten years or so have seen a slow but steady process of dismantling of the European project designed to ensure equality between men and women.
The Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftliche Institut (WSI) within the Hans-Böckler-Stiftung based in Düsseldorf, Germany has updated its Minimum Wage Database which is available in German and English.. The WSI Minimum Wage Database provides an overview of the development and current levels of minimum wages in 30 countries, including all 22 EU Member States which have a statutory minimum wage. This makes the WSI Minimum Wage Database one of the most comprehensive cross-nationally comparative sources of information on minimum wages.
Christos Triantafillou, an economist at the Labour Institute of the General Confederation of Greek Workers (INE-GSEE), offered – at a lunchtime debate organised by the ETUI on 25 February – an analysis of the prospects opened up by the recent political changes in his country.
The conference on women’s health and work, organised by the ETUI from 4 to 6 March in Brussels, showed that a situation of equal rights for men and women in the workplace is very far from having been achieved. A serious obstacle on the road to such equality is the invisibility of the specific risks to which working women are exposed and that stem frequently from work organisation methods. The deeply entrenched nature of sexual segregation on the labour market and of sexist stereotypes serves to reinforce the status quo.
On 5 March, researchers from the New York University School of Medicine disclosed a study concluding that endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are associated with an increased risk of serious health problems costing at least 157 billion euros per year in Europe alone.
The Collective Bargaining newsletter presents the most important developments at European and Member States levels on a monthly basis. Here are the key issues of the past month:
"Despite a very broad picture of scepticism, most unions are embedded in discussions in relation with CSR", declared Chris Rees, a researcher at the Royal Holloway University of London who has recently, with two colleagues from the same university, written a book on trade union attitudes and approaches to the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR). The principal results of this research, conducted between 2011 and 2013 in eleven EU countries, were presented on 24 February last at an ETUI Monthly Forum.
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