Staffing levels, Digitalisation
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.
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 four trade unions representing health and social care workers in the public and private sectors – younion, GÖD, vida and GPA-djp – have written an open letter to national and regional governments calling for urgent action on training. The unions say that an additional 75000 trained workers will be need in the sectors by 2030 and that measures need to be taken to increase the number of trainees to help meet the demand. Unlike other professions, health and care trainees are not paid when they are working on the job during their training. The unions argue that this is a major disincentive to
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
The younion and GÖD public sector unions, representing around 120000 workers in health and social care have called on the Austrian Chancellor to stand by his commitment to improve pay for those working in intensive care during the pandemic. The two unions underline that their demand covers all health and care workers, not just intensive care staff, as they are all part of an essential team and need to work together to deliver care and who have endured significant physical and mental challenges in maintaining services. Younion and GÖD are calling for a tax-free €1000 bonus for all health and
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.
Public service union, younion has joined with private service unions GPA and vida as well as the ÖGB trade union confederation and Chamber of Labour to call on the government to take urgent steps to increase training in the childcare and after-school care sector. The unions point out that inadequate staffing levels were apparent before the pandemic but have become more acute and overburdened staff need the reassurance that newly trained staff will soon be recruited. They underline the fact that many workers in the sector are thinking about leaving and that a wave of retirements is also
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
Following their strike action on 9 December last year, the four unions that organise in public administration – Fp-Cgil, Cisl-Fp, Uil-Fpl and Uil-Pa – are continuing to mobilise to secure a new collective agreement and for investment in the modernisation of the sector. The unions are calling for action on staffing not just to increase recruitment overall but also to reduce the extent of precarious contracts and to improve and increase the provision of training. Furthermore, they want measures in place to guarantee workers’ safety in view of the persistence of the pandemic.
The OSYE prison services union took six days of strike action at the end of February and beginning of March over key demands on safety and staffing. The union is particularly concerned about staff on long working hours and the massive backlog of rest days and holidays that are owed to workers who have done extra shifts to compensate for understaffing. EPSU sent a message of solidarity.
A new study of the impact of the pandemic in social care in eight countries reveals the problems faced by social care workers and the extent to which trade union action has helped to address issues around personal protective equipment (PPE), sick pay, working time and understaffing. There has been a shortage of PPE in all countries, but it was only in Sweden that a trade union had to take legal action for its members' right to use personal protective equipment. Increased overtime was a challenge in all countries but with split shifts being a particular problem in Sweden. The pandemic exposed