Two reports looking at union members’ views on digitalisation show that the lack of an employee perspective means that digital technology risks exacerbating existing problems at the workplace. An imbalance between the demands of new technology and the level of resources allocated to their introduction contributes to poor health and safety at work and high sick leave. The reports underline that employees need to be involved and also reveal that many union members do not believe that new digital tools meet the high expectations of increased efficiency and a better working environment. The
Getting to grips with digitalisation
Digitalisation has the potential to positively transform public services and the jobs of public service workers. Quicker and easier access to services and increased participation of citizens can be combined with better quality jobs as repetitive work is replaced with more fulfilling tasks. However, trade unions must be involved in the transformation process not just to ensure that workers have their fare share of the benefits of digitalisation but also to deal with the potential downside. This briefing, produced for EPSU's 2019 Congress, highlights some of the work done on this issue in recent years and sets out the current priorities.
The public service federations – Fp Cgil, Cisl Fp, Uilpa and Uil Fpl – want to ensure that as the move from obligatory to voluntary remote working takes place, all workers are provided with the appropriate protection so that they can enjoy the potential benefits and flexibility of remote working while helping to improve service delivery. The unions argue that workers should be guaranteed the same pay as those in the workplace, along with normal working hours and the right to disconnect. The federations acknowledge that the situation may vary across the public services and so negotiations may
The European Parliament (EP) has backed proposals to prevent platform companies from forcing workers into false self-employment and denying them rights to minimum wages, holiday and sick pay, and a secure employment contract. In recent years platform companies have lost a string of court cases over false self-employment, with the latest in the Netherlands where judges ruled “the legal relationship between Uber and these drivers meets all the characteristics of an employment contract.” The EP report supports a rebuttable presumption of an employment relationship for platform companies and
Public service trade unionists from across the Mediterranean region met online last week (14-15 September) to discuss the challenges they face in asserting their fundamental rights to organise, negotiate and take strike action.
On 27 August the KESK public services confederation organised a national strike in protest at the collective agreement signed by the government and the Memur Sen trade union. KESK has a range of key demands which the agreement fails to address and is angry that it was shut out of the negotiations. The confederation argues that the pay rises foreseen in the agreement are inadequate to ensure protection against inflation and it doesn’t include any measures to deal with employment security, workplace democracy or the right to proper collective bargaining. EPSU sent a solidarity message.
The ver.di services union has welcomed the decision of the Berlin labour court to reject an application for an injunction to block a planned strike in the health sector. Ver.di members at the Vivantes and Charité health providers in Berlin had been waiting 100 days for management to respond to calls to negotiate a collective agreement, planning strike action at the end of August if the employer missed the union’s deadline. The union had established a clear plan to prepare for the strike and the workers that would be involved but had to postpone the action for a day in order to attend the
A new report from the Eurofound research agency has found that teleworkers are twice as likely to exceed the 48-hour working time limit as workers onsite and are significantly more likely to work in their free time. This underlines the importance of securing a right to disconnect and the report looks at the experience of the first four Member States that introduced rules and agreements on the right to disconnect prior to 2021. These have demonstrated the pivotal role of the social partners in ensuring these rules are translated into reality on the ground. The report argues that new agreements
The European Commission has proposed a number of important instruments to shape digitalisation in the European Union. These are the target of the big technological firms like Amazon, Google and Facebook to ensure new regulations do not harm their business model.
EPSU joins coalition - Demanding technology that serves us and ends Big Tech’s destructive business model
EPSU joined Amnesty, Corporate Europe Observatory, European Youth Forum, Transparency International and many other organisations demanding changes to the European Commission’s flagship proposal the Digital Services Act (DSA).
The FeSP-UGT public services federation has signed an agreement with the Fresenius Medical Care company setting out a digital disconnection procedure, which will be applied to all workers in all Fresenius’s centres and clinics in Spain. It recognises the company's commitment to guarantee this right during holidays other days off and daily and weekly rest periods, based on the digital rights legislation of 2018. The union wanted to make sure there was a proper procedure for monitoring application of the agreement and dealing with issues such as emergency situations arising from staff shortages
The Hungarian government has issued two decrees removing the right to strike from air traffic control staff. An appeal court judgement of 20 July clearly confirmed the union’s legal right to strike. However, six days later the two decrees were published which not only dismiss the decision of the Hungarian Appeal Court but also violate Article 28 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) has condemned the Hungarian government and strongly maintains that collective representation and collective bargaining are basic labour rights
The vpod/ssp public services union has launched an initiative to support its local activists in mobilising to win better pay and conditions for health workers across the country. The strike at the CHUV University Hospital in Lausanne was the starting signal for the union’s “Road to Strike” organizing campaign. Vpod/ssp argues that the situation in health establishments has worsened due to the pandemic with many workers facing burnout and leaving the sector. The persistent staffing shortages undermine working conditions and further pressures come from private health companies’ search for profit
The ver.di services union has called a three-day warning strike from 23 August in the hospitals in Berlin run by the regional government’s Charité group, including its Vivantes subsidiaries. The union gave the employer 100 days to initiate collective bargaining to tackle overwork by hospital employees and trainees and to bring pay in line with the public service collective agreement in all Vivantes subsidiaries. The strike will go ahead if the deadline of 20 August is missed. Ver.di says that Charité has failed to make any serious offer and it has called on the employer to conclude agreements
The five national trade union confederations sent a solidarity message to the MESZK chamber of healthcare professionals in support of its protest march in Budapest on 31 July. The demonstrators called for pay increases for nurses in line with those already awarded to doctors and argued this was crucial to help stem the migration of nurses to western Europe. Earlier this year the five confederations also came together to file a complaint with the International Labour Organisation over the government’s imposition of new legislation which removes the rights to negotiate and take strike action