2017 August epsucob@NEWS 13
The FSC-CCOO federation has described as incomprehensible the decision of the government to challenge the re-introduction of the 35-hour week for public sector workers in Andalucia. The union says that the regional government is only restoring workers' rights removed under austerity measures and that the move back to a 35-hour week is important in terms of creating employment.
The European Commission has published its annual review of Employment and Social Developments which has a focus on intergenerational issues. The review notes the slow decline in unemployment but underlines that there remain major problems in some countries around youth unemployment while young workers in employment are more likely to face precarious employment conditions. At the other end of the age spectrum the Commission continues to focus on trends to higher effective retirement ages and the need, as it sees it, to increase retirement ages.
Nine organisations representing healthworkers, including the OZZPiP nurses' and midwives' union, have come together in a campaign calling for pay increases across the sector. The unions have coordinated a petition that has gathered over 230000 signatures and on 17 July organised a demonstration outside parliament. The unions are arguing for a new pay system with minimum rates for different professions.
The Cyprus Turkish Civil Cervants Trade Union (KTAMS) held a one–hour token strike on 17 July in protest at unfair employment practices at the Central Bank of North Cyprus. The union argued that the Bank had taken on employees and assigned some as managers without following the proper procedures, particularly in regard to equal opportunities.
In a joint statement the CGT, FO and Solidaires trade unions have criticised the government's decision to freeze public sector pay again in 2018 and to introduce a waiting day before civil servants can claim sick pay. The unions are also concerned about career development in the public services and are angry that civil servants are the target of cuts in the government's attempts to reduce public spending. The CFDT trade union has raised similar objections.
The European Commission has launched a consultation of the social partners over future revisions to the directive on carcinogens and mutagens. This consultation covers substances that should be covered by the directive and specific exposure limits as well as questions as to which substances might need to be added. The social partners have until the end of September to respond and to indicate if they are willing to negotiate on the directive.
Striking cleaners, members of the Unite trade union, working at four London hospitals have taken their protests to the heart of the City of London. They are making their voices heard as their employer, the outsourcing company Serco, announces its latest profit figures. In one of the biggest ever strike actions by cleaners, the workers are highlighting excessive workloads and levels of pay so low that many have to take second jobs to make ends meet.
The latest annual collective bargaining survey from the Eurofound industrial relations agency found that Slovakia and the Czech Republic recorded the highest collectively negotiated real and nominal pay rises in 2016. The article also examines public sector developments in several countries, including Croatia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Lithuania and Luxembourg.
Public services union IMPACT and general union SIPTU have welcomed a new parliamentary report that reveals the problems of low pay and poor working conditions in the early years sector. The unions are calling for increased investment and funding for the sector and action to tackle low pay with the need to set pay rates that recognise the responsibilities and qualifications of childcare workers, 98% of whom are women.
The FOA public services union has called on the government to recognise the need for multi-billion kronor funding to make a real difference to pay in jobs dominated by women. The union points out that the last time that an attempt was made to tackle the problem was in the 2007 three-year agreement but in the end the extra funding to close the pay gap was spread too thinly across the public sector. The FOA wants to see extra funding earmarked for low paid jobs dominated by women and also changes to equality legislation.
The ETUC has published a newsletter providing an overview of its Pay Rise campaign so far - covering specific initiatives on women and young workers as well as the focus on public sector workers on Public Services Day - 23rd June. The next main event in the campaign will be a conference in Bratislava on 22 September which will focus on corporate greed and the pay gap between workers in Eastern and Western Europe.
The JHL public services union and the SAK confederation have raised concerns about the government's approach to working time and possible changes to working time legislation. A government working group has come up with proposals that would allow for more local flexibility on working time while failing to put forward any concrete plans to regulate zero-hours contracts which currently affect 80000 workers in Finland. The unions argue that the proposals are more about flexibiity for employers than workers and that all workers should have a guaranteed minimum number of hours in their contracts.
Around 30000 workers employed by the health institutions federation in Vienna will see their pay and conditions protected following an agreement that removes the threat of privatisation. The deal will also mean higher starting salaries for new workers and a minimum wage of EUR 1670 a month. The younion representing the health workers regards this as a positive example of social partnership and a valuable contribution to social justice.
Reacting to a recent report on increased violence in prisons, the FNV trade union has called for increased investment in prison staff to be made a political priority. Official figures show that violent incidents against staff rose to an average of four and a half a day in 2015 and then five a day in 2016. This, along with evidence of widespread drug abuse in prisons, has been taken up by the FNV as well as as the central works council of the justice ministry.
Services union ver.di is targetting a selection of public and private hospitals in seven regions, calling on them to negotiate agreements to reduce excessive workloads. The union argues that many healthworkers are under pressure to work long hours to fill the gap left by a shortage of 162000 workers across the sector. This is having a detrimental impact on workers' health and ver.di wants employers to recognise this and their responsibility to provide good working conditions.