The GPA-djp private services union is campaigning to defend workers' rights on working time and against pressure from employers for more flexibility in working time legislation and a move to a 12-hour maximum working day. The union points out that Austrian workers already have a 41.5-hour working week on average, among the highest in Europe, and often have to work overtime at short notice. The GPA-djp also highlights the evidence of increased health and safety risks once the working day goes over nine hours.
Gas, Work-life balance
Members of the FNV trade union at the Kwadrant care company have made some progress on their demands for action on jobs and overwork (see epsucob@NEWS no.15). In an initial meeting with management the workers have at least been given a commitment that travel time between clients will be fully paid working time. They will have to wait until 1 October to find out if the company will respond to their key demand not to cut jobs and to tackle the heavy workloads faced by many carers. The union has organised a petition among workers to highlight the problems they face.
In the run-up to negotiating a new collective agreement covering 80000 workers in the childcare sector, the FNV trade union has published the results of a survey that reveal excessive flexibility in working hours and too many fixed-term contracts as major issues for childcare workers. The union argues that many workers have so few set hours that they can be called on at short notice to work additional hours, creating uncertainty and stress. With the increasing demand for workers in the sector the FNV argues that these issues need to be addressed if more qualified workers are to be recruited.
Member of the services union ver.di working in several hospitals across the country took strike action on 19 September as part of the union's campaign on safe staffing levels and reducing workloads. EPSU general secretary Jan Willem Goudriaan sent a message of support, underlining the importance of protecting the well-being of both health workers and patients by taking urgent action to reduce staff shortages in the sector estimated at over 160000, including over 70000 frontline care workers.
Following votes across all the public sector unions, a majority (14), accounting for 80% by membership supported the new agreement on pay and conditions with three voting against. The three-year deal includes six pay increases (two targeted at the lower paid only) and will mean that the majority of public sector workers (73%) will see an overall increase of 7% by the end of the agreement. There is a range of other conditions that have been confirmed as part of the deal including the retention of outsourcing protections, the option to negotiate on returning to a shorter working week and
The HK Kommunal municipal union has received plenty of input from members and activists as it prepares its claim for the upcoming negotiations. Over 7000 contributions with 20000 suggestions have been submitted to the union covering a wide range of pay and conditions. Some of the key issues highlighted by the union include the need to maintain competence funds that provide for education and training and the call for action to tackle stress. Time off to deal with care responsibilities is also a common demand, particularly from workers with caring responsibilities for older people. There are
The ver.di services union organised further strike action among health workers on 10 and 11 October as a further step in its campaign to deal with massive staffing shortages across the sector. The union is looking to negotiate agreements to tackle overwork, excessive overtime and workers being called out at short notice to fill staffing gaps. Ver.di wants to see all workers take their proper breaks and ultimately the aim is for national legislation to set minimum staffing levels.
Excessive workloads and unpredictable hours will feature prominently in the childcare sector negotiations that began on 8 November. With a slogan that "we're not jacks of all trades" the FNV trade union highlighted the problem that childcare workers were overburdened with cleaning, administrative and other tasks rather than child care itself. The union will be looking for restrictions on the extent to which employers can ask childcare workers to change their working time at short notice. The main pay claim will be for a 3.5% pay rise for the 80000 workers in the sector.
The ver.di services union has negotiated a new agreement with the management of the university hospitals of the towns of Gießen and Marburg in the Hesse region in central Germany. This is a major success arising from the union's national campaign of protests and strikes calling for action on staffing in the sector. The agreement, covering 7000 workers, provides for the possibility of taking on new workers as well as creating a pool of workers who are in a position to cover short and long-term gaps in staffing. It also commits the management and union to negotiate over measures to address
The FNME-CGT energy union mobilised workers for strike action across the sector on 29-30 November in protest at the employers' pay offer. Following a pay freeze, the combination of increased social security payments and inflation mean that workers have seen a 2.8% fall in purchasing power. The union says that companies are paying out high dividends while continuing to impose austerity on employees.