COVID-19, Gender pay gap
Closing the gender pay gap
Gender equality is absolutely central to EPSU’s work as we fight to defend public services for the millions of women who rely on them and to tackle inequality faced by women working in those services. EPSU and its affiliates have focused on the need to reduce the gender pay as well as the other manifestations of gender equality in pensions and employment. An important factor in public services is the need to recognise the value of many jobs, like those in eldercare and childcare that are predominantly done by women and that have been seriously and unjustifiably undervalued for many years. This briefing, prepared for EPSU's 2019 Congress outlines some of EPSU's main activities on gender equality. EPSU has published research on the gender pay gap in the public services as well as the problem of low pay in sectors dominated by women. In 2021 EPSU is publishing the results of a research project on Closing the gender pay gap in public services in the context of austerity, with 20+ case studies (January 2021) and a briefing on “equal pay for equal work: the importance of gender neutral job classification and evaluation” (March 2021).
Unions representing workers across municipalities and regions are negotiating with the SKR and Sobona employer organisations on changes to the crisis agreement. The aim is to ensure that the agreement is better adapted to longer crisis situations, based on experience from the pandemic. The crisis agreement can be activated temporarily by the employers in special crisis situations and means that regular working hours are increased at the same time as staff receive higher compensation. The agreement also allows for special emergency overtime and relocation of staff. It was drawn up with short
The FOA trade union has welcomed the government decision to set up a committee to examine the problem of pay inequality. FOA has been part of a large group of trade unions that have been pushing for new measures to achieve pay equality. While collective bargaining has been able to deliver some improvements public service unions argue that the problem requires a broader political approach. The committee will analyse the pay gap across all sectors and is due to report in May 2022.
The Sanitas health union is calling on the government to offer permanent employment to the many medical and auxiliary workers who were taken on to help cope with the pandemic. These workers will see their contracts terminated once the end of the emergency is declared. The union argues that these workers have clearly demonstrated their skills and competences in helping to deal with the crisis with many facing high risks of infection and some even losing their lives to COVID. Sanitas also sees continuing staff shortages as another argument for offering these workers permanent employment.
Several unions representing workers in early years education came together on 5 May in a day of strike action and a demonstration in Brussels. Workers are angry about the impact of the pandemic on the sector and the failure of the authorities in the Wallonia and Brussels regions to address their concerns. The unions were also demanding a revaluation of pay in the sector and a range of other measures to deal with staffing issues, leave, contracts and increased public funding.
The PCS public and commercial services union reports strong support for its second round of strike action at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority in South Wales. Other unions and Labour MPs have backed the action which aims to secure improved health and safety provision at a workplace that has seen some of the highest rates of COVID infections anywhere in the country. Meanwhile the union is also celebrating a positive result from strike action taken by its members working in the court service but employed by the OCS multinational. They secured a new two-year agreement backdated to April
Tough bargaining in both the state and municipal sectors have ended up in mediation as employers fail to get close to the unions’ key demands. In the state sector unions were already concerned about the increasing gap between the low and high paid and the prospect of pay increases negotiated mainly at local level were seen as increasing the likelihood that the lower paid would again lose out. Public sector unions support the system where industry settlements set a benchmark and note that last year state workers got 0.5% less than the private sector. However, they also argue that the public