The vpod/ssp public services union has launched an organising and collective bargaining initiative to boost the level of activism in the union across the country. The aim is to talk to members and workers at local level to find out the main issues of concern and discuss what can be done in response. Pay and staffing levels have unsurprisingly emerged among the hottest issues as the bus has made its way through health and social care workplaces in Basel, Bern and the regions of Solothurn and St.Gallen. However, workers have also raised concerns about fair working hours, having proper breaks
Pensions/retirement, Recruitment & organising
Strong public service unions are vital if we are to stand up for our values and our vision in our workplaces, sectors and communities. They are crucial in dealing with national, European and global institutions and in representing public service workers in national trade union centres and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). EPSU affiliates are more effective in negotiating and campaigning where they can count on an active membership, high union density or broad support from workers.
EPSU has been taking a range of initiatives to support affiliates, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe, to build union power by developing recruitment and organising strategies and campaigns. This briefing, prepared for the 2019 Congress, covers recent work and current priorities. Our Organising and Campaigns staff, Agnieszka Ghinararu, Miloš Vlaisavljević and Artem Tidva, are working with affiliates to help them with advice, support and training and keeping them informed about new ideas on recruitment and organising methods.
The GMB energy and general union declared an end to the long and bitter dispute with British Gas over its aggressive policy of firing and rehiring workers. GMB members voted three to one to accept a new deal. Around 7,000 British Gas engineers staged 44 days of strike action after the company threatened to sack them if they didn’t sign up to detrimental changes to their terms and conditions. The new deal offers improvements to overtime rates and unsocial hours payments, places limits on the amount of unsocial working undertaken, reverses the decision to close the defined benefit pension scheme
Public sector unions have negotiated a wage settlement with the Virke employers’ organisation that includes private and non-profit companies delivering public services. The deal is in line with the settlement in the government sector, with a 2.7% pay increase but with a flat rate payment of NOK 1,500 (EUR 145) at all salary levels, backdated to 1 May. In addition, there is NOK 4,000 (EUR 390) for the lower paid and an equal pay supplement starting at NOK 3,800 (EUR 370) and falling by NOK 200 (EUR 20) for each move up the salary scale. A further 1.8% is set aside for local negotiations, with
After a final, lengthy round of bargaining, the cross-sector negotiations covering the private sector ended in the early hours of 8 June. The three trade union confederations are in the process of consulting with their members on the outcome. The main development is the proposed increase in the minimum wage – the first since 2008 – which will see an increase in the monthly amount from EUR 1625.72 to EUR 1702 in April 2022. There will be further increases in 2024 and 2026 which along with changes to taxation will mean net increases of EUR 100 and EUR 150. The deal also includes some
Respect for trade union rights, collective bargaining and social dialogue part of our democratic values – say North East European constituency unions
The EPSU affiliates of North East Europe expressed their concerns about developments in the region in the online meeting of the North East European constituency on 3 March. They received information about the situation in Armenia, Belarus, Georgia and Ukraine.
The trade union movement has applied for a judicial review of the change in law that effectively allows employers to summarily dismiss workers without reason once they reach pension age. They also want the legislation suspended. Unions reacted angrily to the new law which they argue was inappropriately included in a package of temporary measures to deal with the pandemic. The measure was implemented without any form of social dialogue and the unions have raised this specific concern with the European Commission.
Trade unions aim to challenge a change to dismissal and retirement rights that took effect on 1 January. This was a last-minute change introduced by the government as part of a new package of measures in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The legislation means that employers can now dismiss without justification any worker who reaches state pension age. The unions have attacked the change on several grounds. It was introduced without any due process of social dialogue; it is a permanent change rather than part of a temporary response to the pandemic; it flies in the face of many efforts in
Members of public services union Fagforbundet are involved in a strike over pay against church employers. Following the failure of mediation, the union had to resort to strike action to prevent employers from reducing starting pay rates for new priests. There is also concern that priests who switch jobs might lose out. The union argues that such a measure would only worsen the current recruitment crisis. Meanwhile, a strike of childcare workers organised by Fagforbundet and Delta was called off at the last minute when the Norlandia group agreed to introduce a pension scheme in line with the
Negotiations for a new collective agreement covering the state sector will begin in mid-January and the FNV trade union has surveyed members to identify the main priorities. Over 80% of respondents said that it was important for the union to maintain its proposed claim for a 5% pay increase. The feeling was that this was necessary to cover cost of living increases and recruit and retain staff. Members were also keen on an allowance for working from home or support to cover any costs related to home working. Early retirement is also on the agenda while the FNV will be looking for measures to