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2013 January epsucob@NEWS 02

Belgium - Civil service unions to demonstrate on 7 February

The three main trade union organisations in the public sector have called a national demonstration of federal civil servants for Thursday 7 February. The will be protesting against plans by civil service minister Hendrik Bogaert to make major changes to the system of career progression. The unions argue that Bogaert is talking about abolishing the system of training and examinations that are the basis of the current system without being clear about what he wants in its place. The unions are distributing 50000 postcards so that members can send their protests direct to the minister. Read more at > CSC (FR) And at > CGSP (FR) And at > SLFP (FR) And at > VSOA (NL) And at > ACOD (NL) And at > ACV (NL)

Italy - Getting the facts straight on public sector pay

The FP-CGIL, UIL FPL and UIL PA public sector federations have come together to produce data on public sector employment and pay. The aim is to try to counter much of the anti-public sector propaganda that has emerged in recent years. The data is included in a powerpoint presentation that looks at pay trends, overall public sector pay spending as a percentage of GDP and in relation to population. The figures show Italy as comparable with EU averages and other countries and that negotiated pay increases since 2000 have lagged behind inflation by 7.6%. Read more at FP-CGIL (IT)

UK - Civil service union ballots for strike action

PCS, the largest civil service union, is balloting its members for strike action in protest at the government’s refusal to negotiate over pay. Following a two-year pay freeze, the government is imposing a 1% limit on pay increases for a further two years. PCS is also warning that a review of terms and conditions could also mean further cuts. The unions is calling for a pay increase of 5% or £1200 (€1425) for 2013. Read more at > PCS

Bosnia-Hercegovina - Public sector workers strike over 10% pay cut

Public sector workers in Bosnia’s Serb Republic went on strike on 21 January in response to the government’s imposition of austerity measures including a 10% cut in pay. The government had offered a pay rise later in the year if the unions didn’t go on strike. The austerity measures are in response to International Monetary Fund loan conditions. Read more at > Reuters (EN)

Slovenia - Public sector strike against pay cuts

Workers across the public sector in Slovenia took strike action on 23 January in protest at government plans to cut jobs and reduce pay by 5%. This follows a pay cut of 3% in 2012. An estimated 100000 workers supported the strike while up to 15000 people joined a national demonstration in Ljubljana. Read more at > Reuters (EN) And at > Sky News (EN)

Ireland - Nurses campaign against low-paid graduate scheme

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) and the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) are lobbying and campaigning against a recent government initiative to recruit 1000 graduate nurses. The unions argue that the jobs being offered effectively replace agency and temporary staff but on lower rates of pay. The new rate (€22000 a year) is 80% of the reduced salary scale introduced in February 2012 but 39% lower than the effective starting rate that applied in 2009 before the public sector pay cuts. Read more at > INMO And at > INMO And at > INA

Israel - Major court victory for trade unions

The Histradrut trade union confederation has won a significant victory in the labour court over the freedom to organise. The case involved trade union recruitment and organising at the Pelephone telecoms company and the court ruled that the employer should not monitor workers or intervene in the process of trade union organisation. Read more at > PSI

Germany - Chimney sweeps face competition

Members of EPSU affiliate ZDS - the chimney sweeps’ trade union - are facing up to a new competitive environment this year as some of their responsibilities are opened up to competition. Chimney sweeps in Germany have a wide range of roles including testing for energy efficiency and dangerous emissions. The changes are the result of the Services Directive. The profession is facing a shortage of skilled workers and the main employer and trade union organisations have just agreed to the general applicability of a collective agreement on training for the sector. Read more at > ZDS (DE) And at > France 24 news website (EN)

Netherlands - Water workers try flash action over collective agreement

Hundreds of employees of water companies joined a flash action January 17 in defence of decent pay in the sector. The workers are calling for salary guarantees to continue to apply in any new collective agreement. Three quarters of employees have a certain salary guarantee, which comes from previous wage agreements with regional water companies. Around 5,000 water workers have been without a collective agreement since August and are concerned that they will lose out in a new agreement which could mean a reduction of income of on average €550. Read more at > FNV Abvakabo (NL)

Ireland - Public sector pay in line with other countries

Public service trade union Impact argues that public sector pay in Ireland is line with that in other countries. The union quotes figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as well as its own data from a detailed comparison with public sector jobs in Germany. It also points out that comparisons are often made without taking account of the 7% "pensions levy" imposed by the government in 2009. Read more at > Impact (EN)

Austria - Pay deal in energy sector

After intensive negotiations the GPA-DJP trade union has agreed a pay deal for the private sector that will provide increases on basic pay of between 2.9% and 3.2% with the higher increases for the lower paid. Inflation was 2.8% in the year to December 2012, averaging 2.4% over the whole year. It was also agreed to examine the coverage of the sector agreement in relation to companies in the sector covered by other agreements, subsidiaries of companies covered by the agreement, cooperation with employers who are not covered by the agreement and other employers who are not part of the energy industry. Read more at > GPA-DJP (DE)

France - Two-day strike over job cuts

The FNME-CGT, FO-FNEM and CFTC unions in the energy sector have called for two days of strike action on 21-22 January to protest at plans by the SNET energy company, owned by the Germany energy multinational EON, to close coal-fired power stations and cut 535 jobs by 2015. The unions want commitments to prolong the life of some power stations and to investigate the conversion of others while also confirming investment in new biomass initiatives.

Germany - Pay negotiations break down at EON

Negotiations over pay at the energy company EON have broken down. In the third round of talks, the company made a revised offer to increase pay by 1.7%, up from 1.1%, but this was rejected by the two trade unions, ver.di and IGBCE. The unions had submitted a claim for an increase of 6.5% along with calls to take on apprentices after qualification and for collective agreements to apply to subsidiary companies. The unions will be consulting their members with the possibility of an all-out strike unless EON comes up with an improved offer. Read more at > ver.di (DE)

France - Day of action over pay and jobs on 31 January

Three public service trade unions - CGT, FSU and Solidaires - have called a day of action, involving strikes, on 31st January. The protest is to put pressure on the government to stop job cuts in the public sector and to agree an across-the-board pay increase for all public sector workers. The unions point out that nearly a million civil servants and public sector employees are on pay rates close to the national minimum wage. Read more at > CGT (FR)

Portugal - Unions calls for overtime ban across local government

The STAL local government union has called for an indefinite ban on overtime work from 1 January in protest at cuts in overtime pay as part of the government’s austerity measures. Overtime rates have been reduced by half to only 12.5% for the first hour, 18.75% for subsequent hours and to only 25% for work on rest day and holidays. Read more at > STAL (PT)