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ISSUE 63 page 4

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New TU leader added to Norway’s powerful women

 NORWAY IS FAST DEVELOPING A LEADING position  in the gender make-up of its top post-holders. Following the passing of a statutory quota of 40% for both women and men on the boards of plcs and public sector bodies in 2006, the proportion of board members that are female has increased from 6% in 2002 to exceed the quota level today. Now the election of Gerd Kristiansen as head of the LO trade union federation means that both social partner organisations are led by women and, if opinion polls are correct, they will soon be joined by a female prime minister. However Kristiansen will campaign to prevent this happening as Erna Solberg, whom she described as ‘a nice woman’, is the leader of the Conservative party. On the other hand she thinks that co-operation with Kristin Skogen Lund, of the largest employers’ organisation NHO, can result in the improvement of both wages and conditions for women workers. ‘Equality policies are important for LO and important to me’ said the former nursing assistant from northern Norway. A single mother at 17, she also worked on fishing boats and survived a dramatic capsizing at sea many years ago.

Kristiansen, Skogen Lund,

Norway’s women leaders: Gerd Kristiansen of LO and Kristin Skogen Lund of NHO



Young hit by suicides in Sweden, idleness in Italy

Rail renationalisation to improve service in Estonia

WITH AUTHORITIES SUCH AS THE European Commission and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) concerned about a ‘lost generation’ of young people (see our last issue) hit by the hugely increased unemployment levels and reduction of opportunities caused by the current economic depression, news comes from two Member States of the effects. In Italy unemployment among 15 to 24-year-olds  stands at 41.9% but, even worse, the country also boasts the highest proportion in Europe of young people ‘doing nothing’. Over a third of those aged 15 to 29 are not in education, employment or training (NEETs). Hand-in-hand with this problem is the rise of temporary contracts and fixed-term jobs so that, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) nearly 32% of those employed were in these ‘precarious’ circumstances in 2012. Now labour minister Flavio Zanonato has announced tax incentives for firms to recruit young people as part of a national action plan.
In Sweden sustained high youth unemployment over the last twenty years has been blamed for the continuing rise in suicide among young people. The rate for the 16 to 24 age group is now five times what it was one hundred years ago. According to the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet jobs, education and apprenticeships are all necessary to show youngsters ‘that they are important. Because this is about saving an entire generation’.

THE ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT HAS TAKEN the plunge in reversing the seemingly unstoppable tide of privatisation of public assets in the EU. Unhappy with the performance of private operator Edelaraudtee, the ministry department in charge of railways has terminated their contract and intends to let the state-owned Elektriraudtee introduce 40 new trains on long-distance lines. From next April frequencies will at least double, and in some cases triple between major citiies in the country. There are also plans to increase speeds in future.


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