Danes the happiest EU workers, survey finds
By Benjamin Fox
Denmark has the EU's happiest workforce, according to research published Thursday (25 April) by Eurobarometer.
Ninety-four percent of Danish workers are satisfied with their own conditions at work, the survey found, closely followed by Austrians and Belgians.
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Meanwhile, more than 80 percent of respondents in Denmark, Luxembourg, Finland and The Netherlands consider working conditions in their country to be good.
At the other end of the scale, Greece is the only country among the European Union's 28 member states where fewer than half of its workers describe themselves as happy with working conditions.
After four years of stiff austerity policies that have seen unemployment rise to one in four Greeks, a mere 16 percent felt their country was a good place to work. Only 38 percent were happy with their own conditions, the survey found.
Although 77 percent of workers expressed satisfaction with their personal working conditions, when asked whether they thought that working conditions were good in their country the figure fell to just over one in two.
Meanwhile, nearly six out of ten said their working conditions had become worse in the past five years, as a result of rising unemployment and a squeeze on wages across the EU.
With the EU economy set for a period of sluggish growth following its double-dip recession, Europeans face having to work longer hours for lower pay, particularly in the bloc's crisis countries.
Data released last year by Eurostat reported an average pay decline, taking account of price inflation, of 0.7 percent since 2010, with Greece suffering a 4.6 percent average pay cut and Italian workers a 2.2 percent drop.
"We have a remarkable heritage of law and policies to ensure good working conditions that allow for high levels of satisfaction among European workers," EU employment commissioner Laszlo Andor said.
"But there is a fear also, and a real risk, that working conditions will suffer in the wake of the economic crisis."
But the research suggests that most European workers enjoy the workplace rights set out in EU law. Nine out of ten get at least four weeks of paid holidays per year, while most others reported having some flexibility in their working hours.