A new agreement between unions, employers and the Flemish government has delivered a range of benefits for workers in various health and social services in the non-profit sector. Overall, there will be the equivalent of 3,716 new posts to help tackle high workloads. There will be a general 1.7% increase in wages but with some additional increases for those on the lowest pay rates and those will long service. In elderly care, the rehabilitation sector, psychiatric care homes and sheltered living initiatives, there will be a new pay structure from 1 July 2021, bringing pay rates in alignment
Staffing levels, Childcare
Childcare is an important area of social services for EPSU which aims to work together with affiliates, civil society and others to ensure accessible, affordable and quality childcare in Europe. The overwhelmingly female workforce is undervalued and the improving of pay and working conditions across the sector is crucial along with lobbying and campaigning for increased public investment and funding. EPSU has set up a childcare network to enable affiliates that organised in the sector to coordinate and exchange information.
Trade unions in the childcare sector organised a day of action on 30 March in protest at government proposals that they say would lead to a deterioration in service quality and working conditions. The unions are concerned about the prospect of an increase in staff/children ratios and failure to address issues related to skills, pay and career development. Meanwhile, in the latest stage of their campaign against the restructuring of the energy sector, the four trade unions – FNME-CGT, CFE-CGC Énergies, FO Énergie et Mines and FCE-CFDT – have called for a day of strike action and protests on 8
The government has put forward a proposal to set up a joint labour committee (JLC) that would determine minimum pay and working conditions for the childcare sector. Currently there is no sector bargaining covering childcare workers and unions have been campaigning for years to tackle low pay and precarious employment. JLCs are independent bodies that exist in sectors like security and cleaning where there is no sector bargaining. They issue employment regulation orders (ERO) setting minimum pay rates and conditions. SIPTU says that a JLC would provide an opportunity for the union and the IBEC
Following their strike action on 9 December last year, the four unions that organise in public administration – Fp-Cgil, Cisl-Fp, Uil-Fpl and Uil-Pa – are continuing to mobilise to secure a new collective agreement and for investment in the modernisation of the sector. The unions are calling for action on staffing not just to increase recruitment overall but also to reduce the extent of precarious contracts and to improve and increase the provision of training. Furthermore, they want measures in place to guarantee workers’ safety in view of the persistence of the pandemic.
The OSYE prison services union took six days of strike action at the end of February and beginning of March over key demands on safety and staffing. The union is particularly concerned about staff on long working hours and the massive backlog of rest days and holidays that are owed to workers who have done extra shifts to compensate for understaffing. EPSU sent a message of solidarity.
A new study of the impact of the pandemic in social care in eight countries reveals the problems faced by social care workers and the extent to which trade union action has helped to address issues around personal protective equipment (PPE), sick pay, working time and understaffing. There has been a shortage of PPE in all countries, but it was only in Sweden that a trade union had to take legal action for its members' right to use personal protective equipment. Increased overtime was a challenge in all countries but with split shifts being a particular problem in Sweden. The pandemic exposed
Workers in the SEPE public employment services are set to take two days of strike action in March to demand urgent action to address understaffing and overwork. The workers are represented by the FAC-USO public service union which has written to the Minister of Labour warning of the exhaustion faced by staff who have faced the massive increase in work over the past year in dealing with additional benefit payments and processes related to ERTE company restructuring schemes. So far, the ministry has acknowledged the problem of staffing but has not proposed a concrete solution. The union
The SIPTU trade union has just published findings from a survey of early years professionals showing that 43% of childcare workers are actively seeking another job due to low pay levels in the sector. The findings also show that 90% of workers struggle to make ends meet, 77% have no work sick pay scheme and just 10% receive paid maternity leave from their employer. More than seven in 10 workers have found dealing with COVID stressful while just over nine in 10 would consider leaving the profession in the next five years if there are no improvements in pay and conditions.
The ver.di trade union has warned of problems being created in childcare institutions because of a lack of clarity and consistency in rules that should apply during the current pandemic. The union says that it isn’t right to leave it up to parents and the local management of childcare facilities to decide on their own rules and this fails to ensure planned approach to address the incidence of the virus among children and the increase in sickness among staff. Ver.di argues that the plan adopted by the city of Bremen provides a good example of what is needed to be negotiated at national level in
The vida and GPA-djp trade unions have negotiated increases for minimum pay rates for workers in private childcare institutions that are not covered by collective agreements. Teachers and staff get a 1.95% while assistants will get a 2% increase. The unions are pleased that the increases are slightly above inflation and the trend in other agreements. Childminders will get a 2.5% rise and will now be entitled to an increase after every two years rather than three.
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
The SEP nurses’ union took part in a week of action (7-11 December) coordinated by the CGTP trade union confederation. For the SEP the key issues are precarious employment, recruitment and working time. The union wants to see all nurses on precarious contracts switched to permanent employment and argues that all nurses, regardless of contract, should accumulate points for their career progression. The SEP is also calling for increased recruitment, an end to 12-hour shifts and action to ensure a 35-hour week. Meanwhile, workers employed by the EGF waste company handed in a petition to the