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
Working Time, Staffing levels
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.
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
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
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 FOA trade union, as part of a joint negotiating committee of public service unions, has submitted the main bargaining demands to employers in municipal and regional government with the focus on tackling low pay and pay inequality. The aim is for a flat rate pay increase that will be more beneficial to lower paid workers along with funding to reduce the pay inequalities suffered by occupations dominated by women. The unions also want to ensure a real pay increase that will protect purchasing power over the three years of the agreement that is set to run from 1 April 2021. Other demands
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
The Fp-Cgil, Cisl-FP, Uil-Fpl and Uil-Pa public service federations are mobilising for the national strike on 9 December. The unions say that years of recruitment freezes have created staff shortages and mean that public services need around 500000 extra workers. The unions are also calling for action to increase permanent employment with around 170000 workers on precarious contracts. Health and safety are also vital with unions wanting action on personal protective equipment, reduced workloads and measures to tackle harassment. Finally, the federations are calling for a renewal of the
Following a government report on nursing and care, services union ver.di has called for urgent action for a long-term solution to understaffing across health and care institutions, particularly in light of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. In conjunction with hospital and care associations the union has already put forward a process for assessing staffing needs in hospitals and says that an academic proposal for evaluating staffing levels in eldercare has identified the need for an extra 100000 staff. Ver.di argues that measures are needed on training and pay and working conditions. It