Over 1400 workers, members of the PCS civil service union, took strike action from 6-9 April in protest at the failure to address safety issues at the Driver Vehicle and Licensing Agency (DVLA) in Swansea in South Wales. Over 600 DVLA employees have tested positive for COVID since last September with no effective response from management or the Department of Transport (DoT). Following the strike the union has called for immediate talks to resume with the DoT and will be discussing next steps with members.
Working Time, Strike
Negotiating and campaigning on working time
After pay, working time is core collective bargaining issue but is also an important area of employment regulated by national and European legislation. EPSU has been very active in defending and calling for proper implementation of the Working Time Directive and is involved in current debates on working time. The why and how of working time reduction is a guide produced for EPSU by the European Trade Union Institute and examines long-term trends in working time, the arguments for reducing it and examples of how this has been achieved.
Six trade unions are coming together to take strike action over jobs and precarious employment in the public sector in the Basque region. The unions are responding to the failure of the regional government to address public employment and the persistently high levels of temporary contracts across the public sector. Action is planned for 22 April across all the main public services – municipalities, health, education, general administration, justice, public transport, public media and other sectors. The unions want to see the thousands of temporary workers who have been crucial to tackling the
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
A survey of the membership of the SEKO trade union in the energy sector reveals that the working environment has deteriorated in the years since deregulation. It found problems with, among other things, risks of working alone, stress and increasing overtime. The survey identified differences between those directly employed by energy companies and those working for construction companies where 54% believe that their work environment is negatively affected by the current procurement system, compared with 34% of those who are employed by a plant owner. Furthermore, in construction companies, 42%
Five firefighters are set to receive a total of almost half a million euros in compensation following a victory in a legal case on working time supported by their union, JHL. The city of Jyväskylä will have to pay the unpaid wages and the costs incurred by the union. The Labour Court ruled unanimously that the firefighters should have been paid in full for working time for periods on standby. In a system in force between January 2004 and the end of March 2016, the firefighters were required to arrive at the fire station within five minutes of the alarm being sounded. The court ruled that five
The collective agreement on pay and working time in emergencies is being applied across several regions in response to the continuing spread of the COVID-19 virus. The agreement was negotiated across the public services in 2019 in response to what at the time were the demands placed on fire and rescue services by forest fires. It covers, among other things, the increase of regular working hours to a maximum of 48 hours per week and provides for additional payments with special emergency overtime permitted on top of regular working hours. The agreement also enables the hiring and lending of
Four health unions are planning a day of strikes and protests on 8 April in their continuing campaign to ensure that the pay rises agreed in the “Ségur” package negotiated last year are extended to all workers in health and social care. The unions argue that there are still large numbers of public sector employees, around 300,000 in the private non-profit sector and some 250,000 home care workers who have not been guaranteed a EUR 183 pay increase. They are calling on the government to open negotiations immediately to address this issue and tackle the long-standing problem of declining working
The Fagforbundet public services union is celebrating a positive result after 30 days of strike action by some of its members in the private health sector. The aim of the strike was to ensure that agreements in the sector kept pay in line with the public sector. This was achieved including an historic rise in the minimum wage up by NOK 80000 (EUR 7800) to NOK 300000 (EUR 29250). The strike action was challenged by the NHO employers’ organisation, but the Labour Court ruled that the strike was legal and not in breach of the peace obligation. The union and employers are now committed to further
PCS, the largest union in the civil service, has negotiated a three-year deal covering workers in the HMRC department (revenues and customs), the third largest section of the civil service with around 60000 workers. The deal includes an average 13% increase in pay over three years: with 3% paid in March 2021 and backdated to June 2020; a further 5% payable from June 2021; and a further 5% payable from June 2022. The pay award is significantly weighted towards providing major increases for the lowest paid. The agreement also allows for significant progression through the various pay ranges for
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
The government has imposed compulsory arbitration in a dispute between unions representing health and care staff in the private and non-profit sector and the NHO employers’ organisation. The unions were taking strike action in support of their demand for higher pay rates that would bring pay in line with comparable collective agreements in health and care. The NHO was refusing to negotiate and then the national health board intervened claiming that the dispute was posing a danger to life and health. Each side will now present evidence to an independent wages board whose decision will then be
The Fagforbundet and FO trade unions have called workers out on strike in the private care sector. The dispute covers a range of services such as substance abuse, psychiatry, child welfare, nursing and care, and includes for-profit and non-profit organizations. The NHO employers’ organisation is refusing to offer pay increases that would ensure that workers are on pay levels comparable to the same occupations in other agreements. The unions are concerned that the NHO agreement is falling behind and say that some employers have switched to the agreement specifically to take advantage of the