Trade unions representing workers in public and private sector childcare and after-school provision organised a demonstration outside the ministry of education on 27 May in protest at the failure of the government to include trade unions in the Advisory Board for Elementary Education. The unions argue that it is unacceptable not to ensure that the views of the 61500 workers in the sector are taken into account when developing education policy, particularly in the light of the exceptional commitment they have shown during the pandemic.
Early Childhood Education and Care, Restructuring
A survey of student early years educators, carried out by the SIPTU trade union, found that one third intended to leave the sector, with low pay the main issue forcing them into a change of career or into working abroad. A massive 94% of students don’t believe the current wages in the sector are fair. Of the 945 people surveyed, over half are currently working in the sector as well as studying and of these 47% are earning below the living wage of €12.30 per hour. The union wants to see a publicly funded model of early years education and childcare which includes a mechanism for ensuring
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.
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
Services union ver.di has successfully fought off attempts by the Nord Residenz care company to shut down the works council. On 27 April, the regional labour court in Bremen in North West Germany ruled against the company’s attempts to dismiss the works council chair and her deputy, expel them from the works council and dissolve the works council itself. Nord Residenz is owned by the French multinational Orpea. Ver.di welcomed the many messages of solidarity support from trade unions across Europe and interventions by the state government and mayor of Bremen. Meanwhile, the union faces a major
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
The impact of the pandemic has led to restructuring of some care homes in the Brussels region where employers are arguing that declining occupation rates and costs of anti-COVID measures are making some homes unviable. The Armonea (Colisée) group has announced plans to close one facility (Sebrechts) with the loss of 108 jobs while unions at the Senior Living Group, part of the Korian multinational, are looking at ways to avoid compulsory redundancies with a range of measures. The unions at the Sebrecht care home have issued a strike notice and there is determination to fight what is seen as a
A new agreement between unions, employers and the Flemish government has delivered a range of benefits for workers in various health and social services in the non-profit sector. Overall, there will be the equivalent of 3,716 new posts to help tackle high workloads. There will be a general 1.7% increase in wages but with some additional increases for those on the lowest pay rates and those will long service. In elderly care, the rehabilitation sector, psychiatric care homes and sheltered living initiatives, there will be a new pay structure from 1 July 2021, bringing pay rates in alignment
Trade unions in the childcare sector organised a day of action on 30 March in protest at government proposals that they say would lead to a deterioration in service quality and working conditions. The unions are concerned about the prospect of an increase in staff/children ratios and failure to address issues related to skills, pay and career development. Meanwhile, in the latest stage of their campaign against the restructuring of the energy sector, the four trade unions – FNME-CGT, CFE-CGC Énergies, FO Énergie et Mines and FCE-CFDT – have called for a day of strike action and protests on 8
The government has put forward a proposal to set up a joint labour committee (JLC) that would determine minimum pay and working conditions for the childcare sector. Currently there is no sector bargaining covering childcare workers and unions have been campaigning for years to tackle low pay and precarious employment. JLCs are independent bodies that exist in sectors like security and cleaning where there is no sector bargaining. They issue employment regulation orders (ERO) setting minimum pay rates and conditions. SIPTU says that a JLC would provide an opportunity for the union and the IBEC
The SIPTU trade union has just published findings from a survey of early years professionals showing that 43% of childcare workers are actively seeking another job due to low pay levels in the sector. The findings also show that 90% of workers struggle to make ends meet, 77% have no work sick pay scheme and just 10% receive paid maternity leave from their employer. More than seven in 10 workers have found dealing with COVID stressful while just over nine in 10 would consider leaving the profession in the next five years if there are no improvements in pay and conditions.
Following mobilisations on 14 and 19 January in protest at restructuring plans affecting the ENGIE and EDF energy companies, trade unions have set dates for further action in February. The four energy unions are planning joint mobilisations on 4, 10 and 11 February to coincide with key debates in parliament. Strike action is planned for the 10th when the head of EDF will be taking part in parliamentary hearing. The unions have also been lobbying MPs, 83 of whom have joined with the unions in sending a letter to the government protesting against the EDF “Hercule” restructuring project.
On 19 January trade unions in the energy sector took further action in their campaign against the “Hercule” restructuring project in EDF, the main energy provider in France. EPSU and industriAll Europe sent a joint letter expressing their support for the unions, arguing that the plans pose a major threat to the company, its workers and the provision of energy as a public service. Meanwhile, unions representing health and social care also continued their protests on 12 and 21 January. A key issue is ensuring that pay increases awarded last year cover all health and social care workers