2017 May epsucob@NEWS 08
(May 2017) Trade union reps from subsidiaries of the social care multinational Orpea came together in Brussels on 4-5 May to discuss common problems and how to improve coordination and potentially initiate moves to setting up a European works council. Participants debated the pressure of increased workloads and the role of profit-seeking multinationals in providing social care.
(May 2017) Trade unions representing prison workers across Europe met in Brussels on 10 May to discuss a range of issues relating to continuing austerity, collective bargaining and trade union rights. Key issues that emerged during the meeting included the increase in violence against prison staff, problems of understaffing and developing issues around digitalisation and, in some countries, radicalisation of inmates. The meeting was part of a two-year project run by EPSU with the next meeting in December focusing on childcare workers.
(May 2017) The long-running conflict at the European Patent Office (EPO) over abuses of worker and trade union rights is now heading to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). SUEPO, the trade union at the EPO has filed a complaint against the Netherlands for failing to protect workers. The courts there ruled that Dutch law has no jurisdiction leaving the workers in a legal limbo. The workers have been supported by the FNV trade union and the matter has been taken up in the Dutch parliament.
(May 2017) The STAL local government union has called on the government to allow local authorities to take immediate action to tackle precarious employment in the sector. The union says that an ordinance aimed at the state sector doesn't go far enough and that local authorities should be allowed to take the initiative now to reduce various forms of temporary work and provide permanent contracts to workers who are doing permanent tasks but have been appointed on short-term contracts.
(May 2017) A new report from the ETUI research institute explodes the myth that deregulation of employment protection legislation creates either economic growth or an increase in jobs. The report examines evidence from 10 countries (Spain, Italy, Estonia, Slovakia, Poland, Germany, France, Denmark, and the UK) and shows that the main impact in these measures has been the spread of precarious employment conditions.
(May 2017) The ATSR air traffic controllers' union was planning a two-hour warning strike on 12 May to put pressure on the employers (Romatsa) to conclude a new collective agreement. The union has been in discussions covering pay, passenger safety, stress at work and rights of workers, highlighting the increase in workload and company income but pressure to cut costs. The Ministry of Transport has refused to talk to the union. EPSU has sent a message of solidarity and also writtent to the Ministry and the Prime Minister.
(May 2017) The new labour code is set to be implemented in July although trade unions want it deferred to January 2018 with further amendments in line with the proposals of the President. The code has been discussed in the Tripartite Council but it was unable to find consensus on many issues. President Dalia Grybauskaite has been a consistent critic of the amended code and argues that if adopted in its current form then it would have to be amended immediately to provide better protection for workers' and trade union rights.
(May 2017) The vpod public services union has highlighted the problem of gender pay inequality across occupations, noting that lower pay in occupations dominated by women, like care, cannot be justified on a gender-neutral basis and that they are the result of specific historical developments. The union cites new research from Essen University in Germany and argues that legislation that currently requires action by employers with over 50 employees should be amended to provide for an evaluation of occupational groups.
(May 2017) Public sector trade unions want to see a swift move to negotiations following publication of the advisory report of the Public Services Pay Commission. The report focuses on average pay developments in the public and private sector and notes the extent to which public sector pay is on average lower than before the crisis. Public sector unions want to make significant progress towards recovering the lost purchasing power of many of their members since 2008.
(May 2017) The four unions that organise care workers in the public (GÖD and younion) and private (vida and GPA-djp) sectors have come together to organise a national demonstration on 12 May. The key demands of the protest are for better funding for care and action to deal with the excessive workloads, stress and long working hours of many care workers. The unions want to see action to tackle staff shortages and national legislation on staffing levels.
(May 2017) Services union ver.di reports on two significant bargaining developments in the Sana healthcare company and in the non-profit care sector in the Saxony-Anhalt region. Sana's 10000 workers will get a 2.2% pay rise backdated to 1 January this year and a further 2.2% from 1 February 2018 along with several other improvements to pay and conditions, including two extra days off for ver.di members only. The new pay agreement in Saxony-Anhalt covers 4000 care workers employed by the regional welfare federation and is backdated to 2016 while providing pay increases until 2018. Ver.di sees
(May 2017) Around 200 workers and the 1100 people they provide care for are the latest victims of private care company bankruptices. The collapse of Hjemmehjælpen Aarhus, the largest private care company in Aarhus, Denmark's second city, is the third private care company bankruptcy in May and the 41st since 2013 when a new tendering system was introduced. The FOA public service union is calling for a change to the system with requirements to monitor professional and management skills, company finances and to protect working conditions.
(May 2017) The OSZSP health and social services union has launched a campaign to improve pay in the social services sector under the slogan "end cheap labour". The union has already had a meeting with the government where it highlighted staff shortages, excessive workloads and very low pay with some on as little as CZK 12000 a month (EUR 450). The union stresses that staff shortages are set to become more urgent as workers in the sector retire and there is increased demand from an older population.
(May 2017) A new report from the ETUI research institute reveals that workers in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic have seen an increasing pay gap with Germany after many years when there had been pay convergence. Reacting to the report the ETUC argues that a weakening of collective bargaining in these companies is part of the problem and calls on national governments and European Union institutions to promote collective bargaining.
(May 2017) The FP-CGIL and CISL FP public service federations have attacked the Anaste private residential care employers' organisation for signing an agreements with unrepresentative unions and cutting out the main federations affiliated to the CGIL, CISL and UIL confederations. Around 15000 workers are covered by the agreement which the CGIL, CISL and UIL federations had been negotiating. The three unions took strike action on 27 April to try to improve pay and working conditions and are highly critical of the agreement now signed with the other unions.