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ISSUE 75 page 8

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Sites of Interest
Anti geo-blocking Commissioner shows YouTube video
 EU DIGITAL COMMISSIONER ANDRUS ANSIP HAS PREVIOUSLY PUT ON RECORD his dislike of geo-blocking, the common practice whereby subscribers to a web service are prevented from accessing it when they travel to another country, but now he has backed it up with a concrete example. Announcing a step-by-step approach to end it he loaded up a YouTube video on his tablet. The clip, authored by European consumer organisation BEUC, plants a hidden camera in a British shop as the assistant asks customers for their passports before selling them bread and other items. He then varies the price according to nationality and, in some cases, refuses to sell them anything. As the accompanying slogan says ‘You wouldn’t accept this in the physical world so why should accept it when shopping or watching content
GeoBlockVideo
online?’. Having already presented legislation on geo-blocking (see issue 71) Ansip is keen to stop web shops refusing to sell to consumers in particular locations. He said that the commission would come up with a proposal that would oblige companies to ‘sell like at home’, anything sold online in one Member State should be available to all EU citizens. In general the commissioner believes that one set of rules will not be sufficient to deal with all the different kinds of Internet commerce ranging from Google, Facebook and Spotify to companies like Airbnb and Uber which bring citizens together to trade. ‘It's too early to say what we have to do exactly when we are talking about collaborative economy’ he opined but ‘It's absolutely clear that this sharing economy will be our future’.

A French citizen is asked for her passport before buying bread in a UK deli

 

 

 Web sites mentioned in this issue are available at:
 Dirk’s union HQ map
 Consultation on the European Pillar of Social Rights
 BEUC geo-blocking video
European Works Councils Database
New web site aims to help works councils

EUROPEAN WORKS COUNCILS (EWCs) are present in over a thousand multi-national companies in the EU. The worker representatives on these bodies need training and information which has been provided by the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) since 1998. Now the EWC database (EWCdb) has been completely revamped with the aim of improving the user interface, expanding search possibilities and offering access to new content, providing an individual workspace (dashboard) for each user and providing free access. The site provides a glossary of useful terms, details of relevant legislation for each Member State, statistics and graphs, model agreements previously signed and news.

Power & buzz? Big data analyses trade union HQs
A DUTCH TRADE UNIONIST HAS USED his skill with web information to analyse how the location of union offices might affect their efficiency. Dirk Kloosterboer was inspired by the desire of Hans Spekman, the chairman of the Dutch Social-Democrat party, to move his party office from one of Amsterdam’s poshest canalside locations to a ‘normal district, a neighbourhood where things happen’. Applying the same idea to national union federations he decided to use two measures: distance to the national parliament and number of convenience shops within a half-kilometre radius of the head office. The first was taken as a measure of power, the need to influence government, and the second as a yardstick for liveliness, or buzz, of the area. Using data from the Open Street Map project the results show that union HQs are generally within walking distance of the levers of power: an average of 2km. with three-quarters within 5 km. As for buzz, the average number of corner shops near union offices is 2 with the liveliest locations being in Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria and the dullest in the Netherlands; the U.K.’s TUC scores well on both measures. Dirk agrees with the Social Democrat leader that moving to more ‘normal’ areas might be a good thing but the party office remains by the canal as the lease doesn’t run out until 2018.

 TUHQsmap

Dirk’s map showing union HQs, parliaments & shops




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