14 June marked the anniversary of the massive mobilisation and strike action of women workers across the country to highlight persistent gender inequality. Latest figures show a gender pay gap of close to 20% and an even higher pensions gap of nearly a third. With major mobilisations impossible in the current situation, a week of online and local actions were organised in the week beginning 8 June to highlight the urgent need for action to tackle inequality.
Union Rights, Gender pay gap, Switzerland
Following the national women's strike last month, the vpod/ssp public services union has set out a range of demands to tackle gender inequality across the public services and with particular measures in the childcare, health and education sectors. The union wants to see equal pay auditing of all public employers with the involvement of the union and an across-the-board pay increase for occupations and sectors dominated by women - particularly care jobs. Along with this the union underlines the importance of stable and reliable working hours and a range of measures in relation to maternity and
The vpod/ssp public services trade union along with the SGB/USS trade union confederation is continuing to build for the national women's strike planned for 14 June. The aim of the strike is to address 10 major issues including the gender pay gap, work-life balance, working hours that are either too short or excessively long, sexual harassment and violence, inadequate pensions and the undervaluation of women's work. Along with strike action the unions will be organising events and actions at workplaces and towns and cities across the country.
The vpod/ssp public services union has won an important victory in the federal court ensuring the right to strike for health workers. The union took the case because in November 2017 the Fribourg regional (canton) parliament introduced a strike ban covering health workers. The workers had been involved in a number of actions to stop outsourcing and the deterioration of the working conditions, prompting the initiative from the regional parliament.
The ssp/vpod public service union is mobilising again to defend the right to strike for care workers in the Fribourg region. The proposal for the ban is coming from right-wing MPs in the cantonal parliament despite the fact that the union had successfully negotiated with the state council to preserve care workers' right to strike (see epsucob@NEWS 15 and 17 in September). The union called for a big protest outside the Grand Council on 17 November.
Protest action and a petition promoted by the vpod/ssp public services union and supported by other trade unions, political parties and civil society has led to a change to draft legislation in the Freibourg/Fribourg region that would have removed the right to strike for care workers (see epsucob@NEWS 15, 2017). The union said that the mobilisation of care staff had been important for the outcome and reinforces the importance of the right to strike in underpinning the unions' ability to negotiate effectively.
The SSP/vpod public services union is campaigning with political and other organisations to defend the right to strike in the care sector. In proposed revisions to the law on the care sector, the government of the Fribourg region in western Switzerland plans to ban strike action. The union says this will deprive over 6000 workers (4000 in the public sector and 2500 in the non-profit sector) of the right to strike.The campaigning organisations have been collecting signatures for a petition and demonstrations and other action are planned if the region doesn't revise its proposals.