Home page > 2012 April epsucob@NEWS 07

2012 April epsucob@NEWS 07

Spain - Union leaders ask ILO director general to intervene

The general secretaries of the CCOO and UGT confederations have written to Juan Somavia, director general of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), asking him to intervene urgently over the breakdown in social dialogue. Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, has written in support of their request. The unions argue that the government has pushed through its labour reform proposals without any negotiation or consultation. They will be submitting a formal case to the ILO claiming that the government has infringed key ILO conventions. They also point out that the government action violates the agreement that the unions had recently signed with the employers’ organisations shortly before the labour reform was approved. Read more at > FSC-CCOO (ES) And at > FSP-UGT (ES)

Czech Republic - Confederation calls national protest against austerity measures

The CMKOZ trade union confederation is organising a national demonstration on 21 April in protest at government austerity measures that include cuts to pensions, public sector jobs and higher VAT. The confederation is working to get broad support for the demonstration from pensioners, patients, the unemployment and civil society. The protest will be calling for the prime minister and government to resign. Read more at > CMKOS’s special website (CZ) And at > news website (EN)

Slovenia - Biggest public sector strike for 20 years

On Wednesday 18 April workers across the public sector took part in the biggest strike for since the country’s independence. They were protesting against the government’s planned austerity measures that include a proposed 7.5%-10% cut in public sector pay from July. Read more at > STA news website (EN) And at > Ansamed news website (EN) And various stories at > labourstart

France - Public service federations boycott meeting

Seven trade union federations (CFTC, CGT, FA/FPT, FO, FSU, Solidaires and UNSA) have decided not to take part in the April meeting of the general council of the public sector and issued a joint statement criticising the declining quality of social dialogue. The unions argue that the government is not interested in proper negotiations and issues documents and proposals without taking account of the views of trade unions. There is also a question of the resources and time available to the trade unions to respond to new proposals and regulations. Read more at > CGT (FR)

Italy - Confederations unite over pension reforms

The CGIL, CSIL and UIL trade union confederations organised a joint demonstration on 13 April in protest at government plans to reform the pensions system. The unions point out that billions have already been cut from the system and that public sector workers are set to lose out in particular from the proposed changes. A key change will affect early retirement. Read more at > FP-CGIL (IT) And at > FP-CISL (IT)

UK - Civil service union plans further action over pensions

Following a ballot of its members in March, PCS, the main civil service union has called a national strike on 10 May coordinated with other unions in the public sector with further national action coordinated with other unions at the end of June. The union is also planning regional protests and rallies on 10 May and action short of a strike including an overtime ban from 11 May until the end of June. Read more at > PCS (EN)

Netherlands - Unions suspend consultations in local authorities

The FNV Abvakabo and CNV Publieke Zaak public service trade unions have suspending consultations with certain local authorities in the latest stage of their dispute with the VNG municipal employers’ organisation. Negotiations over a new collective agreement broke down last year but there was hope of further negotiations at the beginning of this year. However, these broke down again in February with the employers unwilling to offer a decent pay increase or make concessions on the union’s demands for employment security. The unions are now taking a range of actions and the suspension of consultations means that local authorities are prevented from implementing restructuring and budget cuts. Read more at > FNV Abvakabo (NL) And at > CNV Publieke Zaak (NL)

Europe - Last chance to register for EPSU-ETUI collective bargaining seminar

EPSU, with the support of the ETUI trade union education institute, is organising a seminar on collective bargaining on 24-25 May (participants are asked to arrive on the evening of 23 May). The seminar will discuss the implications of economic governance for collective bargaining, will hear how the European Metalworkers Federation has been coordinating collective bargaining and will debate the proposal to set up a permanent collective bargaining network within EPSU. Places are limited and restricted to one per affiliate and two per country. Read more at > EPSU (EN)

Europe - ETUC argues that employment package fails to address impact of austerity

The ETUC’s initial response to the European Commission’s communication on employment is that it contains some positive elements but fails to address the central problem of the impact of austerity measures and the need for a clear plan to boost investment. The ETUC recognises the proposal to strengthen the involvement of social partners in the elaboration of macroeconomic and labour market policy and the references to the role of decent wages in securing job quality and domestic demand, increasing minimum wages to help prevent growing in-work poverty, action to support youth employment and to tackle undeclared work. Read more at > ETUC (EN) And in French at > CES And at > DG Employment (EN, FR, DE)

Finland - Latest figures show decline in pay differentials

Statistics Finland has just released data showing the 10-year trend (2001-2010) in pay differentials in the private, local government and central government sectors. The figures compare the pay of the highest paid 10% of employees with the lowest paid 10%. The trends across the three sectors are down in the last couple of years after an upward trend until 2008. The pay differential is lowest in local government where the highest earners get just over twice (2.065) the level of the bottom 10%. Read more at > Statistics Finland (EN)

Serbia - Union signs new collective agreement at transmission company

Last month the EMS energy union was able to sign a new collective agreement with the JP EMS electricity transmission company after lengthy negotiations. There were key issues in the negotiations around redundancy provisions, payments for food and annual leave but these were finally resolved thanks in part to expressions of support from EPSU and sister unions in Slovenia and Macedonia.

Austria - Unions renew call for long-term care funding

The vida and GPA-DJP services unions have renewed their call for the need for a new initiative to ensure long-term funding for the social care sector. They have come up with a model that involves a new tax on wealth and the reintroduction of a reformed inheritance tax. The unions point out that with average pay in the sector 17% below national average pay there is an urgent need to increase pay rates along with the provision of quality training at federal level. Pay levels are not just low relative to other sectors but fail to reflect the physical and mental demands made on care workers. Read more at > vida (DE)

Norway - Union confederation submits pay claim to private employers

The blue collar LO confederation has put forward a pay claim to the Spekter employers’ organisation that covers workers in health, transport and other public services employed in the public sector. The claim includes real wage growth and a general increase of NOK 2438 (€323). The unions also want to see better conditions for temporary agency workers, improved pay for working unsocial hours and action to improve working conditions for older workers. Read more at > Fagforbundet (NO)

Europe - Latest research reveals deteriorating working conditions

A conference in Brussels last month organised by the ETUI research organisation examined some of the latest research revealing worsening working conditions for many across the European Union. Studies from Belgium, France, Italy and Spain provided evidence of increased risks to health and safety and highlighted the fact that it was often the low-paid, young workers and migrants who suffered under the worst conditions. Read more at > ETUI (EN)

Sweden - Conflict over pay of personal assistants

The Kommunal municipal services union has given notice of a dispute with three private health companies - Frösunda, Humana Assistance AB and Olivia. The union is unhappy with a 2.6% pay increase this year which will give the workers, 70% of whom are women, an extra SEK 500 (€56). These workers earn on average only SEK 19500 (€2200) a month. Kommunal wants to see an increase of around SEK 960 (€108) a month which would be in line with the increase in local government. Read more at > Kommunal (SV)

Ireland - Energy unions negotiate cost savings plan

Following lengthy negotiations members of the five trade unions at ESB, the main Irish energy company, have agreed a major cost savings plan. The unions managed to protect basic pay and pensions and to avoid compulsory redundancies. However, the cuts will involve some reductions to allowances while 700 jobs will go through voluntary redundancy. A further 300 jobs will go through natural attrition. Read more at > SIPTU (EN)

Italy - Health unions highlight attacks on collective bargaining in private sector

The FP-CGIL, FP-CISL and UIL-FPL health union federations have written to the minister of labour calling for an urgent meeting to discuss collective bargaining in the private health sector. The unions are concerned about the fact that the AIOP private health employers’ organisation has signed agreements with other, unrepresentative unions and more broadly about wage dumping in the sector. The federations argue that undercutting the main sectoral agreement will undermine pay and conditions and ultimately the quality of health services provided by private companies. Read more at > FP-CGIL (IT)

Netherlands - Employers suspend negotiations in haulage/waste sector

Employers in the haulage sector (covering also the waste industry) have unexpectedly suspended negotiations over a new collective agreement without making a pay offer. The FNV Bondgenoten union had noted some progress in key areas such as equal pay for equal work and improved conditions for temporary workers. However, there are many other areas where the union is still concerned that the employers want to undermine existing conditions. Read more at > FNV Bondgenoten (NL)

Finland - 24-hour strike on the buses

The JHL public services union is organising a 24-hour strike of bus drivers in Helsinki on 2 May. The strike is in protest at the refusal of the PTY employers’ organisation to apply the national framework agreement. JHL wants to prevent the employers undermining drivers’ pay and conditions. Read more at > JHL (FI)

Denmark - Union welcomes initiative on home care

The FOA has welcomed the setting up of a commission to examine home care provision. The union argues strongly that the quality and dignity of care need to be at the centre of the commission’s considerations. Above all FOA will be urging the commission to take full account of the contribution of thousands of health and social care professionals to the quality of home care and shift the focus away from the obsession with cutting costs that has been the primary approach of many municipalities in recent years.