Any suggestion that the European Trade Union Confederation discussion conference called with its research institute, the ETUI, on 2 and 3 October in Brussels on New paths in working time policy signals a ditching of the demand for the 35-hour week would be jumping to simplistic conclusions.
The reality is anything but. The negotiated 35-hour week was reaffirmed at the ETUCs Brussels Congress. It was, is and will remain a priority for European trade unions.
But today mass unemployment mean that the reduction/reorganization of working time must be tackled in different and even more ambitious ways.
So the 35-hour week has acquired new dimensions, like action to cut overtime, bring in continuing vocational training throughout working life, opportunities for phased retirement,....
The common aim of all these things must be to create the extra new jobs needed.
The ETUC stands united with all its national and industry affiliates in their struggle for these aims, most immediately its French members with respect to the National Conference on Employment taking place on 10 October in Paris.
The ETUC insists that the employment guidelines due to be discussed at the European Employment Summit of 21 November must call clearly and forcefully on the Member States to support the development and organization of the negotiations on the reduction of working time.
6 October 1997
The TimeWork Web: http://www.vcn.bc.ca/timework/