Workers Day Across the EU: What is the Employment Situation?

Employment and Social Affairs
On Sunday, Trade unions and other groups staged rallies and other events to celebrate International Workers Day. But what is the Employment situation in Europe nowadays?

In Germany, the main rally took place in Stuttgart, where the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party was holding its congress. It also voted to support an election manifesto declaring that Islam is incompatible with the German constitution. In response, the Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB) spoke out against racism and right-wing extremism. Only minor scuffles were reported at the rally.

In the United Kingdom, the Labour Party also stood against the far-right and against racism in central London. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, joined thousands of people at a May Day and condemned the progress of far-right groups throughout Europe. Corbyn, who represents Labour’s left wing, was the first Labour leader to address a May Day crowd in decades.

France has been seeing a number of protest marches and rallies on Sunday, as many fear that protections for workers may be under threat. A new proposed labour reform would allow longer working hours and make it easier for companies to fire workers. Demonstrations have occasionally turned violent.

Eight weeks ahead of parliamentary elections, left-wing party leaders joined thousands in Madrid and targeted the outgoing conservative government. Spain’s two main trade unions highlighted low pay, workers’ rights and social exclusion.

Italy’s President, Sergio Mattarella delivered a speech to pay tribute to those killed at the workplace and laid a wreath at the headquarters in Rome of the government agency for insurance against work-related injuries. Last year saw a 16 percent increase in fatal injuries at work.

Furthermore, the traditional concert in Rome was this year dedicated to Giulio Regeni, a graduate student whose body was found in the outskirts of Egypt’s capital with clear signs of torture in February. Regeni was in Cairo to do fieldwork for his doctoral research at the University of Cambridge.

For more information on Giulio Regeni’s case, read “Regeni’s Case: Martin Schulz Calls on Egypt to Cooperate.”
Employment and Social Situation Improve in Europe

EU’s economy continues its slow but consistent recovery, with a gradual increase in the employment rate and a gradual decline in the unemployment rate, the European Commission has highlighted in its last Quarterly Review on Employment.

Unemployment continued to recede with 4.9 million fewer unemployed people since the April 2013 peak, but nearly 5 million more people unemployed in February 2016 than in March 2008.

Although at a slower pace than in 2014, permanent and full-time jobs are currently increasing, while employment rate has returned to its pre-crisis level.

However,  the gap between countries is much wider, from 55% in Greece to 80% in Estonia, Germany and Sweden.

Even if activity rates differ considerably across Member States – from less than 65% in Italy to more than 80% in Sweden – these developments are a sign of general economic and employment growth in most EU countries.

The financial situation of EU households is also improving. There is more available income in nearly all Member States, though households with the lower income remains in high financial distress.

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