Collective Bargaining Newsletter - Year 2, No. 2 – February 2009

(Also in PDF: Collective Bargaining Newsletter - February 2009, 130 kB)

AUSTRIA

Vienna shows way to better conditions

3.7% increase for private energy sector

BELGIUM

Union confederation satisfied with national agreement results

CZECH REPUBLIC

Government offer for repatriation

ESTONIA

Introduction of new Employment Contracts Act criticized

FINLAND

Unions would prefer short-time arrangements

Pilots’ union refuses settlement

FRANCE

Union mobilisation for day of action in March

GERMANY

International protest at Bosch Brakes

First collective agreement with hospital group

Unions reject regional employers’ offer

Berlin raise teacher salaries by almost half

HUNGARY

Unions lukewarm on government tax plan

IRELAND

Massive turnout for union demonstration

Social pact talks hampered by pension proposals

ITALY

Joint strike against precarious work

NETHERLANDS

Union prepares for provincial negotiations

Minister decides for one childcare agreement

Short-time support extended again

NORWAY

High pay increase for managers

POLAND

Gas firm rejects union demand

Oil concern and local union agree on savings

PORTUGAL

Energy negotiations enter sixth stage

SLOVAKIA

Government and unions agree on wage moderation

SLOVENIA

Austerity agreement in public sector

SPAIN

Campaign for early retirement of police officers

French solidarity with Spanish Renault workers

UNITED KINGDOM

Journalists ballot for strikes

Union uses PM’s petition system to highlight bargaining deadlock

Printing industry talks fail


FOR MORE INFORMATION

 

Austria

Vienna shows way to better conditions

February 4, 2009

The GDG local government union believes that improved conditions for civil servants working for the Vienna municipality provide a model that should be followed by regional governments across the country. The union argues that civil servants now benefit from a range of new provisions including an seventh week of paid leave for older workers, updated rules on working time and several measures that improve health and safety and the working environment. The GDG has also reacted strongly to recent accusations about the high levels of early retirement pensions being paid out by the Vienna municipality. The union made clear that early retirement pensions were paid out on the basis of medical reports and the level reflected the impact of onerous jobs on many of those working for the authority. The GDG also pointed out that levels of early retirement were lower in other municipalities because many services had been outsourced.

English: http://www.epsu.org/cob/285; German:

http://www.gdg.at/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=C01/Page/
Index&n=C01_0.b.a&cid=1232539991176

http://www.gdg.at/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=C01/Page/
Index&n=C01_0.b.a&cid=1232540019658

3.7% increase for private energy sector

February 23, 2009

Negotiations in the private energy industry were concluded with workers getting at least a 3.7% increase for the year 2009 from 1 February. The lowest paid workers in grades I and II will get 3.8%, while those in grades III to M I will get 3.75% and those in the top two grades will get 3.7% increase. These are improvements on the employers’ previous offer of 3.5%/3.6%. Allowances will also increase by 3.7% and there is an agreement to set up a working group to look into working time flexibility.

English: http://www.epsu.org/cob/285 ; http://www.epsu.org/cob/287

German: http://www.gpa-djp.at/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=GPA/Page/
Index&n=GPA_0.a&cid=1233605877011

 

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Belgium

Union confederation satisfied with national agreement results

February 20, 2009

In a press release, the ABVV/FGTB confederation states to be satisfied with what has been reached in the national agreement (interprofessional accord, IPA) for 2009-2010, at the occasion of the National Labour Council agreeing with the rules of execution of three IPA dossiers. From 1 February on, employers will reimburse travel costs to a maximum of 75%, instead of 60%; the so-called bridge pension will be prolonged, so that employees with a career of 40 years (or 20 years of night shifts) can retire on the age of 56; employees are entitled in their collective agreement to include a tax freedom for ecological products of maximum Euro 125 in 2009 and Euro 250 in 2010 (See also this Collective Bargaining Newsletter Year 1, No. 10).

Dutch: http://www.fgtb.be/CODE/nl/fram004.htm

French: http://www.fgtb.be/code/fr/fram004.htm

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Czech Republic

Government offer for repatriation

February 17, 2009

Authorities of the Czech Republic have adopted a novel approach in dealing with migrant workers who have lost their jobs in construction and other sectors, and want to return home. In mid-February, Czech officials offered free air tickets and Euro 500 in cash to jobless migrants to allow them to repatriate. According to local media, the country hosts nearly 300,000 officially registered migrant workers, of which a substantial part working in construction.

English: http://www.rferl.org/content/Ukrainian_Workers_Unconvinced_
By_Czech_Repatriation_Offer/1496121.html

via http://www.labourstart.org/cgi-bin/show_news.pl?country=Czech+Republic

 

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Estonia

Introduction of new Employment Contracts Act criticized

February 3, 2009

On 17 December 2008, the Estonian parliament passed the new Employment Contracts Act, which will take effect from 1 July 2009. Initially, it had been planned that the act would enter into force in 2010. However, due to the rapid changes in the labour market and expected further economic decline, the parliament decided to bring the date forward. It made the decision despite opposition from the trade unions, which expressed concerns regarding the timing of the adjustment. A number of political parties also criticised the move. The new law provides higher unemployment benefits (70% of the previous wage during 100 days, instead of 50%), but also dismissal procedures eased for employers, while the conclusion of fixed-term contracts will be allowed in all cases. Some of the act’s provisions requiring significant additional expenses from the state budget are still due to take effect on 1 January 2010, like raising the flat rate of unemployment allowance up to 50% of the national minimum wage of the previous year instead of the current monthly level of about EEK 1,000 (Euro 64).

English: http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/eiro/2009/01/articles/ee0901019i.htm

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Finland

Unions would prefer short-time arrangements

February 22, 2009

Though the country has a system of temporary lay-offs in place to avoid outright redundancies, the Finnish trade unions would prefer a short-time arrangement like the German “Kurzarbeit” system (See this Collective Bargaining Newsletter, Year 1 No. 10). The unions point out that when it comes to employees’ mental well-being, a shortened working week would be a better alternative, as it is stressful to see your team breaking up in case of a temporary lay-off. Ralf Sund , an adviser at the Finnish Confederation of Professionals (STTK), said that all possible ways should be used in order to maintain some kind of connection to working life. Pertti Parmanne , director of the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK), pointed out that shortened weekly working hours used to be more common in the past.

English: http://www.hs.fi/english/article/Finnish+trade+unions+would+prefer+shortened+
working+hours+to+lay-offs+/1135243693734

Pilots’ union refuses settlement

February 22, 2009

Finnish Air Line Pilots' Association (SLL), representing Finnair pilots, on 22 February rejected a proposal by the State Labour Conciliator aimed at settling job disputes. However, talks between both parties will continue, which means that no strike action will be immediately undertaken. Pilots had threatened to begin a series of one-day work stoppages as of 25 February. The pilots and Finnair are at odds over pensions, the use of contract labour, days off and staffing levels on flights. Progress was reported on all issues except the use of contract labour and pension terms.

English: http://www.yle.fi/uutiset/news/2009/02/pilots_union_rejects_
settlement_proposal_563760.html via

http://www.labourstart.org/cgi-bin/show_news.pl?country=Finland

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France

Union mobilisation for day of action in March

February 23, 2009

Following the widespread support for the public and private sector national day of action on 29 January, with an estimated 2.5 million demonstrators, the eight trade union confederations involved are planning another nationwide mobilisation on 19 March. The government response to 29 January produced nothing concrete for the public sector federations. The federations have reiterated their key demands: 1. end the policy of job cuts and stop those currently planned under the 2009 budget; 2. increase public sector pay and reform the pay structure to improve the career prospects of public sector workers; 3. withdraw any plans for relocating or closing local services that have a serious impact on staff as well as local service users; 4. provide the financial resources to maintain services instead of imposing austerity measures on central government, local and regional government and the health service. The federations supporting the action are CFDT, CFTC, CFE-CGC, CGT, FO, FSE, Solidaires, and UNSA.

English: http://www.epsu.org/cob/287

French: http://www.spterritoriaux.cgt.fr/spip.php?article3036

http://www.spterritoriaux.cgt.fr/spip.php?article3035

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Germany

International protest at Bosch Brakes

February 17, 2009

On 16 February, in the framework of a European action day organised by the various metalworkers’ unions, simultaneous protest actions took place at the production sites of the Brakes division of the Germany-based Bosch Group, in France (Angers, Pont de l’tatt and Breidenbach). The workers are deeply concerned about the future of their jobs, and are demanding a clear strategy for the industrial activities. Peter Scherrer, General secretary of the European Metalworkers’ Federation (EMF), stated: The workers and their representatives demand to be fully involved in any further developments and in the decision-making process within their division. This requires fully functional dialogue structures both at national and European level and it is to emphasize these demands that the workers have organised this European action day."

English: http://www.emf-fem.org/Press/Press-releases/Bosch-European
-action-day-on-16th-February

First collective agreement with hospital group

February 4, 2009

At the end of January services union ver.di signed the first company collective agreement with Sana Kliniken, a group of hospitals. The agreement covers around 6,000 employees and the union declared that it will mean that future pay and working conditions will be more transparent and can be assessed in terms of equal opportunities. The agreement will run for 24 months. Ver.di said that it will not only mean a substantial pay increase for many employees but that those with young children will be helped out with a Euro 100-a-month contribution to childcare costs.

English: http://www.epsu.org/cob/285

German: http://presse.verdi.de/pressemitteilungen/showNews?id=
fd9f5212-eead-11dd-4d2f-0019b9e321cd

Unions reject regional employers’ offer

February 23, 2009

The third round of negotiations between unions and employers in regional government failed to produce any progress, with the ver.di union categorically rejecting the employers’ 4.2% pay offer. The increase was only to have been implemented in July 2009 % and the employers want a two-year agreement. Ver.di said this effectively meant 18 months of no pay increase. The union wants an 8% pay increase with a minimum rise of Euro 200 a month, arguing that regional government workers’ pay has fallen behind after years of below-inflation increases or no increases at all. Ver.di will call for a continuation of warning strike activity in the lead up to the next round of negotiations on 28 February.(See also this Collective Bargaining Newsletter Year 2 No. 1).

English: http://www.epsu.org/cob/285; http://www.epsu.org/cob/287

German: http://presse.verdi.de/aktuelle-themen/tarifrunde_2009_laender

Berlin raise teacher salaries by almost half

February 17, 2009

In a bid to keep nearly Berlin’s 30,000 teachers from escaping to higher paid jobs in other cities, the city-state government has decided to increase their salaries by almost 50%. “It is a step that costs a lot of money,” Berlin’s Mayor Klaus Wowereit said, referring to the Euro 30 million in additional cost per year stemming from the salary increases and an additional 1,900 positions for teaching staff in the city. The average wage for a newly employed teacher in Berlin was Euro 2,600 a month, but starting from August 2009 it will be almost Euro 3,900. Despite the salary increase, Berlin teaching salaries will remain well below those in other parts of Germany.

English: http://www.thelocal.de/society/20090219-17535.html

German: http://www.tagesspiegel.de/berlin/Landespolitik-Bildung-
Lehrer-Gehaelter;art124,2732794

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Hungary

Unions lukewarm on government tax plan

February 19, 2009

The National Association of Trade Unions (MSZOSZ) said on 18 February it would initiate talks with Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany on several aspects of his tax plans. Peter Pataky, President of MSZOSZ, said that the unions did not support the idea of scrapping a 4% extra tax on annual incomes of 7 million forints (Euro 23,300) and more. The union federation also objects plans to cut payroll taxes paid by employers rather than workers' contributions. Further, it rejects the proposal to make bonuses such as meal tickets or travel contributions subject to tax. Raising value-added tax on all items, including food, affects the poorest, Pataky continued, outlining MSZOSZ’s final objection.

English: http://www.realdeal.hu/20090219/unions-lukewarm-on-tax-
plan-seek-talks-with-govt via

http://www.labourstart.org/cgi-bin/show_news.pl?country=Hungary

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Ireland

Massive turnout for union demonstration

February 23, 2009

Around 200,000 people joined the national demonstration in Dublin on Saturday 21 February organised by the ICTU union confederation in protest at the government’s handling of the economic crisis. A particular focus of trade union anger has been the decision to impose a pensions levy on public sector workers that will cost them between Euro 1,500 and Euro 2,800 a year. The previous weekend had seen the IMPACT public service union co-ordinate lobbying of TDs (Members of Parliament) across the country.

English: http://www.epsu.org/cob/287; http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7903518.stm

http://www.impact.ie/iopen24/newsdesk_info.php?newsdesk_id=201

Social pact talks hampered by pension proposals

February 25, 2009

Talks between the social partners broke down in late January over government proposals to introduce large increases in pensions contributions and other payments for public service workers. The IMPACT union has acknowledged the need for measures to help the country out of the economic crisis but is angry that such high increases are being imposed on workers without any specific proposals for employers will do. The union also points out that the payments will impact on lower and higher paid workers with some higher paid workers facing a smaller increase in pension contributions because of higher tax relief. Lately, the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowan ruled out an early return to social partnership talks despite the ITUC union confederation’s threat of a massive national strike in March. He stated to remain firm on the introduction of the controversial pension proposal.

English: http://www.impact.ie/iopen24/newsdesk_info.php?newsdesk_id=197

http://www1.96fm.ie/news/detail.asp?type=news&article_id=94260&pt=n

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Italy

Joint strike against precarious work

February 23, 2009

The FIOM metalworkers’ and FP public sector federations of the CGIL trade union confederation came together on 13 February in a national strike and demonstration over precarious work, low pay and government attacks on employment rights. The unions estimate that around 700,000 people joined the national demonstration. FP-CGIL rejected the government’s claim that the strike was only supported by 6% of public sector workers. (See also this Collective Bargaining Newsletter Year 2 No. 1).

English: http://www.epsu.org/cob/287

Italian: http://www.unitanticrisi.it/cms/

http://www.fpcgil.it/flex/cm/pages/ServeBLOB.php/L/IT/IDPagina/9547

http://www.fpcgil.it/flex/cm/pages/ServeBLOB.php/L/IT/IDPagina/9580

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Netherlands

Union prepares for provincial negotiations

February 23, 2009

The collective agreement covering provincial (regional) authorities runs until June this year and public services union AbvaKabo FNV has carried out a survey to find out what workers see as the priorities for the forthcoming negotiations. A basic pay increase proved to be top of the agenda, but provincial government employees are also concerned about their workloads and the impact of restructuring. Next, they would like to see improvements in training, competence development and career progression and finally a decent pension.

English: http://www.epsu.org/cob/287

Dutch: http://www.abvakabofnv.nl/cao/bericht/inzetten_op_
structurele_salarisverhoging/

Minister decides for one childcare agreement

February 23, 2009

Public services union AbvaKabo FNV is pleased that the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment has ruled that the childcare collective agreement should be made generally binding. The agreement covered 80% of workers in the sector and was negotiated with the Mogroep employers’ organisation. The smaller BKN employers’ association had argued that it should not be covered by the agreement, but was overruled by the Ministry. The extension of the agreement will mean higher pay and longer holidays for many employees of BKN companies.

English: http://www.epsu.org/cob/287

Dutch: http://www.abvakabofnv.nl/cao/bericht/bkn_wel_onder_cao_kinderopvang/

Short-time support extended again

February 234, 2009

Till mid-February, 470 companies were allowed to use the official short-time support arrangement, mostly from the metal, chemical and construction industries. On 24 January, the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment, Piet Hein Donner, announced that a further extension in the deadline for applications to this arrangement, from 1 March till the end of March. Again, the minister said to accept that the costs involved would go over the former limit of Euro 200 million, especially in view of the need for companies to retain and train skilled workers. It is broadly expected that in mid-March social partners will draw up a social accord, which is supposed to open the door for more in-depth measures. Most likely the government will introduce a system of part-time unemployment benefits by then. The minister used the occasion to criticize the employers’ side for actually dismissing occupationally disabled more than proportionally (See also this Collective Bargaining Newsletter Year 1 No. 10 and Year 2 No. 1).

Dutch: information Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment

http://www.refdag.nl/artikel/1393838/Werktijdverkorting+verlengd.html

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Norway

High pay increase for managers

February 16, 2009

In 2008 before-tax wage increases ay growth in Norway mostly varied between 4.4 and 6.5% in the major bargaining areas: the highest rise since 1998. High bonus payments in the banking and financial services led to pay growth here as high as 9.2% in 2008.Average wage growth from 2007 to 2008 is estimated at 6%, according to the most recent figures from the Norwegian Technical Calculation Committee for Wage Settlements. Growth in executive pay in 2008 was consistently higher than for wage earners in general. For managing directors and others with managerial functions in the financial industry, it averaged 28.6%; in this figure bonuses are included, but not options and benefits in kind. Real pay for wage earners increased by on average only 2.0% in 2008, much lower than 2007 (4.5%). The decrease is largely related to considerably higher price increases in 2008.

English: http://www.norwaypost.no/content/view/21646/1/ via

http://www.labourstart.org/cgi-bin/show_news.pl?country=Norway

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Poland

Gas firm rejects union demand

February 23, 2009

On 23 February, gas monopolist PGNiG PGNI.WA stated to have rejected trade unions’ demand for an 11% pay increase in 2009, of which 5.5% to be paid in the first half of the year, "Taking into account the economic situation in Poland and the financial situation of the company.” The unions in turn have decided to start a collective dispute with the company, a first step towards a potential strike.

English: http://www.reuters.com/article/rbssIntegratedOilGas/idUSLN71379020090223

Oil concern and local union agree on savings

February 1123, 2009

On 11 February, the management of oil concern Lotos and the companies’ trade union came to an agreement and signed an anti-crisis plan that is expected to bring the company savings of PLN 340 million (Euro 73 million). “The plan will will help stabilize financial liquidity and maintain workplaces for the employees of the whole group," said Grzegorz Szade, member of the employee council in the Lotos Group. According to the plan, the company will save Euro 30 million on administrative issues and blocking all kinds of wage increases, as well as Euro 43 million by cuts in planned investments.

English: http://www.reuters.com/article/rbssIntegratedOilGas/idUSLN71379020090223 via

http://www.labourstart.org/cgi-bin/show_news.pl?country=Poland

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Portugal

Energy negotiations enter sixth stage

February 23, 2009

The SINDEL energy trade union will resume negotiations with the EDP and REN energy companies this week after five bargaining rounds. The companies’ latest offer of 1.5% or 2% depending on salary level still falls short of the union’s demand for a 3.6% increase for all workers. However, it is an improvement on the previous offer, that would have seen a pay freeze for some workers and increases of 1.2% or 1.6% for others.

English: http://www.epsu.org/cob/287

Portuguese: http://www.sindel.pt/edpTS2009.pdf

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Slovakia

Government and unions agree on wage moderation

February 7, 2009

The Slovak government and representatives of the Trade Union Confederation (KOZ) on 6 February agreed basically to limit wage demands as part of attempts to save jobs threatened by the global crisis, according to Prime Minister Robert Fico. Fico said trade unions had promised they would only negotiate for wage increases not exceeding productivity growth. Moreover, the unions accepted a temporary increase of state allowances that was introduced at the beginning of 2009 and raises the incomes of people with salaries around the minimum-wage level. Earlier, the unions showed reservations towards this measure for a long term, claiming that it might weaken the institution of the minimum wage.

English:

http://www.forexpros.com/news/financial-news/slovak-govt,-unions-
agree-to-cap-wage-hike-demands-27381

http://www.tasr.sk/30.axd?k=20090206TBB00306

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Slovenia

Austerity agreement in public sector

February 24, 2009

On 24 February, Public Administration Minister Irma Pavlinic-Krebs and Finance Minister Franc Krizanic with representatives of 23 public sector trade unions signed an austerity pay agreement, under which the growth of wages in the sector envisaged for 2009 will be reduced from 9.9% to 7.1%. This deal was “prompted by the crisis”, as both parties explained to the press.

English: http://www.sta.si/en/vest.php?s=a&id=1367087

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Spain

Campaign for early retirement of police officers

February 4, 2009

The FSAP-CCOO, FSP-UGT and CSIF public service federations have launched a campaign to secure early retirement rights for police officers employed by local authorities and the autonomous regions. The unions argue that early retirement will contribute to ensuring a good quality service and allow for increased recruitment of younger workers into the police service. Last year the unions were finally successful in their campaign for an early retirement provision of firefighters.

English: http://www.epsu.org/cob/285

Spanish: http://www.fsap.ccoo.es/webfsap/menu.do?Actualidad:Sindical:Actualidad:48365

French solidarity with Spanish Renault workers

February 12, 2009

On 12 February, in connection with the official announcement of the 2008 results of the Renault Group, Spanish workers from Renault Valladolid demonstrated in Paris. They were strongly supported by the French trade unions from Renault. The announcements by French President Sarkozy, together with the decisions taken by the French management to transfer production programmes between the sites of Valladolid and Flins (F) and Sandouville (F), raise heavy doubts as to the future of jobs in Valladolid. The European Works Council (EWC) of Renault supports the position of the Spanish workers, underlining that the different production sites must not be played off against each other. The EWC is calling for an even playing field approach for all sites, and points out that the region of Valladolid is already hard-hit by high unemployment. Peter Scherrer, the General Secretary of the European Metalworkers’ Federation (EMF), has called for a global approach to costs, not focusing on labour costs - given the very small part represented by wages in the price of a car - but taking a better balance of production sites into account.

English: http://www.emf-fem.org/Press/Press-releases/Solidarity-with-Spanish-
Renault-workers-demonstration-in-Paris

Spanish: http://www.eldiadevalladolid.com/noticia.cfm/Local/20090120/manifestacion/dia/12/
paris/ere/renault/F0770B7A-1A64-968D-59107F98C638E5A3

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United Kingdom

Journalists ballot for strikes

February 25, 2009

Journalists across Britain and Ireland are stepping up the battle against redundancies with hundreds taking industrial action and thousands being balloted to join in.Voting papers are being sent to the National Union of Journalists’ (NUJ’s) nearly 4,000 members at the BBC after the corporation announced compulsory redundancies in Scotland. And journalists at neighbouring Shropshire Newspapers and Staffordshire Newspapers have backed industrial action over cutbacks by big margins in secret ballots.

English: http://www.nuj.org.uk/innerPagenuj.html?docid=1130

Union uses PM’s petition system to highlight bargaining deadlock

February 23, 2009

Prospect, the union representing staff across the museums sector, has set up a petition via the Prime Minister’s petition system to raise its concerns at the breakdown of industrial relations at the National Science Museum. Prospect members took industrial action over a below-inflation pay offer but a two-year deal has been imposed on museum employees. This means that some points on the Museum’s pay scale have been frozen for up to four years.

English: http://www.prospect.org.uk/news/newsstory.php?news=563

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/nmsipay/

Printing industry talks fail

February 23, 2009

The BPIF, the British Printing Industries Federation, and the Unite trade union have failed to agree on a National Agreement for 2009. BPIF has claimed Unite's wage demands were "irresponsible and unaffordable". The annual National Agreement pay review is usually agreed between the two parties and results in a proposed pay increase across the three classes of workers in the print industry. However, BPIF said that due to the "unprecedented deterioration" in trading conditions, it was only able to offer a UKP 1.84 (Euro 2.06) a week increase on the national minimum grade rate for Craft/Class 1 workers, an increase Unite termed "unacceptable". In a statement, Unite said: "The BPIF finally made what [it] described as 'a token offer', however this was conditional on Unite accepting full cost recovery and 'a strong inability to pay clause'." The statement added that the union had "done all it can during this difficult time to support for the printing industry wherever possible.”

English: http://www.printweek.com/news/883121/BPIF-Unite-fail-agree-National- via

http://www.uniglobalunion.org/unigraphical.nsf/527af848b17f3b51c125689b00418df6/
096272c076f41832c12575640047515e?OpenDocument

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FOR MORE INFORMATION

For more information, please contact the editor Maarten van Klaveren, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies (AIAS) M.vanKlaveren@uva.nl , or the communications officer of the ETUI Tristan Macdonald tmacdonald@etui.org .

You may find further information on the ETUI at www.etui.org , and on the AIAS at www.uva-aias.net .

© ETUI aisbl, Brussels 2009. All rights reserved.

We encourage the distribution of this newsletter and of the information it contains, for non-commercial purposes and provided the source is credited. The ETUI is not responsible for the content of external internet sites. The ETUI is financially supported by the European Community. The European Community is not responsible for any use made of the information contained in this publication.To unsubscribe, please contact Tristan Macdonald tmacdonald@etui.org .

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