Tuesday

15th Jun 2021

Debt crisis harming industrial relations: EU report

EU austerity programmes are putting the bloc's social model under strain by isolating trade unions and employers, a report by the European Commission indicated Thursday (11 April).

Launching the 300-page report on 'Industrial relations in Europe in 2012', EU Employment Commissioner Laszlo Andor said that there was "a clear need to revitalise industrial relations across Europe" adding that co-ordinated austerity cuts had "brought a wave of industrial unrest" across Europe.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Industrial unrest has soared as a result of the economic crisis (Photo: CGTP-IN)

Andor said there was a need "to reinforce the role of social partners at all levels if we are to come out of this crisis and preserve the benefits of the European social model."

The words come as governments across Europe have cut public spending to rein in budget deficits. Bailout countries have seen the severest industrial unrest.

But the commission report found that reforms had been imposed on workers with little consultation.

Policies in Greece had been "decided unilaterally by emergency decree with virtually no attempt to involve the social partners," while consultation with workers in the likes of Spain, Italy and Portugal had been "fragile" and "tokenistic."

Greece also saw the highest number of strikes, with a total of 838 between January 2011 and April 2012 including 46 general strikes.

The troika of international lenders has increasingly been criticised for imposing stiff conditions and large public sector job cuts as part of bailout packages.

Prior to a meeting of EU leaders in March, demonstrators protested in the commission's economic and financial unit, headed by commissioner Olli Rehn.

Andor, one of the few left-wing commissioners and outspoken on the need for growth policies, maintained that there was no internal conflict between his department and that of Rehn's.

Meanwhile, the EU executive also revealed large disparities in industrial relations and trade union strength.

Workers' groups are particularly weak in central and eastern Europe. While 70 percent of workers in western member states are covered by collective wage agreements, this sinks to 44 percent in eastern Europe.

The commission noted that in Latvia and Lithuania the "weakness of organised labour has persuaded trade unions to accept austerity packages."

Trade unions 'dare' EU to hold referendum on economic pact

Angry at economic governance proposals by EU leaders that aim to push down wages, public sector unions have "dared" governments to hold referendums over a 'Competitiveness Pact' currently being hashed out behind closed doors.

Mass strikes, protests hit Italy, Spain over EU-imposed austerity

Popular anger over Europe’s strategy of austerity for exiting the eurozone crisis spread to Italy on Tuesday as the country was paralysed by a general strike. Hundreds of thousands of ordinary Italians poured into the streets of over a hundred cities and towns to protest what Brussels, Frankfurt and Berlin demand.

News in Brief

  1. BBC and others boycott Belarus press circus
  2. Report: EU and US to unveil aircraft subsidy truce
  3. Putin refuses to guarantee Navalny will survive jail
  4. Erdoğan agrees to pull out mercenaries from Libya
  5. EU starts sale of first bonds for Covid-19 recovery fund
  6. Germans told not to 'storm pharmacies' for Covid pass
  7. Indonesia warns Covid-19 wave may not peak until July
  8. WTO chief: 'drop trade barriers on Covid-19 treatments'

Opinion

Sweden's non-lockdown didn't work - why not?

The Swedish king would have been better advised to use his annual Christmas interview to call for unity of purpose and shed light on the political roots of the country's response.

Column

BioNTech: Stop talking about their 'migration background'

I understand that the German-Turkish community - often subjected to condescension in Germany - celebrated the story. Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türecki represent scientific excellence and business success at the highest level.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. China officially joins Russia as a danger to Nato
  2. German Greens face reality check amid CDU gains
  3. EU Parliament wants Europe to take lead on sea-rescues
  4. MEPs urged to end gas-funding, fix cross-border projects rules
  5. Biden in Brussels - what's in the 'in-tray'?
  6. Yemen foreign minister to EU: to stop the war, talk to Iran
  7. Brexit grumbles overshadow UK summit
  8. Former French PM to work for Russian oil firm

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us