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Workplace inequality on the increase in Europe

Workplace inequalities have increased significantly across Europe as a result of the global economic crisis, and will continue to do so as more and more countries introduce austerity measures and labour reforms, according to a new study published by the International Labour Office (ILO).

 

The study analyses how working conditions, wages and incomes, employment and gender equality, among other workplace issues, have been deteriorating across the continent since the start of the crisis.

Key findings of the ILO study include:

  • Workers on temporary contracts were massively affected by job cuts and used as “a sort of employment buffer”, as the situation in Spain reveals, where 90% of employment losses affected temporary workers.
  • Low-skilled workers have been especially hard hit in the crisis as manufacturing companies started to lay off part of their staff.
  • Women employed in male-dominated sectors were the first to be dismissed or experienced higher wage cuts than men.


New labour market reforms decided for 2012 to boost competitiveness, for instance the minimum wage freeze and cuts in social protection in Spain, the decision to multiply short time schemes in France, and further wage moderation and low pay sector increase in many countries may directly increase inequalities, according to the publication. A greater number of people will also become more vulnerable to future crises.

In the longer term, the study warns that the crisis may also halt progress made in Europe towards better quality jobs and working conditions. For instance, it says reductions in spending on training at the enterprise level combined with reduced training programmes financed by the state will have a negative effect in the long term.

 

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