(30 January 2020) Workers at Ameos in Germany, a private for-profit hospital corporation, are demanding fair wages, secured by a collective bargaining agreement. But the company violates their basic rights at work, among them the right to negotiations and the right to strike, by firing 14 workers and threatening 800 more layoffs instead of sitting down at the negotiation table.
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In the federal country of Sachsen-Anhalt in the east of Germany, for example nurses receive up to 500 EUR less than comparable employees in other hospitals. But Ameos refuses to sign a collective bargaining agreement with the union, ver.di.
Instead, Ameos is suggesting „negotiations“ with the works councils, which the latter have rightly refused. In Germany, collective bargaining about wages and other basic conditions is the prerogative of trade unions – only they can, after all, call workers into strike action.
Which is what ver.di did after Ameos failed to react to their call for negotiations: the union called short-term strike action in November, with a massive worker turnout. As as response, and rather without precedent in the German health care industry, Ameos has fired 14 workers without previous notice. They have also threatened 800 lay-offs should industrial action continue. In a time, where the health and labour ministries work together with stakeholders on retaining and winning nurses to work in hospitals to fight the “care emergency”, this is not only a slap into workers face, it is also a threat for the health care provision for a whole region. As more and more voices in the public and politics call for recommunalisation of the hospitals, the workers have now started an open-ended strike. They are fighting for better wages. Adequate payment will also help to find more people for the health professions. Adequate health care services for the region must be the priority, not ever higher profits. The workers need your support in their struggle!
It's not the first time Ameos is refusing collective bargaining. A similar struggle occurred in the region of Niedersachsen in 2014 – after Ameos cancelled the CBA they inherited when the clinics there were privatised, it took seven weeks of strike to get the company to sign an agreement again. They are also known for extensive outsourcing and ruthless restructuring on the backs of their employees. Ameos is looking to extend their business into other European countries. They have small operations in Switzerland and Austria and are looking for opportunities to take over health care facilities.
WE need to make sure, that multinationals in Europe need to respect their workers and the unions in which they are organised! Please join the LabourStart online campaign started by EPSU and ver.di.
You can find more details (in German) on ver.di campaign webseite: https://ameos.verdi.de
You can also send solidarity messages and pictures to the workers at email@example.com