In the wake of the global financial crisis, neoliberal restructuring has continued unabated across Europe, with the privatisation of public services a key element of both national austerity policies, and European Union (EU) – level economic governance structures.
The GSEE and ADEDY private and public sector trade union confederations organised a 24-hour general strike on 10 June in protest at draft legislation on labour law changes. The confederations are particularly concerned that the new law will allow individual worker contracts that will undermine the eight-hour day and increase overtime. They are also protesting over further attacks on the right to strike and the weakening of the labour inspectorate. EPSU sent a solidarity message. Meanwhile, the OME-EYDAP water trade union has been mobilising to resist job cuts and other threats to pay and
Unions representing staffing in provincial government, including FNV, have suspended negotiations following what they regard as an unacceptable pay offer from the employers of only 0.6%, with inflation currently at 1.9%. They have now launched a petition to get broad support from staff and get negotiations back on track. Noting that productivity has increased with a significant rise in telework, they are looking for a 2.5% pay increase, a fair homeworking allowance and measures on sustainable employability.
Trade unions representing workers in the public finance directorate (DGFiP) will be taking strike action on 10 May in protest at the continuing restructuring of the organisation and to defend workers’ rights and working conditions. The unions say that 30000 jobs have been cut since 2008 and a long-running process of restructuring has been carried out with digitalisation a key driver. They want a hold on restructuring and relocation and are concerned that the digital transformation and other changes are having a negative impact not just on the workforce but also on the quality of service. The
In February this year, the Supreme Court in the UK ruled that Uber, the driving, and delivery platform, should treat its drivers as workers and not as self-employed. This follows a trend across Europe where courts in several countries have forced digital platforms to revise the employment relationship with the workers providing their services. Platform work is changing the economic and social landscape, revolutionising the way services are delivered while raising major questions about social and labour rights.
The FNV trade union reports that pay rates for water authority workers are set to increase by EUR 50, backdated to 1 January 2021. There will also be two increases of 0.5% to the individual choice budget (IKB) as of 1 January and 1 July. The union says that on average, this amounts to a 2.05% salary increase. The personal basic budget (PBB) will be increased from EUR 5,000 to at least EUR 6,000 for five years. The IKB and PBB can be used to exchange salary for other benefits such as annual leave. The new agreement also includes provisions on standby duty allowance and parental leave
Unions in the AdP – Águas de Portugal – water company will be planning mobilisations and potential strike action unless the company responds to some key demands. The STAL trade union reports that many issues have remained unsolved for several years. Unions accuse the company of making excuses for its failure to properly implement the collective agreement signed almost two and a half years ago, with no pay rise since November 2018 and no plans to introduce the allowance for dangerous and arduous work that it now being applied across many municipalities. The unions submitted a review of the
Public services union Fórsa has asked the government to open negotiations over an agreement on remote working. The union notes that there have been some positive outcomes from the recent increase in telework as a result of the pandemic, but an agreement is needed to regulate what could be a long-term shift in the organisation of work across the public sector. Fórsa has set out some key elements for the agreement which include, among others: agreed guidelines for identifying functions that can be performed remotely; fair access and the right to request remote work; right to decline remote work
After the surge in remote working as a result of the pandemic, trade unions in Ireland, Russia and Spain have welcomed new initiatives, including legislation and collective agreements, that regulate telework. Research by the Eurofound research agency also looks into the negative and positive implications of telework for workers’ autonomy and work-life balance raising again the challenges to ensure that workers have control over their working time and underlining the importance of current discussions at European level on the right to disconnect.
The ambiguous effects of telework In 2017, a joint report from the Eurofound research agency and the International Labour Organization observed that advances in digital technology were making it easier to work anytime and anywhere. The phenomenon of telework and mobile work has been increasing