Public service workers across the UK have been involved in number of disputes over pay, jobs and safety. Waste workers in Birmingham and Doncaster are taking or planning action over pay and safety while cleaners at four hospitals in East London are continuting their campaign for a higher pay increase against outsourcing company Serco. Meanwhile in Sheffield members of the PCS civil service union are taking strike action in protest at the closure of a local Job Centre, part of a campaign against government proposals for closures across the country. Finally, janitors in schools across Glasgow
Low pay/minimum wages
The IMPACT and SIPTU trade unions are working hard to push childcare up the political agenda. IMPACT has just submitted a call for a major increase in childcare funding with an extra €125 million this year and €625 million over the next five years. The union wants to see the introduction of an agreed salary scale as an important contribution to the professionalisation of the sector. SIPTU is putting across similar demands in its Big Start campaign.
The STAL trade union reports a high level of support for strike action at the RESIESTRELA waste company part of the EGF multinational. The strike is over pay, a pay structure and the right to collective bargaining. The union says that workers at RESIESTRELA are the lowest paid in the EGF group with no developed pay or career structure. STAL has been raising these issues with EGF for many years but the company has refused to negotiate.
The UGT confederation has launched a campaign for a minimum wage of €1000 a month. This target was discussed earlier this year with the CCOO confederation and the PSOE socialist party. The UGT has set the target for negotiations in collective agreements and also to achieve for the national minimum wage by 2020. The confederation argues that the figure is entirely justified with 3.5% economic growth and businesses now seeing profits and dividends at pre-crisis levels. At the same time average salaries are more than 5% below their 2009 level in real terms.
An analysis by the European Trade Union Institute shows that wage convergence between East and West in Europe was steady up until 2008. However, since then the trend has either stalled or gone into reverse. Taking national average pay as a percentage of the average across the pre-2004 EU15, Croatia and Hungary show the largest increase in the pay gap since 2008. There were also increases in Slovenia, Czech Republic, Poland and Romania.Most progress was made in Bulgaria but from a very low level (11.8%) to 17.7%, still less than a fifth of average pay in the West.
Following a meeting with the French president over the summer, ETUC general secretary Luca Visentini is to meet French labour minister Muriel Pénicaud to discuss possible revisions to the Posted Workers Directive. This is an important piece of legislation that needs revision to ensure it is more effective in protecting the pay and conditions of workers who are on temporary assignments in other EU countries. The ETUC wants to see a guarantee of same salary for the same work in the same place and full entitlement of posted workers to all pay and conditions in collective agreements. Along with
The European Trade Union Institute has published an updated analysis of the treatment of social issues in the European Semester - the process of economic policy coordination. This reveals, for example, the extent to which the country-specific recommendations address the question of collective bargaining, with the European institutions calling for reforms in many countries, with the accent on decentralisation of bargaining despite the lack of evidence that this produces any economic benefits.
The health workers' union has called for increased funding for the sector to deal with the major problem of healthworkers' pay. The union reports that an analysis of wage developments in the first half of 2017 found that average pay for doctors and other medical staff actually fell in seven Russian regions while in contrast wages in industry increased. The wide range of salaries across the country is exacerbating staff shortages and the union highlights the fact that in many institutions the pay bill is the first to be cut in order to fund other areas of health spending.
The GPA-djp and vida private service trade unions met with the private care employers' organisation (SWÖ) to highlight the major staffing challenge facing the sector and the urgent need for additional funding to cover better pay and conditions to increase recruitment to the sector. The unions underlined the impact of serious staff shortages that are leading to increased workloads, burnout and stress for many care workers. They want to see legally enforceable staffing levels, that set minimum standards both in terms of numbers of staff with the appropriate qualifications.
EPSU affiliates in the Czech Republic took part in the national rally organised by the CMKOS confederation calling for an end to cheap labour. The rally marked the latest stage in the campaign begun by CMKOS in 2015 and tying in perfectly with the ETUC pay rise campaign launched in February this year. The confederation says that pay across the country has risen by 10% over the past two years and it is calling for a further increase of 10% for 2018.
The two groups of public sector unions organised in the Frente Comum and FESAP federations have agreed their main collective bargaining demands for 2018. There are several common issues with unions calling for measures to tackle precarious employment, to unblock opportunities for career progression and confirm a 35-hour week for all public sector workers. The unions want to see a pay rise in 2018 that will begin to compensate workers for the loss of purchasing power since 2009, with the Frente Comum calling for at least 4% while the FESAP demand is for at least 2.5%. The federations also want
Responding to a government consultation the IMPACT public services union has called for a number of initiatives on on equal pay and gender equality, including requirements on employers to report on the gender pay gap and recognition of employers who take action to reduce gender equality. The union has submitted detailed proposals for action to address pay for non-teaching staff in education including pay reviews and job evaluation for a range of staff such as special needs assistants and administrative and library staff, the vast majority of whom are women.
The JHL public services union says that it will aim for a flat-rate rather than a percentage pay rise in the upcoming bargaining round as a step towards closing the pay gap between the low and high paid. Another priority for the union is more control for workers over working time and shift work, seen as crucial to improve well-being at work. JHL will also be looking at initiatives to address the cut in holiday bonus in the public sector and action on zero-hours contracts.
A new survey published by public services union Unison exposes the pressure faced by home care workers and their precarious working conditions.Three-quarters (75%) of care workers said they had too little time to provide proper care because they are too rushed, often because employers pressure them to fit in an excessive number of visits.The report also highlights the job insecurity faced by home care workers with more than half (52%) on zero hours contracts, and more than three in five (63%) not getting paid for the time it takes to travel between care visits.