Madam, – Your new series on the jobs crisis is a welcome contribution to a problem that has been largely ignored by mainstream economists. As highlighted by John P Martin (Opinion, November 1st) the policy response by most governments across Europe has been to support, in conjunction with trade unions and employers, a legal framework for short-term working.
Arrangements for the collective reduction of working time existed in Germany, Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, France and Italy before the crisis. In response to the crisis these governments extended the eligibility criteria and duration of such schemes. In Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia legal provisions for short-term working were immediately introduced when unemployment began to rise. In Sweden and Denmark collective agreements aimed at maintaining employment were reached voluntarily between the social partners. Thus, collective bargaining with support from the state, across Europe, has proven very effective in avoiding the high levels of unemployment we are now experiencing. In Ireland, the policy response has been to adopt a non-interventionist approach to the labour market, letting the market “regulate itself”. It effectively means supporting employers to use redundancy as the first not the last option when reducing costs. – Yours, etc,
PhD Candidate in Public Policy,
College of Human Science,