The vpod/ssp public services union has launched an initiative to support its local activists in mobilising to win better pay and conditions for health workers across the country. The strike at the CHUV University Hospital in Lausanne was the starting signal for the union’s “Road to Strike” organizing campaign. Vpod/ssp argues that the situation in health establishments has worsened due to the pandemic with many workers facing burnout and leaving the sector. The persistent staffing shortages undermine working conditions and further pressures come from private health companies’ search for profit
Safe and effective staffing levels
Quality public services depend on having safe and effective staffing levels. This is crucial in health and social services but is also important in a range other public services. It is also about ensuring the safety and wellbeing of staff who are otherwise overworked and under pressure to cover for staff shortages. Recruitment and retention and training and continuous professional development are key elements in working to achieve and maintain safe and effective staffing levels.
The ver.di services union has called a three-day warning strike from 23 August in the hospitals in Berlin run by the regional government’s Charité group, including its Vivantes subsidiaries. The union gave the employer 100 days to initiate collective bargaining to tackle overwork by hospital employees and trainees and to bring pay in line with the public service collective agreement in all Vivantes subsidiaries. The strike will go ahead if the deadline of 20 August is missed. Ver.di says that Charité has failed to make any serious offer and it has called on the employer to conclude agreements
With forest fires and flooding posing increasing demands on the fire service, the Fp Cgil public service union has called for employee numbers to be increased to 40000. The union argues that the current complement of 35000 is inadequate with many firefighters working double shifts, longer hours and more overtime. Fp Cgil says that excessive workloads leave workers no time for training and is worried that in the next negotiations the fire service will actually push for longer hours rather than address the staffing shortage. The union says that recruitment is crucial to reduce the average age
A new report from the Eurofound research agency analyses the extent of labour shortages across Europe and some of the measures being taken to address them. One of the main sectors of interest is health and social care and the report highlights the risks posed by such shortages to the viability of high-quality care provision. These were seen as particularly acute in Germany and in the Nordic countries, where shortages of skilled staff have led to long waiting times for patients. They also mean high workloads for professionals, ultimately contributing to higher turnover rates and reducing the
The FNV trade union’s campaign for urgent action on workloads in childcare has been stepped up with some regional mobilisations cancelled in order to concentrate on a national strike on 8 July. The union is angry that calls for increased staffing and reduced numbers of children per worker have fallen on deaf ears and the employers have offered nothing to address the problem.
Services union ver.di coordinated demonstrations across the country on 16 June to coincide with a meeting of health ministers. In the lead up to the general election in September, the union has been determined to show members’ anger over the failure to deliver improved working conditions for health and social care employees. A survey of over 12000 workers commissioned by ver.di revealed that 78% could not imagine staying in their profession until retirement under current conditions. Almost three quarters of respondents reported excessive workloads and understaffing. The union is concerned
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.
The four trade unions representing health and social care workers in the public and private sectors – younion, GÖD, vida and GPA-djp – have written an open letter to national and regional governments calling for urgent action on training. The unions say that an additional 75000 trained workers will be need in the sectors by 2030 and that measures need to be taken to increase the number of trainees to help meet the demand. Unlike other professions, health and care trainees are not paid when they are working on the job during their training. The unions argue that this is a major disincentive to
The younion and GÖD public sector unions, representing around 120000 workers in health and social care have called on the Austrian Chancellor to stand by his commitment to improve pay for those working in intensive care during the pandemic. The two unions underline that their demand covers all health and care workers, not just intensive care staff, as they are all part of an essential team and need to work together to deliver care and who have endured significant physical and mental challenges in maintaining services. Younion and GÖD are calling for a tax-free €1000 bonus for all health and
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
Following their strike action on 9 December last year, the four unions that organise in public administration – Fp-Cgil, Cisl-Fp, Uil-Fpl and Uil-Pa – are continuing to mobilise to secure a new collective agreement and for investment in the modernisation of the sector. The unions are calling for action on staffing not just to increase recruitment overall but also to reduce the extent of precarious contracts and to improve and increase the provision of training. Furthermore, they want measures in place to guarantee workers’ safety in view of the persistence of the pandemic.
The OSYE prison services union took six days of strike action at the end of February and beginning of March over key demands on safety and staffing. The union is particularly concerned about staff on long working hours and the massive backlog of rest days and holidays that are owed to workers who have done extra shifts to compensate for understaffing. EPSU sent a message of solidarity.
A new study of the impact of the pandemic in social care in eight countries reveals the problems faced by social care workers and the extent to which trade union action has helped to address issues around personal protective equipment (PPE), sick pay, working time and understaffing. There has been a shortage of PPE in all countries, but it was only in Sweden that a trade union had to take legal action for its members' right to use personal protective equipment. Increased overtime was a challenge in all countries but with split shifts being a particular problem in Sweden. The pandemic exposed
Workers in the SEPE public employment services are set to take two days of strike action in March to demand urgent action to address understaffing and overwork. The workers are represented by the FAC-USO public service union which has written to the Minister of Labour warning of the exhaustion faced by staff who have faced the massive increase in work over the past year in dealing with additional benefit payments and processes related to ERTE company restructuring schemes. So far, the ministry has acknowledged the problem of staffing but has not proposed a concrete solution. The union