Environment/Climate Change, Childcare
Responding to the challenge of climate change
Climate change, the largest single threat to current and future generations, is posing fundamental challenges for public services and public service workers. In recent years, we have seen extreme weather events, flooding and forest fires for example, leading to loss of life and widespread damage and destruction of buildings and infrastructure. Our members across many services have been part of the immediate and longer term response – in emergency and rescue services, energy and water, local and regional government. EPSU has been working hard to influence policies at global and European level aimed at decarbonising our economies and calling for a shift away from growth at all costs. It is essential that we achieve a more sustainable society is achieved through a just transition whereby no one is left behind.
This briefing, produced for EPSU's 2019 Congress, sets out the federation's recent activity on climate change and current priorities. EPSU has published research focusing on some of the key issues and policy developments including its position on the EU's Green Deal, the failure of energy liberalisation to address climate change and an analysis of action on climate change adaptation.
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
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
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