(January 2017) There was strong support for a health workers' strike on 20 January with unions calling for action on pay, career development and the application of the 35-hour week for all public service workers. On 3 February non-teaching staff in schools and kindergartens plan a 24-hour strike with demands to tackle precarious employment, to increase recruitment and create a proper career structure.
Negotiating and campaigning on working time
After pay, working time is core collective bargaining issue but is also an important area of employment regulated by national and European legislation. EPSU has been very active in defending and calling for proper implementation of the Working Time Directive and is involved in current debates on working time. The why and how of working time reduction is a guide produced for EPSU by the European Trade Union Institute and examines long-term trends in working time, the arguments for reducing it and examples of how this has been achieved.
(January 2017) White-collar union Vision has set out its main bargaining demands in its negotiations with the KFS organisation for local enterprises. The union wants to see competitive salaries and action to improve well-being at work. It also wants employees to be on permanent contracts with employers providing objective justifications for any use of fixed-term contracts of agency staff. Longer paid holidays, individual working time accounts and shorter hours for workers in establishment requiring 24-hour cover are also among the demands.
(January 2017) The European Commission has announced that it will issue an Interpretative Communication on the Working Time Directive. This means that, at least for the time being, the Commission has no plans to launch a revision of the Directive. The Communication will bring together information on the major European Court of Justice rulings on the Directive and include other information that the Commission says will help clarify issues and aid implementation. The initial reaction of the ETUC delegation that was invited to a meeting at very short notice was that this could be a positive
(May 2017) The STAL local government union is calling for an immediate pay increase of 4% (minimum EUR 50) to address the loss of purchasing power of local government workers. The union says that pay levels remain lower than they were in 2010. The union has a number of other demands in including unfreezing career progression. Meanwhile the FNSTFPS civil service federation called a national strike on 26 May with similar demands including a guarantee that all workers in the public service have a right to the 35-hour week.
(May 2017) The FNV and NU'91 trade unions have negotiated a new collective agreement covering 80000 workers in the mental health care sector. The agreement runs from 1 March 2017 to 1 July 2019 and includes a 4% pay increase - 1.65% this year and 1.88% next year with an extra 0.25% coming in end-of-year bonuses. The agreement also includes measures to address problems of overwork and long working hours with a checklist to assess the health impact and sustainability of workers' rosters. There are also measures to improve the provision and scope of training.
(November 2016) The GPA-djp and vida services unions have indicated the main collective bargaining aims as negotiations get underway in the private health and social care sector which covers over 100000 workers. The unions want a real increase in pay for all workers and particular for a range of care professions where additional competences have been outlined in revised legislation. The unions also want shorter hours for many workers to establish the 35-hour week in the sector while at the same time allowing the many, mainly women workers, on part-time contracts to increase their hours if they
(November 2016) Energy unions have agreed a new collective agreement and ended their strike over rest periods. The new collective agreement increases minimum wage rates and allows for local bargaining around a 2.4% pay increase. The strike was over an attempt by the employers' organisation to reduce rest periods for workers who have been on call. In the end it was agreed to negotiate this at company level where the unions are positive about maintaining the appropriate rest periods.
(November 2016) Four of the trade union organisations in public services (CGT, FAFP, FSU and Solidaires) are mobilising for a day of action on 29 November. They are raising a number of long-standing demands including pay increases to compensate for loss of purchasing power since 2010, action to improve pay for jobs and sectors dominated by women to close the gender pay gap and measures to reduce precarious working conditions and defend working time arrangements.
(October 2016) Energy unions have stepped up their industrial action against the KS employers' organisation as they attempt to fight off plans to cut rest days from three to two following seven-day periods on stand-by. The unions argue that maintaining the grid network is demanding work and the rest period is crucial to enable workers to recuperate. The intenfication of the strike action may lead to power cuts but the unions will ensure emergency provision where necessary.
(October 2016) The European Commission's 2017 includes plans to publish an interpretative communication and implementation report on the Working Time Directive. Proposals on the Directive have been expected for some time since the Commission carried out surveys and consultations in late 2014 and 2015. The Commission is proposing a non-legislative initiative that will provide legal clarity (see REFIT Scoreboard page 353). It talks of health and safety but also of "alleviating administrative burdens".
EPSU Executive Committee addresses Tax Justice, Brexit, situation in Turkey, CETA, elects new leadership and much more
We have a new President in EPSU. Isolde Kunkel-Weber from the German union Ver.di was elected and will take over from Annelie Nordstrom. Mette Nord from the Norwegian union Fagforbundet was elected vice-President.
(May 2017) The four unions that organise care workers in the public (GÖD and younion) and private (vida and GPA-djp) sectors have come together to organise a national demonstration on 12 May. The key demands of the protest are for better funding for care and action to deal with the excessive workloads, stress and long working hours of many care workers. The unions want to see action to tackle staff shortages and national legislation on staffing levels.