Low pay/minimum wages
May. 28, 2019 The FOA public services union has warned the Vikapleje private eldercare company that it will face strike action from 15 June unless it ensures that its employees are paid in line with the municipal agreement. The company provides services for the Halsnæs municipality north west of Copenhagen and FOA has been trying for some time to negotiate an agreement with the company along the lines of those it has with many other private companies. The union estimates that Vikaplege is costing workers as much as DKK 90000 (EUR 12000) a year in lower pay and pension benefits.
May. 23, 2019 Two groups of outsourced workers providing services to central government took strike action in the week beginning 21 May. Cleaning, catering and security staff at the Department for Business, employed by the Aramark and ISS companies, took four days of action over their demand for a living wage of GBP 10.55 (EUR 12) an hour. The same week, employees of the outsourcing company Interserve at the foreign ministry took two days of strike action. The workers, involved in facilities management, printing, portering and cleaning, are fighting for trade union recognition and defence of their rights to holiday, sickness and redundancy pay.
Apr. 30, 2019 An analysis by the GMB trade union reveals that care workers in the private sector are three times more likely to be on a zero hours contract than those in the public sector. It also finds that employees of private care companies are paid 17% less on average than their public sector counterparts and four in ten leave their job every year. Over 50% per cent of private carers have no relevant social care qualifications, compared with less than 20% in the public sector. The union highlights the underlying problem of underfunding of the sector, an issue which it says is becoming more acute as evidenced by the possible collapse of one of the country's biggest care providers, Four Seasons, which employs 20000 workers.
Mar. 28, 2019 Non-teaching staff at schools across the country took strike action on 21-22 March with support increasing on the second day and many schools closing. The unions are calling for action on low pay noting that with the recent increase in the minimum wage new workers are now often earning as much as staff with 20 years' service. The unions want to see a proper career structure put in place and measures to reduce precarious employment in order to recognise the contribution that these workers make to the education system.
Mar. 15, 2019 The health conference of the vpod public service union has called for action to tackle the stress, long working hours, involuntary part-time work and low pay in the sector which is part of the persistent discrimination faced by women workers. The union wants to see a revaluation of pay of health and care jobs to recognise the arduousness and increased responsibilities of many occupations. Vpod is also calling for major improvements to work-life balance, reductions in working time, better shift planning, possibilities for retirement from 60 and provision of necessary training. The union says that urgent action is needed to address staff shortages.
Mar. 15, 2019 The European Trade Union Institute suggests that prospects for a European minimum wage could move up the political agenda when Germany takes over the EU Presidency next year. The German government has indicated its support for a debate on the issue which is supported by the DGB, the national confederation. A new report by the trade union-backed WSI research institute confirms that there have been significant increases in several minimum wage rates across Europe but that the majority of countries still have rates that are well below the 60% median wage target,
Feb. 28, 2019 The Eurofound research agency has published a short analysis of recent minimum wage increases ahead of its more detailed annual report. The largest increases were recorded in Spain (+22% to €1,050), Greece (+11% to €758, 14 payments of EUR 650) and Bulgaria (+10% to €261). However, in Greece, it represents only the first increase since 2012 when the rate was slashed as part of austerity measures. Lithuanian workers saw a rise of 7.5% but with changes to taxation the take home pay of those on the minimum wage has risen by 39% (to €555).
Feb. 28, 2019 A new analysis from the research organisation, the Living Wage Foundation, shows that over one million public service workers are paid less than the living wage - GBP 9.00 (EUR 10.50) an hour outside London and GBP 10.55 (EUR 12.30) in London. These figures are calculated by independent researchers and are higher than the official minimum wage. Public service union UNISON says that recent pay deals in health and local government have lifted minimum wage rates in collective agreements above the living wage but many workers employed by private contractors in care, catering and cleaning and other services are on lower rates. UNISON members at Liverpool's Women's Hospital took strike action on 25 February to secure higher pay while other contractors in the health service have committed to increase rates. Members of PCS working for contractors at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have also been on strike for higher pay.
Feb. 27, 2019 The FOA public services union has strongly criticised plans by Copenhagen City Council to cut DKK 47 million (EUR 6.3 million) from the cleaning budget in its children and youth administration services. The union says that 450 workers will be affected either with reduced hours (some going from 37 to 21 hours a week) and others facing redundancy. FOA argues that this is effectively increasing the working poor, with many workers facing the prospect of doing two, three or more jobs to make ends meet. The union also argues it will impact on cleaning quality and health and safety.
Feb. 15, 2019 The general strike on 13 February called by the three trade union confederations was strongly supported across the country. One of the main aims of the strike was to put pressure on the employers to come up with a better pay offer in the national cross-sector negotiations. However, the unions had a broader list of demands that also covered young workers, equality, pensions, public services, poverty and tax justice.
Feb. 14, 2019 National strike action across the public sector took place on 14-15 February as unions pushed the government to end its austerity measures that have taken a toll on public service workers. Unions in the FESAP federation took action over the two days while the Frente Comum group of unions joined on 15th. The unions have some common demands, particularly the urgent need to end the pay freeze and provide a pay increase for all public service workers. Other demands covered career progression, training and action to tackle precarious employment. EPSU sent solidarity messages.
Feb. 14, 2019 Workers at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, employed by the Aramark and Engie outsourcers, went on strike on 14 February in protest at low pay. Many of the cleaners, caterers, security and portering staff are on the official minimum wage (GBP 7.83 (EUR 8.90) for those aged 25 and over) but are demanding the unofficial living wage (GBP 10.55 an hour, EUR 12.00). Meanwhile, workers at the Historic Royal Palaces, including the Tower of London, took strike action on 6 February in protest at planned cuts to their pension scheme. The workers, members of the PCS and GMB trade unions, are planning further action on 16 and 21 February.
Jan. 30, 2019 The pay freeze and job cuts in the public sector have prompted action by some unions in February with the CGT taking strike action on the 5th and FO organising a week of action 3-10 February with a national demonstration on the 7th. Their principal demands focus on unfreezing pay, stopping the job cuts but there are also broader demands about the minimum wage and a fairer tax system. Fairness is also one of the factors behind the unions' joint call for strike action across the energy, water and waste company Veolia which employs 50000 workers in France. The CFDT, CFC, CFT and FO are calling for a general pay increase and higher minimum wages at the group's subsidiaries across the country and criticise the company for failing to protect employees' purchasing power and distributing company shares in a way that disproportionately benefits senior management.