COVID-19, Recruitment & organising
Strong public service unions are vital if we are to stand up for our values and our vision in our workplaces, sectors and communities. They are crucial in dealing with national, European and global institutions and in representing public service workers in national trade union centres and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). EPSU affiliates are more effective in negotiating and campaigning where they can count on an active membership, high union density or broad support from workers.
EPSU has been taking a range of initiatives to support affiliates, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe, to build union power by developing recruitment and organising strategies and campaigns. This briefing, prepared for the 2019 Congress, covers recent work and current priorities. Our Organising and Campaigns staff, Agnieszka Ghinararu and Miloš Vlaisavljević, are working with affiliates to help them with advice, support and training and keeping them informed about new ideas on recruitment and organising methods.
Unions representing workers across municipalities and regions are negotiating with the SKR and Sobona employer organisations on changes to the crisis agreement. The aim is to ensure that the agreement is better adapted to longer crisis situations, based on experience from the pandemic. The crisis agreement can be activated temporarily by the employers in special crisis situations and means that regular working hours are increased at the same time as staff receive higher compensation. The agreement also allows for special emergency overtime and relocation of staff. It was drawn up with short
The Sanitas health union is calling on the government to offer permanent employment to the many medical and auxiliary workers who were taken on to help cope with the pandemic. These workers will see their contracts terminated once the end of the emergency is declared. The union argues that these workers have clearly demonstrated their skills and competences in helping to deal with the crisis with many facing high risks of infection and some even losing their lives to COVID. Sanitas also sees continuing staff shortages as another argument for offering these workers permanent employment.
Several unions representing workers in early years education came together on 5 May in a day of strike action and a demonstration in Brussels. Workers are angry about the impact of the pandemic on the sector and the failure of the authorities in the Wallonia and Brussels regions to address their concerns. The unions were also demanding a revaluation of pay in the sector and a range of other measures to deal with staffing issues, leave, contracts and increased public funding.
The PCS public and commercial services union reports strong support for its second round of strike action at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority in South Wales. Other unions and Labour MPs have backed the action which aims to secure improved health and safety provision at a workplace that has seen some of the highest rates of COVID infections anywhere in the country. Meanwhile the union is also celebrating a positive result from strike action taken by its members working in the court service but employed by the OCS multinational. They secured a new two-year agreement backdated to April