2017 August epsucob@NEWS 14
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.
The STAL trade union reports a high level of support for strike action at the RESIESTRELA waste company part of the EGF multinational. The strike is over pay, a pay structure and the right to collective bargaining. The union says that workers at RESIESTRELA are the lowest paid in the EGF group with no developed pay or career structure. STAL has been raising these issues with EGF for many years but the company has refused to negotiate.
A new report from the health federation of the CCOO confederation covering the period 2012-2016 confirms the union's concerns over a widening gender pay and employment gap in the health sector. The report finds that women tend to have more precarious contracts with many on temporary contracts while they make up the vast majority of part-time workers and both of these contribute to the persistent gender pay gap. The union wants to see equality plans produced in any health institutions that don't yet have them and existing plans updated. Along with the CCOO, the UGT trade union has called on the
The IMPACT and SIPTU trade unions are working hard to push childcare up the political agenda. IMPACT has just submitted a call for a major increase in childcare funding with an extra €125 million this year and €625 million over the next five years. The union wants to see the introduction of an agreed salary scale as an important contribution to the professionalisation of the sector. SIPTU is putting across similar demands in its Big Start campaign.
After the recent success of public service union UNISON in getting the courts to end the government's policy to charge workers for the right to take employment tribunal cases, UNISON and the PCS civil service union have celebrated two further court victories. UNISON's second success came in another landmark case that will effectively require employers to consult over workplace restructuring such as redundancies. The PCS victory was in a judicial review of government cuts to the civil service pension scheme which the government now has to withdraw.
The trade union-linked WSI research organisation says that the latest figures indicate 37.7 hours as the average for the collectively agreed working week, with a higher average in the East (38.7) compared to the West (37.6). Across industries the working week varies from 34 to 40 hours with around a fifth of all workers covered by a collective agreement on a 35-hour week. The WSI notes that after a wave of agreements on shorter working hours in the 1980s and 1990s, there has been very little change. In the early 2000s a small number of agreements, including the public sector, experienced an
Eight years on since the renewal of the last collective agreement, the Ministry of Public Administration has confirmed the timetable for negotiations over firefighters' pay and conditions. The FP CGIL union is looking for a pay increase to recognise the professional responsibilities of firefighters with a minimum €80 a month as agreed in the initial public sector pay talks last year. The union will also be looking for improvements in pensions and ways of dealing with accidents and occupational diseases.
The Danish nurses' union (DSR) reports that hospitals are being given red or yellow smileys by the Labour Inspectorate to indicate that they are failing to tackle serious problems to do with the mental and physical working environment. The hospitals categorised with red smileys are those with the most serious problems arising from years of cuts that have left overworked staff struggling to maintain services for patients. The union has called on the regional authorities to take urgent action.
The SGB trade union confederation and the vpod public services union have called for a general wage increase of between 1.5% and 2.0%. But the vpod also highlights the need to address the fall in real pay in the public services as well as the importance of ensuring higher pay for jobs dominated by women. Meanwhile the federal court has thrown out a challenge to a proposed minimum wage in the Neuenberg Canton, opening the way to implementation of an hourly minimum of CHFr 20 (€17.50).
Workers at the Charité hospital in Berlin, members of the ver.di services union, organised a day of action on 8 August in protest at the stalled health and safety negotiations on the question of staffing and overwork. The workers put on rose-tinted glasses in response to the claims by the hospital management that things were improving at the hospital. Ver.di wants the hospital to agree binding rules on how it deals with understaffed shifts but so far the management has failed to move towards an agreement.
Public service workers across the UK have been involved in number of disputes over pay, jobs and safety. Waste workers in Birmingham and Doncaster are taking or planning action over pay and safety while cleaners at four hospitals in East London are continuting their campaign for a higher pay increase against outsourcing company Serco. Meanwhile in Sheffield members of the PCS civil service union are taking strike action in protest at the closure of a local Job Centre, part of a campaign against government proposals for closures across the country. Finally, janitors in schools across Glasgow
The government is going ahead with proposals for new working time legislation despite widespread criticism from the trade unions and even doubts expressed by employer organisations. The government wants to allow more flexibility in working time, including longer night and shift work and more local agreements on working time. The unions are worried that this is all about more worker flexibility and are concerned about the lack of provisions to ensure workers are protected. The unions also point out that this is a missed opportunity to tackle the spread of precarious work.
Younion, representing municipal workers in Austria has launched a petition calling for support for childcare workers in the Lower Austria region. The union highlights the significant increase in responsibilities and workloads for these workers and the key demands being put forward are: improvements in the quality and quantity of education; more opportunities for training and further education; creation of a clear career path; and pay in line with the demands of the job. EPSU has also collected together news of other recent initiatives by childcare unions.
In two different initiatives care workers at the Kwadrant Group in Friesland and HWW Care in the Hague have taken action to get their employers to address problems around high workloads, sickness absence and quality of care. The Kwadrant workers have organised a tour of the company's workplaces to highlight the issues in advance of a meeting with management on 24 August. Meanwhile, some workers at HWW have taken strike action in protest at the company's plans to cuts jobs and take on temporary and self-employed workers. HWW workers, some with 20 or 30 years of experience are angry that the
The NSF nurses' trade union organised a rally outside parliament on 10 August and were joined by representatives of other unions, including Fagforbundet, Unio and the LO trade union confederation. The unions expressed support for the NSF's long-running strike against the Cancer Society. The unions say the strike is important action in protest against the Society's decision to move from one employers' organisation to another to take advantage of a different collective agreement, with poorer terms and conditions for workers.