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Camilla Galli da Bino from Italy, is the information officer in the in the Working Conditions and Industrial Relations unit at Eurofound. She has worked in the European Industrial Relations Observatory (EIRO) team for several years and has been involved in a range of projects in the industrial relations area, including the company survey on working time and work-life balance (ESWT).
It is nearly 20 years since the European Industrial Relations Observatory (EIRO) started its activities. A project by Eurofound – the tripartite EU agency responsible for research in living and working conditions, industrial relations and restructuring – EIRO made its debut online in 1997. At that time, resources online were still rather scarce and the wealth of authoritative information provided by EIRO made a big splash in the Internet ocean of that time. It shortly became the favourite information source on industrial relations, not only in Europe but also on the other side of the Atlantic. The main reason for its success was that EIRO filled an important information gap: EU-wide comparative studies and country articles on industrial relations developments and trends became easily accessible, together with a number of other related resources, such as the industrial relations country profiles. The rationale behind the setting up of EIRO was the capacity to follow, collect and analyse developments at both EU and national level and provide this information to Eurofound’s main audience, namely policy-makers and practitioners at the EU institutions, social partner organisations at EU and country level and governments of the Member States. From the start of EIRO the academic community has always been very instrumental in disseminating findings through academic papers and presentations. EIRO has been used as a teaching tool in many academic establishments and innumerable students used it extensively for theses. Although industrial relations is not the most popular subject in mainstream media, journalists have always been very keen to report developments in key topics provided by EIRO, such as pay and working time.
The EIRO network of correspondents comprises experts and academics from all EU countries, including the most recent country to join, Croatia, and the non-EU country Norway as well as reporting from EU level. The correspondents contribute to EU-wide comparative studies and annual reviews on pay and working time, and produce articles focusing on the latest developments in their countries. From 2006, following a request by the European Commission, EIRO has prepared a series of reports looking at the representativeness of the sectoral social partner organisations and developed a methodology for these studies. The aim of these reports is to provide information to help the setting up and functioning of EU level sectoral social dialogue committees as prescribed by the EU treaty. Since 2006, 32 reports have been published on EIRO as part of this exercise. An annual review provides an overview of the main developments of industrial relations and working conditions in Europe. The report is the combined effort of EIRO and correspondents of the European Working Conditions Observatory (EWCO), the Eurofound observatory reporting on working conditions developments and trends. The 2012 annual review is presently in publication. In 2013 and 2014 EIRO will produce comparative studies on the developments of pay and working time in collective bargaining in the 21st. century. In parallel to these the web site will display the chronological progression of these developments and users will be able to browse and access all the relevant articles in a historical perspective. The European Industrial Relations Dictionary is a complementary reference tool providing definitions and contextual information for the most commonly used terms in employment and industrial relations at EU level. The dictionary was started to support policymakers, practitioners and all those interested in the history and evolving structure of the EU.
The futureWhat next for EIRO? After eighteen years of activity EIRO is now undergoing some important changes in order to continue to provide a unique service to its key audience. From 2014 EIRO will join with the EWCO network in an effort to provide more comprehensive reporting on the world of work in Europe. The new observatory aims to be more user-friendly, allowing its audience to identify and access key information in a more efficient manner. Together with the various comparative and representativeness studies, quarterly reports will inform and alert practitioners and policy-makers on the main issues in the thematic areas, providing accounts of social partner and government initiatives and reactions in all the EU countries plus Norway as well as at EU level. If you wish to keep informed on EIRO activities you can subscribe to the observatories newsletter, which also reports from EWCO and from the European Restructuring Monitor (ERM) and to Eurofound News.