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20 January 2020
Germany: the left and trade unions relaunch push for €12/hour minimum wage
On 14 January, the president of the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB), Reiner Hoffman, launched an initiative to increase the country’s minimum wage to 12 euros per hour (up from €9.35 at present). This day was chosen for the launch of the initiative, as at the same time a second pay negotiation meeting was taking place between social partners in the fast food sector, a sector that is rather resistant to wage increases. For her part, the new co-chair of the SPD, Saskia Esken, also argued for a clear-cut...
16 January 2020
Spain: national securities supervisory authority calls for greater gender parity on company management boards
Spain’s National Securities Market Commission (CMNV) in charge of supervising Spain’s stock markets wants listed companies to have at least 40% female representation on their boards of directors. This is just one of new measures being introduced in the overhauled good governance code that has to be approved by the relevant companies within the next few months. Although the new rules are not binding they do set out a common agreed framework and any non-compliant companies will have to report the reasons for...
16 January 2020
Great Britain: one out of every five employees its banned from discussing their salary with co-workers
On 15 January a survey by the trade union confederation the TUC revealed that 18% of UK employees have to uphold  salary confidentiality clauses. Called ‘pay secrecy’ or ‘gagging’ clauses, they ban workers from openly discussing their pay with co-workers ,and if found do so run he risk of employment termination. TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady argued, “Pay secrecy clauses are a get out of jail free card for bad bosses. They stop workers from challenging unfair pay, allow top executives to hoard...
15 January 2020
EU: European Commission presents initial initiatives for building a strong social Europe
Preserving the social market economy, a cornerstone of the EU, building upon it and maximizing current transformation processes (digital, environmental, demographic) in order to strengthen and safeguard just transitions encapsulates the core of the new EU Commission’s goal that it presented to the press on 14 January. The accompanying communication document entitled A Strong social Europe For Just Transitions is the platform from which it is both launching a public consultation on the challenges and...
15 January 2020
EU: an investment plan and a mechanism for the Just Transition to underpin the European Green Deal
On 14 January the European Commission presented its investment plan that will underpin its Green Deal (c.f. article No. 11541 on the EU Green Deal). Significant investment will be required for the EU to achieve its goal of being a climate-neutral economy by 2050. This plan will mobilise public investment and help to unlock private funds through EU financial instruments, which would lead to at least €1 trillion of investments in the decade ahead. Furthermore a new European fund will be set up within the Just...
15 January 2020
Italy: mixed results in 2019 for the citizens’ income policy
A flagship introduced by the first coalition government led by Giuseppe Conte, the so-called citizens’ income (see article n°10970), which was officially launched in April last year, has only partially kept its promises. The INPS (Istituto nazionale della previdenza sociale), the main entity of the Italian public retirement system, received 1.63 million requests for both the citizens’ income and pension, as of 6 December 2019. Around 1 million of those requests were accepted, while almost 445,000 were turned...
14 January 2020
EU: the European Commission wants national minimum salaries that enable workers to live decently
While still candidate for the position of EU Commission President, and in a bid to secure European Socialist support for her candidacy, Ursula von der Leyen threw her support behind the concept of a minimum salary level that enables workers to live decently.* Accordingly on 14 January 2020, the EU Commission launched the first stage of the procedure towards its achievement, namely a consultation with the European social partners. Mindful of the need to respect national prerogatives, and especially those concerning...
14 January 2020
United States: Labor Department restricts the notion of ‘joint-employer’
On 12 January 2020, the US Department of Labor (DOL) revealed fresh regulations that set out four factors to be used to determine joint-employer status as regards the responsibilities and obligations intended in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The new joint-employer status qualification scale, which comes into force on 16 March 2020, seeks to limit the likelihood of co-employment status. This new scale is a response to previous efforts (especially by the Obama administration) to broaden the notion and to...
10 January 2020
Japan: ‘technical trainees’, a euphemism for exploited foreign manpower
In a country that has lost 11% of its active population in the space of 20 years, Japan remains reticent over the idea of opening its borders to long-term immigrant workers. Companies in need of manpower instead turn to ‘technical trainees’ to fill the gaps. ‘Technical trainees’ is a term for young Asian unskilled workers. Increasingly prevalent (367,000 in June 2019) and rising at an annual 25%, ‘technical trainees’ tend to come from Vietnam and China. They are employed in small factories and farming...
9 January 2020
Finland: a new agreement for the technology, electronics, mechanical, and metallurgy industry sets the tone for negotiations across the other sectors
Following an agreement between the industry union (Teollisuusliitonet) and technology sector employers (Teknologiateollisuuteen), employees have secured a 3.3% salary increase distributed over 25 months. The agreement that runs from 04 January 2020 to 30 November 2021 signals an end to the sector’s competitiveness pact that the previous government had implemented, and which notably...