Home page > 2011 January epsucob@NEWS 01

2011 January epsucob@NEWS 01

Portugal - Unions take legal action to block pay cuts

The Frente Comum federation of public service unions, including STAL, are using the courts in an attempt to block the implementation of pay cuts across the public sector for those earning over €1500 a month. The unions have taken out injunctions against individual local authorities that they hope will force employers to put on hold the planned pay cuts. Read more at > STAL (PT)

Italy - Some positive results from campaign to protect precarious workers

Two regional agreements in the health sector and one covering employees dealing with migrant workers mean that many fixed-term workers will have their contracts extended rather than face dismissal this month. The FP-CGIL has been campaigning against government legislation that posed a threat to tens of thousands of temporary workers across the public services. These new agreements will provide some protection but the union will continue its campaign to ensure more fixed-term workers get their contracts renewed. Read more at > FP CGIL (IT)

Europe - Next stage of working time consultation begins

The European Commission has launched the second phase of consultation over the Working Time Directive with responses due from social partners by 28 February. The Commission has put the focus on issues around on-call time, minimum rest periods, tackling excessive working hours, better reconciliation of work and family life and clarifying areas whether the law appears unclear. However, EPSU underlines the need to challenge the individual opt-out which it believes is behind the fact that more than one in 10 employees in the EU still work more than 48 hours a week. Read more at > DG Employment (EN, DE, FR) And at > EPSU (EN)

Netherlands - Unions call national demonstration in defence of public services

Public services unions are organising a national demonstration on 17 February in the Hague in protest at the government’s attacks on the public sector and public service workers. The unions highlight the vital services provided by public sector workers and emphasise their right to freely negotiate their pay and conditions. They argue that the public sector should not bear the brunt of austerity measures and call for measures to avoid job cuts. Read more at > FNV Abvakabo (NL) And at > CNV Publieke Zaak (NL)

Europe - WISUTIL – pay survey in energy, waste and water – CONTACT YOUR MEMBERS

EPSU is encouraging its affiliates in the energy, waste and water sectors to get in contact with their members and urge them to complete an online survey on pay. EPSU is working on a project with researchers from the University of Amsterdam, the FORBA research organisation from Austria and the international network of Wage Indicator websites. The data from the surveys will enable EPSU affiliates to make a range of comparisons at national and European level and both between companies and across transnationals. Read more at > EPSU links to websites in national languages

Spain - Unions protest against regional and local government in Madrid and Murcia

The FSC-CCOO and FSP-UGT public service federations have organised protests and legal challenges against local government in Madrid and the regional government of Murcia. In both cases, the authorities have attempted to make changes to employment conditions which they have no legal right to do. Over 15,000 workers joined a demonstration in Murcia that called for the resignation of the president of the regional government. Read more at > FSC-CCOO (ES) And at > FSP-UGT (ES)

UK - Hospital support staff strike to secure rights to sick pay and unsocial hours payments

Employees of the Compass Medirest multinational at hospitals in Southampton and Buckinghamshire have taken strike action in protest at the company’s failure to apply the national health sector agreement. The workers are missing out on sick pay and various unsocial hours payments despite the fact that funding has been made available to ensure that the company’s policies are in line with the Agenda for Change agreement covering the health sector. UNISON has called on contractors across the sector to pay sick pay to all their workers as many currently are losing out on this basic entitlement. Read more at > UNISON (EN) And on > sick pay

France - Action on 20 January over precarious employment

The CGT federation representing local and regional government is organising a day of action, including strikes, on 20 January in protest at the spread of precarious employment conditions across the sector. The federation estimates that there are around a million workers in the public sector who don’t have full civil service status. The union is calling for all workers in the sector to be transferred to civil service conditions and restrictions placed on the extent to which local government employers can take on employees on precarious terms and conditions. Read more at > CGT services publics (FR)

Europe - EPSU signs recruitment agreement with hospital employers

EPSU and HOSPEEM, the organisation representing hospital employers across Europe, have agreed a framework of actions on recruitment and retention. This is to encourage and enable social partners at European and national levels to develop concrete action to tackle staff shortages and qualification needs now and in the future. In particular, EPSU wants to see action on the spread of fixed-term and agency work and intiatives to improve work-life balance and other conditions in the sector to make it a more attractive to new recruits. Read more at > EPSU (EN)

Germany - Energy company rejects pay increase

In the second round of bargaining, the Vattenfall Europe energy company has rejected the trade union demands for a pay increase for 2011. Ver.di and the others unions had put forward a claim for a 6.5% increase for the calendar year 2011 on the basis of good results for the company and a positive outlook for the German economy. The company argues that it needs more resources for investment and that rather than an increase in pay rates it would only increase the amount of money going to performance-related pay. Read more at > ver.di’s Vattenfall website (DE)

Ireland - Student nurses face “slave labour”

The latest austerity plans from the Department of Health include a proposal to phase out payments to studesnt nurses. Currently they are paid 80% of the minimum of a qualified nurse when they are on work placements. If the plans go ahead this will be reduced to 40% by 2014 and then phased out completely. Read more at > SIPTU (EN)

Belgium - Negotiations set to start over asylum service workers transfer to civil service

The CCSP/CCOD and CGSP/ACOD public service federations have managed some progress in their campaign to get employees of the FEDASIL asylum service transferred to the federal civil service. The employees have been on fixed-term contracts and lower rates of pay than and the unions have been pushing for an end to precarious employment conditions. An agreement will be put to the unions on 17 January beginning a lengthy process of negotiation over the practical details. Read more at > CSC (FR)

UK - Waste workers strike over threats to cut pay and change pay system

Refuse collection workers employed by Birmingham City Council, the largest local authority in England, have taken strike action in defence of their pay. The Council has not only threatened to cut their pay by around £4000 (€4720) a year but has also said it wants to change the salary system so that workers will be paid on the basis of the amount of rubbish they collect. Read more at > Unite (EN)

Netherlands - No progress from meeting with Minister

Public service union Abvakabo reports that a meeting with the home affairs minister was disappointing in terms of the prospects for the negotiations over a new agreement covering the civil service. The minister confirmed that the government would be looking for job cuts and a pay freeze. The union reaffirmed its call for a 2% pay increase and a stop on job cuts. It argued in particular that redundancies would be s short-sighted measure in view of the increasing trend to retirement arising from the ageing public sector workforce. Read more at > FNV Abvakabo (NL)

France - Employers reduce pay offer

Energy workers are facing another year with a loss of purchasing power following the imposition of a 1.1% pay rise in 2011. With inflation forecast at 1.5% for the year this means a 0.4% fall in real terms. The employers had initially offered 1.2% but then reduced it to 1.1% when the trade unions refused to sign the agreement. Read more at > FNEM-FO (FR)

Germany - Union campaigns for agency workers’ rights

The ver.di services union is concerned about the spread of agency work and, in particular, the way that employers use agency workers instead of permanent staff to reduce salary costs. The union wants to ensure that agency workers get their right to equal pay and is also calling for a tightening of the law to make it more difficult for employers simply to use agency staff instead of permanent employees. Ver.di has also set up a hotline to advise the 280,000 agency workers of their rights following a court ruling that collective agreements signed by the CGZP Christian trade union were invalid as the CGZP was not authorised to negotiate collective agreements. Read more at > ver.di (DE) And at > ver.di’s special website (DE)

Czech Republic - Austerity measures lead to 2,500 job cuts in ministries with more expected

Nearly 2,500 workers across 10 ministries were made redundant in 2010. This is below the expected number of 4,000 but more job cuts are expected in 2011. Ministries were told to reduce their pay bill by 10% and some are doing this through a combination of job and pay cuts rather than just reducing employment. Read more at > Czech news website (EN)

Romania - 123,000 public sector jobs cut

The government announced at the end of December that it had surpassed the target set by the International Monetary Fund and cut 123,000 jobs from the public sector, 16,000 more than required by the agreement with the IMF. The total number of public sector workers now stands at 1,274,000 but further cuts are planned for this year. Read more at > SE Times news website (EN)

Finland - Union leaders express concern over break down of tripartite social dialogue

Leaders of the SAK and STTK trade union confederations have called on the government and employers to re-establish tripartite dialogue over economic issues, taxation and labour market policy. They argue that the current and previous governments have claimed to support the tripartite approach without actually backing this up with concrete measures. Meanwhile, the EK employers’ confederation appears to want to move away from such national consultation and negotiation. Read more at > JHL (EN)

UK - Union attacks unfairness of performance-related pay

The main civil service union, PCS, has called for the abolition of performance-related pay in the civil service. In reaction to news that £40 million (€47.2m) was distributed as performance-related bonuses in the Ministry of Defence alone, the union argues that this should be distributed more fairly among all workers. Read more at > PCS (EN)