Euro news: Commission invites comment on local employment initiatives

The European Commission’s contribution to the debate on effective job creation and maintenance at local level has been launched with its communication, “Acting Locally for Employment – a Local Dimension for European Employment Strategy”. Summarising developments which have lead member states and the EU to turn more to the local level for job growth, the communication invites opinions from local authorities, businesses, the voluntary sector/social economy, social partners, public employment services, national governments and, of course, the EU itself. Information is available from and written comments on the issues raised should be sent by 31 October.

Euro agenda to watch for

Social Affairs Commissioner Anna Diamontopoulou is preparing a new social policy agenda for the next three to five years was launched last week. Outlining the commissioner’s objectives in the social policy arena, this umbrella document is expected to link conclusions of the Lisbon Summit in March, on a Europe based on innovation and knowledge with objectives covering traditional industries.

• A new employment package, including long-awaited proposals on reform of social protection, is expected in September.

• Social partners have agreed to negotiate a framework agreement on temporary work.

This agreement will complement the two existing framework agreements on atypical work:

• Framework agreement on part-time work, signed in June 1996.

• Framework agreement on fixed-term contracts signed March 1999.

Social partners include organisations such as:

UEAPME Small- and medium-sized enterprises

CEEP European Centre of Enterprise with Public Participation

ETUC European Trade Union Confederation

UNICE Union of Industrial and Employer’s Confederations of Europe.

European works council update

• Companies affected by the European Works Council directive have wrestled to create a workable EWC structure that fits within the corporate culture and current communication process, while meeting the requirements of the directive and being acceptable to employees. They will be relieved to learn that the threat of an imminent review of the directive has been lifted.

The commission’s decision, based on the results of a recent study, reflects its policy of working to encourage the adoption of good practice. The study by the European Foundation for the Improvement in Living and Working Conditions (EFILWC) has shown that workers and employers across the EU are understanding each other better. This study, Negotiating EWC’s under the Directive: a comparative analysis of Article 6 and Article 13 agreements, was written by Paul Marginson of Warwick University and Mark Carley, chief editor of the foundation’s European Industrial Relations Observatory (EIRO).

The study reflects a better understanding of EWC, there is concern at union level that the consultation does not include the right of employees to be consulted before decision-making. It is still new ground for many companies and internal and external evaluation of the process continues. Perhaps this is one of the situations where practice makes perfect.

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