Water, Low pay/minimum wages, Local government
On 13 July all nine trade union federations in the public service signed a new agreement on telework covering the whole of the public sector. The framework agreement requires employers across the three pillars of the public sector – local authorities, ministries and hospital services – to begin negotiations to implement the agreement at local level by 31 December this year. The agreement covers all the key issues relating to the voluntary nature and reversibility of telework, health and safety, gender equality, data security and privacy and working time and the right to disconnect. The
Local government union HK Kommunal has welcomed the decision by Solrød Municipality, south west of Copenhagen, to give their employees in administration the opportunity work a four-day week. Workers will have the choice whether they want to show up at the office, work from home or take a full day off. The only requirement is that they still have a working week of 37 hours. The municipality argues that it will help recruit and retain competent staff. The scheme starts from 1 September and will run over the next two years. The initiative follows that of the Odsherred Municipality, north west of
On 5 July a group of 13 Romanian trade unionists arrived in Brussels after a four-day rolling protest from Bucharest over the low wages that force many of their fellow citizens to make similar journeys to find decent work. The “Caravan of Social Rights” stopped in Budapest, Vienna, Munich and Luxembourg along the way to stage protests outside Romanian embassies with the support of local trade unions. GDP per capita in Romania is now 72% of the EU average, but Romanian workers’ pay is just 28% of the EU average and the minimum wage is just €281 a month when the cost of living is €572 a month
Municipal workers’ union Kommunal has welcomed new provisions in the crisis agreement negotiated with local and regional government employers. The agreement can be activated temporarily by the employers and was originally developed to deal with large forest fires but has been extended to any major crises such as floods, fires, electricity supply cuts or pandemics. The new agreement applies from 1 July and now limits how long an individual can be assigned to the agreement to ensure a proper recovery period. The main changes include: an employer may only activate the agreement if there is a need
Workers at the national water company, AdP, took strike action on 11 June over pay and long-standing problems with working conditions. The STAL trade union reported very high levels of support for the action with workers angry that company profits and investments have been increased while the situation for employees has deteriorated. The union is call for a €90 pay increase and minimum wage of €850; new measures on careers and professional development that value and recognize the knowledge, experience and commitment of workers; a progressive reduction of working hours to 35 hours a week
Public services union vpod/ssp has welcomed the referendum result which means that the Basel city region will implement a minimum wage of CHF 21 (EUR 19.20) per hour. The regional government will have to implement the result, including in public companies. The vpod says that the region pays some of its employees below the subsistence level, even though it supported the introduction of a minimum wage. The regional government must now start talks with the vpod’s Basel region and other social partners in order to implement the initiative quickly. The union argues that it is not just wages below
The SKVNS trade union has signed a new collective agreement in the municipal sector that will deliver a 5% pay increase, reimbursement of travel-to-work costs on public transport, 100% allowance for work on holidays and extra time off for parents. Meanwhile the SPGS firefighters’ union is planning a 48-hour strike on 30 June in protest at the government’s failure to engage in any proper social dialogue over a period of more than 14 months. The union wants to negotiate a collective agreement but also wants a guarantee that the government will also implement existing commitments.
The Eurofound research agency’s overview of minimum wage increases in 2021 finds lower increases than in 2020 but still with six countries in Central and Eastern Europe – Latvia, Slovenia, Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Lithuania – increasing rates by over 5%. Increases of 1%-5% were recorded in 11 Member States while rates were frozen in Belgium, Spain, Greece and Estonia. However, the cross-sector negotiations in Belgium recently included a commitment to increase the minimum in stages over the next six years. The median increase this year across Europe at 3% is well below the 8.4% figure for
In February 2021, the European Commission launched a new strategy on adaptation to climate change as part of the European Green Deal. The objective is to make the European Union a climate-resilient society, fully adapted to climate change by 2050.
After a final, lengthy round of bargaining, the cross-sector negotiations covering the private sector ended in the early hours of 8 June. The three trade union confederations are in the process of consulting with their members on the outcome. The main development is the proposed increase in the minimum wage – the first since 2008 – which will see an increase in the monthly amount from EUR 1625.72 to EUR 1702 in April 2022. There will be further increases in 2024 and 2026 which along with changes to taxation will mean net increases of EUR 100 and EUR 150. The deal also includes some