May. 04, 2020 On 28 and 29 April, the ver.di union, representing health and care workers, organised a photo action, projecting photos of care workers on key buildings including the ministry of health and parliament. The union was drawing attention to the work being done by hundreds of thousands of workers across health and social care despite the risks and often without adequate personal protective equipment. According to the union at least 42 health and care staff have died as a result of COVID-19. While welcoming the EUR 1500 bonus paid to staff in elder care, the union points out that not only have many health and other social care workers not received any bonus, but more importantly action needs to be taken in the longer term to improve pay and conditions across the sector.
May. 04, 2020 The Sanidad-CCOO and FeSP-UGT public service federations have called for a range of actions in the elder care sector in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Both federations were already campaigning to secure better pay and conditions for the workforce, 90% of which are women. They both argue that the impact of the pandemic has further exposed the fundamental problems of low pay, inadequate staffing, stress, excessive workloads. These have been compounded by the lack of personal protective equipment and inadequate testing which have exposed both workers and service users to the virus. Key union demands include an audit of care homes, higher pay and increased staffing, more funding from central government and a greater role for the public sector.
Apr. 30, 2020
On Wednesday, 29 April, Jan-Willem Goudriaan was invited to represent EPSU in a high level exchange with European Commissioners Nicolas Schmit, Stella Kyriakides, Dubravka Šuica and Helena Dalli.
Apr. 24, 2020 The OSZSP health and social care union has joined with the doctors' union in calling for a bonus for employees of hospitals, emergency medical services, social services facilities and public health protection authorities, who provide health and social services to patients and clients with COVID-19, or are at risk of COVID-19 infection. The three levels of monthly bonus would reflect the degree of risk faced by the worker and would start at CSK 20000 (EUR 730), rising to CSK 30000 (EUR 1100) and then CZK 40000 (EUR 1645). The initial response from the prime minister is to acknowledge that health and social care employees are a priority group for the government. The union is also in talks with social service employers.
Apr. 24, 2020 A new collective agreement covering the 75000 workers in the state sector has been agreed, running 23 months from 1 April 2020 to 28 February 2022. The pay rise over the period will be 3.07% in line with other pay increases in the current bargaining round. Negative elements introduced during the so-called competitiveness pact with the then right-wing government in 2016 have been removed. From now on the annual holiday bonus will be paid in full (it was cut by 30% in each of the last three years) and the 24 hours of extra unpaid work each year will also end although there is a provision for extra hours to be worked but at normal pay. Meanwhile, there are major disagreements, including on the overall pay increase, in the negotiations in local government that cover 310000 workers.
Apr. 22, 2020 The vida and GPA-djp services unions have negotiated a pay and hours deal for 125000 workers in the private health and social care sector. Pay will increase by 2.7% this year backdated to 1 February and then by inflation plus 0.6% from 1 January 2021. The unions had been demanding a 35-hour week for all workers in the sector and this remains a target. The new agreement, however, does provide for a 37-hour week from 1 January 2022. With weekly pay staying the same for full-time workers this will mean a higher hourly rate and part-time workers will be compensated with an additional increase of 2.7%. This year workers who have been dealing with patients infected with COVID-19 will get a bonus of EUR 500.
Apr. 09, 2020 Seven trade union organisations have called on the government to urgently address the critical lack of personal protective equipment in health and social care. The unions also raise serious concerns about the threats of disciplinary action against workers who refuse to work in dangerous situations or who want to talk publicly about the lack of equipment. They want the government to work with the unions to tackle the crisis and to do this it needs to guarantee transparency on procurement, distribution, timescales and exactly how and when workers can expect to get the protection they need and deserve. Unions have also raised concerns that PPE supply to care homes is still inadequate following a government announcement that 8 million items had been distributed to the sector. Unions have also approached the government to launch a coordinated effort to use more manufacturing capacity to produce PPE.
Apr. 09, 2020 The FNV public service union wrote to the government on 7 April raising serious concerns about the situation in care homes with many lacking personal protective equipment (PPE). While many care workers face long hours, the union has also raised the issue of other workers seeing their hours cut. This arises if home care workers are asked to stay away by their clients and/or they cannot provide care because of lack of PPE. The FNV is clear that neither of these is the fault of the employee and so cuts in hours should be out of the question. It argues that many workers in this situation can be transferred to other work. The union has also announced that the collective agreement for the sector was declared generally binding on 8 April and so covers all employers in the sector, not just those who are members of the VVT employers' organisation. The FNV has raised similar issues in the health sector, again with concerns over PPE but also over the need to clarify health and safety protocols which are currently unclear as to what a worker should do if concerned about infecting or being infected by a patient. The FNV highlights the fact that many staff were already under pressure before the crisis and mental strains have only increased and that this needs to be recognised by the government. The union has called for improved pay and working conditions, a guarantee that funding will be maintained across the system and that all planned restructuring is put on hold.
Apr. 08, 2020 The impact of the crisis on health staff has been highlighted by public services trade unions as the evidence from the CFDT shows. The union is pushing for official recognition of COVID-19 as an occupational disease and for a fund to be set up to deal with the long-term effects. Trade unions are pushing hard for more personal protective equipment and the CGT has given a formal notice of potential strike action across the public services to allow its members to take action where they feel that there is a real threat to workers and citizens. Action has already been taken in the care sector, for example, by workers at a care home in Le Havre who have been overwhelmed by the catastrophic situation there. Meanwhile, the FO trade union has launched a general legal action challenging the failure to take adequate action to address the emergency and calling on those responsible to face up to the deaths and infections that have resulted. For UNSA, its calls for increased protection, particularly for health workers, have been echoed by the independent and influential Académie Nationale de Médecine.
Apr. 08, 2020 The public service union ver.di and care sector employers' organisation BVAP have agreed on a EUR 1500 payment for all care workers in recognition of the work they have been doing during the COVID-19 crisis. The payment will be made in July and part-time workers will get a proportional amount while trainees will get EUR 900. The payment will go to all nurses, carers and assistants working in long-term and home care and the aim is to make it generally binding and so covering also any commercial and other providers who are not members of BVAP. Ver.di and the employers are in the process of negotiating a collective agreement for the sector for the first time. Ver.di has also negotiated a short-time working agreement with the VKA municipal employers' organisation. While the threats of job and/or hours cuts are not affecting many public services, such as health, care, employment services and social security, others, such as sports and culture and local transport have been hit hard by closures and reduced activity. The agreement is effective from 1 April and runs until the end of the year. Most workers - those on pay grades 1-10, will get 95% of their take-home pay while those on the highest pay grade (11) will get 90%. Employers covered by the agreement will not be able to make any compulsory redundancies for the period short-time work and the following three months.
Mar. 05, 2020 The FOA trade union highlights figures from the VIVE research organisation that show massive variations in staffing levels in eldercare establishments across the country. The staff to resident ratio at night ranges from 1:8 to 1:41, while the evening shift ratio varies from 1:2.7 to 1:11. The variation of ratios on day shifts is less dramatic but still ranges from 1:1.4 to 1:4.2. FOA argues that the varying needs of residents can't account for such variations and that in many cases homes have failed to increase staffing to cope with the higher demands of older residents with health problems. The union is calling for national standards to tackle the problem.
Mar. 05, 2020 The UNISON, Unite and RCN health trade unions have voted to approve a new agreement on pay and staffing in Northern Ireland. The three unions were involved in various forms of industrial action at the end of last year, including the first full strike action in the RCN's history. The unions now have agreement that pay rates in Northern Ireland will be increased to be in line with those in England and measures will be discussed to increase staffing. A fourth union NIPSA did not support the pay deal but recognises that there was a majority vote in favour. In the meantime it is continuing its campaign around staffing levels, particularly in social services.
Mar. 05, 2020 The FESAP and Frente Comum federations of public sector trade unions are planning strike action on 20 March in protest at the pay increase implemented by the government which is worth only 0.3% for most workers. The FESAP federation is also planning a number of other initiatives including testimonies of individual workers about the difficulties they face as a result of the long-term pay freeze and low increases that they have suffered. These will be sent to the government. A national action is also planned for 19 March and conference on the future of the public service on 30 March.