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Workers protection and electromagnetic fields: Council adopts compromise

On 4 October, EU ministers for employment and social policy reached an informal agreement (in EU-speak called a “general approach”) on the review of European legislation concerning the protection of workers exposed to electromagnetic fields. The compromise reached in the Council does not take into consideration demands from trade unions to look at the long-term effects on human health of exposure to these fields.

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Commission gives green light for financial transactions tax

Commissioner Semeta

The European Commission adopted on 23 October a proposal for a Council Decision which will allow the introduction of a financial transactions tax (FTT) in ten EU member states.

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Public services are the key to well-being society

Services provided by the public sector (e.g. health care, personal services, education, public transport etc.) are an essential solution to move to a society which prioritises well-being and quality of life for its citizens above the current quest for endless economic growth. But these same public services are not well represented in how society measures its economic progress.

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Quality of work among ageing workers: all are not equal

Older workers employed in unskilled and manual occupations and those working in certain service sectors risk suffering more from poor working conditions than other employees, according to a new study by the ETUI.

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Surprisingly critical report on European nuclear plant safety


The European Commission published a report on 3 October on the stress tests carried out in European nuclear power plants in 17 countries: the 14 EU countries with working nuclear power plants, Lithuania, where a plant is being decommissioned, Switzerland and Ukraine. The tests, done in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, cast doubt on how safe Europe’s nuclear power plants are, including in extreme circumstances. From what the report says, the situation may be more critical than plant operators imply. The Commission report shows that international standards are not being consistently implemented.

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The social case for the EU’s Financial Transaction Tax

stock market graph

On 9 October 2012, the Economic and Financial Affairs Council of the EU discussed the introduction of a comprehensive system of financial transaction taxes. Eleven EU member states expressed their support for the system through the use of the “Enhanced Cooperation Procedure” in the Lisbon Treaty. A new ETUI policy brief explains the rationale and the social arguments in favour of this new instrument to reign in the excesses of casino capitalism.

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Commission’s nanomaterials review does not ensure workers’ protection


The Second Regulatory Review on Nanomaterials published on 3 October by the European Commission aims at assessing the implementation of EU legislation for nanomaterials and respond to issues raised by the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee. In doing so, it fails to propose a consistent strategy to guarantee the protection of workers handling or in contact with nanomaterials.

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New Report: Crisis is affecting quality of jobs in Europe

The economic crisis has put into question the EU’s target to create “more and better jobs”. It is clear that since 2008, several member states have seen unemployment rising to record levels, but what about job quality? Did the crisis have an effect on the overall quality of employment in EU countries? This is the question the authors of a new ETUI working paper have tried to answer by measuring for the EU27 recent developments in six areas: wages, non-standard forms of employment, working time and work-life balance, working conditions and job security, access to training and career development, and collective interest representation.

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Transnationalisation of industry needs new union strategies

Trade unions will need to develop new multi-level and international strategies to respond to the challenges posed by the expansion of multinational companies and the growing importance of global value chains, according to Canadian Professor Gregor Murray.

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Crisis has been used to push anti-labour agenda

At the 2012 TUC Congress in Brighton, the ETUI organised a debate on the erosion of labour laws in Europe. Senior ETUI researcher Stefan Clauwaert presented the grim results of a mapping exercise on changes to labour laws in several European countries. Such reforms generally render existing labour law provisions more flexible and loosen minimum standards, shifting the emphasis to soft law (deregulation).

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