After the surge in remote working as a result of the pandemic, trade unions in Ireland, Russia and Spain have welcomed new initiatives, including legislation and collective agreements, that regulate telework. Research by the Eurofound research agency also looks into the negative and positive implications of telework for workers’ autonomy and work-life balance raising again the challenges to ensure that workers have control over their working time and underlining the importance of current discussions at European level on the right to disconnect.
Pensions/retirement, Work-life balance
The ambiguous effects of telework In 2017, a joint report from the Eurofound research agency and the International Labour Organization observed that advances in digital technology were making it easier to work anytime and anywhere. The phenomenon of telework and mobile work has been increasing
The trade union movement has applied for a judicial review of the change in law that effectively allows employers to summarily dismiss workers without reason once they reach pension age. They also want the legislation suspended. Unions reacted angrily to the new law which they argue was inappropriately included in a package of temporary measures to deal with the pandemic. The measure was implemented without any form of social dialogue and the unions have raised this specific concern with the European Commission.
Trade unions aim to challenge a change to dismissal and retirement rights that took effect on 1 January. This was a last-minute change introduced by the government as part of a new package of measures in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The legislation means that employers can now dismiss without justification any worker who reaches state pension age. The unions have attacked the change on several grounds. It was introduced without any due process of social dialogue; it is a permanent change rather than part of a temporary response to the pandemic; it flies in the face of many efforts in
Members of public services union Fagforbundet are involved in a strike over pay against church employers. Following the failure of mediation, the union had to resort to strike action to prevent employers from reducing starting pay rates for new priests. There is also concern that priests who switch jobs might lose out. The union argues that such a measure would only worsen the current recruitment crisis. Meanwhile, a strike of childcare workers organised by Fagforbundet and Delta was called off at the last minute when the Norlandia group agreed to introduce a pension scheme in line with the
Negotiations for a new collective agreement covering the state sector will begin in mid-January and the FNV trade union has surveyed members to identify the main priorities. Over 80% of respondents said that it was important for the union to maintain its proposed claim for a 5% pay increase. The feeling was that this was necessary to cover cost of living increases and recruit and retain staff. Members were also keen on an allowance for working from home or support to cover any costs related to home working. Early retirement is also on the agenda while the FNV will be looking for measures to
The Fagforbundet and Delta trade unions warn that strike action could follow if mediation doesn’t produce a result in a dispute over pension provision in the Norlandia Group. The unions are fighting for a hybrid pension scheme that would give employees a decent pension for life. This is the kind of scheme that is widely available in most private childcare companies but not Norlandia. The unions underline that the type of scheme they are arguing for particularly benefits women and that an industry standard must be maintained for private childcare companies so that employees' pay, working and
More than 12,000 members of the DSR nursing union took part in a consultation over what should be the main demands in the upcoming collective bargaining negotiations in the public sector. The DSR has selected the main elements focusing on higher pay and better protection of leisure time. The union will aim for as large a percentage wage increase as possible that would recognise the large increase in workload and demands for flexibility during the pandemic and the need to recruit and retain health staff. The DSR recognises, however, the pressure on public finances and the impact of the formula
The FNV and NU'91 trade unions have negotiated a new collective agreement that provides for a 3% pay increase for workers in maternity care. The last collective agreement actually expired on 1 January this year but bargaining has been difficult not just because of the COVID-19 pandemic but also because the unions are looking for key improvements on work-life balance and on-call time which the employers are reluctant to agree. As a result the agreement is only for this calendar year. It also includes a 1.5% increase on the end-of-year bonus taking from 6.2% to 7.7% of salary and there is a one
Public services union Fagforbundet has warned that a dispute over pensions could end in strike action unless the Spekter employer organisation delivers a solution in upcoming mediation. The dispute covers workers in the culture sector, including orchestras, theatres and opera. A temporary pension arrangement involving defined contributions was agreed in 2016 in response to the final challenges facing the sector. The union now wants to negotiate a long-term solution that delivers a hybrid and gender-neutral pension scheme but Spekter has not come up with a proposal and has effectively abandoned
The Kommunal municipal workers’ union has submitted its claims for this year’s delayed negotiations with the SKR and Sobona employer organisations. The union is underlining that its key demands on pay, working hours and other conditions are fundamental to recognise the efforts made by local and regional government workers and health and social care staff in dealing with last year’s fires and the current pandemic. Kommunal is calling for a 3% pay rise for all workers with an additional 0.5% distributed locally to vocationally trained groups in health care, schools and care. The agreement should
The SSM trade union federation has secured key changes to pension provision in draft legislation. The changes affect the number of years of contributions to get a pension, different retirement rules depending on the nature of work in different sectors, the possibility of early retirement from 60, the possibility for workers to make additional payments to improve their entitlement and extra years credited for workers in arduous occupations like construction.
The Fp Cgil, Cisl Fp and Uil Fpl public service federations have finalised a new collective agreement covering around 15000 managers in local and regional government and the health service. The agreement covers the period 2016-2018 and includes a pay rise of 3.48% which follows the other public sector agreements for that period. Apart from pay, there are provisions covering trade union relations, work-life balance and leave arrangements, including support for women who are victims of violence. The agreement also establishes a joint body to look at innovation and service improvement and there
Public services union Fórsa believes that working time should be an important element of any discussion around telework/remote working. The union is preparing a response to a government consultation on remote working as well as a guide for negotiators. It is estimated that up to a third of employees in Ireland were remote working at the height of the COVID-19 emergency and the union now wants to ensure that conditions for telework are fully negotiated with proper safeguards and that emergency arrangements are not simply made permanent.