Government, trade unions and employers signed a new cross-sector agreement on 31 March that includes a wide range of provisions, among them three key points: adoption of the International Labour Organization Centenary Declaration on the Future of the World of Work; amendments to the Constitution covering the special role of social partnership in the regulation of social and labour relations; and the need to take into account the pandemic when formulating measures to protect workers. The agreement also highlights issues that need to be addressed in relation to public sector pay in order to
Collective Bargaining, Working Time
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 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 CSC/ACV and FGTB/ABVV trade union confederations are planning a day of protests and strikes on 29 March to push their claims in the stalled negotiations over the biennial agreement for the private sector. This follows two days of action in February in support of the unions’ demands to increase what they say is an unacceptable 0.4% margin for negotiations over and above what’s provided by indexation. The confederations are also calling for a higher minimum wage, action on careers and retirement and a review of the legislation that regulates pay negotiations in the private sector. The CGSLB
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
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
Trade unions have told the government that they reject any plans to end the single pay system across the public sector and strongly oppose any unilateral changes to pay or the creation of jobs and pay rates outside of the collective agreement. In response to government calls for more flexibility, the unions argue that there is already the potential for variable remuneration and adjustments to pay for specific jobs and occupations within the current system, but they are not used. The unions are also concerned that the government wants to treat certain public services differently and see this as
Respect for trade union rights, collective bargaining and social dialogue part of our democratic values – say North East European constituency unions
The EPSU affiliates of North East Europe expressed their concerns about developments in the region in the online meeting of the North East European constituency on 3 March. They received information about the situation in Armenia, Belarus, Georgia and Ukraine.
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 biennial cross-sector negotiations remain in stalemate with the employers refusing to budge on the 0.4% margin for negotiations. The confederations are arguing strongly that this is unacceptable and fails to recognise the differential impact of the pandemic across the economy and the need to acknowledge the additional risks faced by workers in dealing with the virus. A number of work stoppages and rallies took place across the country on 25 February to put pressure on the employers to come up with an improved offer.
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