2017 September epsucob@NEWS 15
Despite improved economic growth, real wage increases across Europe are averaging only 0.4% this year compared to 1.5% last year, according to the latest report from the trade union linked WSI research organisation. In several countries - Austria, Greece, Portugal and France - there is virtually no change in real wages while six countries - Cyprus, Spain, Italy, Finland, Belgium and the UK - are looking at a fall in real wages. The WSI points out that calls for an increase in pay to boost economic demand are even coming from the European Commission and European Central Bank. These are
The SSP/vpod public services union is campaigning with political and other organisations to defend the right to strike in the care sector. In proposed revisions to the law on the care sector, the government of the Fribourg region in western Switzerland plans to ban strike action. The union says this will deprive over 6000 workers (4000 in the public sector and 2500 in the non-profit sector) of the right to strike.The campaigning organisations have been collecting signatures for a petition and demonstrations and other action are planned if the region doesn't revise its proposals.
The Kommunal municipal services trade union has declared a dispute with private companies that provide personal assistants who work with people with disabilities. The collective agreement with the private employers' organisation expired on 30 June and the union has been calling for a pay rise of SEK 535 (€56) a month, in line with other agreements in the sector. So far the employers have offered less than half this amount (SEK 249, €25). Kommunal says this is unacceptable for such an important group of workers and with negotiations stalled the union has said its formal notice of a dispute with
Proposals to reform the labour code were published owin 31 August with some initial negative reactions from the trade unions. A common response was that the raft of reforms was being put forward before there had been a proper evaluation of the changes that have been implemented in the last four years. Unions expressed concern about rebalancing of the relationship between sector and company-level bargaining and changes to compensation in cases of redundancy. In small companies (less than 50 employees) it will be possible for employers to negotiate with non-trade union representatives and in
Following a meeting with the French president over the summer, ETUC general secretary Luca Visentini is to meet French labour minister Muriel Pénicaud to discuss possible revisions to the Posted Workers Directive. This is an important piece of legislation that needs revision to ensure it is more effective in protecting the pay and conditions of workers who are on temporary assignments in other EU countries. The ETUC wants to see a guarantee of same salary for the same work in the same place and full entitlement of posted workers to all pay and conditions in collective agreements. Along with
Public sector trade unions met on 30th August to give a clear message to the government that there should be no further delay in paying the 10% salary increase for all public service workers. The unions accused the government of delay as it had already indicated that the promised increase would be applied from November rather than September. The unions said that they had been negotiating in good faith since April and would be joining a national demonstration on pay on 14 September to underline their message to the government.
Nurses at the Cancer Society, supported by their union, the NSF, are continuing their strike in protest at the Society's decision to switch employer organisations to take advantage of a poorer collective agreement. This is the longest strike in the union's history (see first epsucob@NEWS report in issue 10) and the NSF says it is gaining more and more support.
Trade unions representing over 430,000 municipal workers have come together to call for a significant pay rise for their members. The unions argue that public sector workers were negatively affected by the competitiveness pact agreed in 2016 with cuts to holiday entitlement. The sector has also seen massive cuts, including job losses, and that a pay freeze would be totally unacceptable. The unions argue that a pay rise is necessary and would mean a major boost for the economy.
Members of the FNV trade union at the Kwadrant care company have made some progress on their demands for action on jobs and overwork (see epsucob@NEWS no.15). In an initial meeting with management the workers have at least been given a commitment that travel time between clients will be fully paid working time. They will have to wait until 1 October to find out if the company will respond to their key demand not to cut jobs and to tackle the heavy workloads faced by many carers. The union has organised a petition among workers to highlight the problems they face.
An analysis by the European Trade Union Institute shows that wage convergence between East and West in Europe was steady up until 2008. However, since then the trend has either stalled or gone into reverse. Taking national average pay as a percentage of the average across the pre-2004 EU15, Croatia and Hungary show the largest increase in the pay gap since 2008. There were also increases in Slovenia, Czech Republic, Poland and Romania.Most progress was made in Bulgaria but from a very low level (11.8%) to 17.7%, still less than a fifth of average pay in the West.
The UGT confederation has launched a campaign for a minimum wage of €1000 a month. This target was discussed earlier this year with the CCOO confederation and the PSOE socialist party. The UGT has set the target for negotiations in collective agreements and also to achieve for the national minimum wage by 2020. The confederation argues that the figure is entirely justified with 3.5% economic growth and businesses now seeing profits and dividends at pre-crisis levels. At the same time average salaries are more than 5% below their 2009 level in real terms.
The Health Workers' Union of Ukraine has called a national demonstration on 12 September in protest at the government's failure to respond to a labour dispute raised by the union last year. The union is claiming a general rise for all healthworkers as well as resolution of an issue relating to highly skilled workers' pay. The demonstration will also highlight the need to increase health sector funding and will protest against government plans for restructuring and to cut hospital beds.
The GPA-djp has launched a campaign in protest against a decision by the non-profit pro mente rehabilitation company to apply a poorer collective agreement to all new employees from November this year. The union says that the move from the SWÖ (Austrian social economy) agreement to the Cure and Rehabilitation agreement will mean a massive deterioration of pay and employment conditions for the workers affected. The GPA-djp has set up an online petition to support the campaign.
After lengthy negotations, services union ver.di has endorsed a new agreement with the Uniper energy company that it will put to its members over the coming weeks. Key elements of the deal are commitments to no compulsory redundancies and to an early retirement scheme, seen by ver.di as important for the company's coal-powered operations that will face restructuring. This part of the agreement will run to 2022 while the long-term pay deal will run to 2024. The union prevented the company from cutting bonuses like Christmas pay but performance pay will be ended. In 2018 workers will get a lump
PCS, the largest civil service union, organised protests over pay on 31 August in three of the largest government departments. The three departments - Justice, Home Office, Revenue and Customs - have all indicated that they will maintain the 1% pay cap for another year. Research for PCS has shown that the effect of pay freezes and the pay gap has cost civil servants anything from £3500 (€3800) to £20000 (€21700) depending on grade. The union is calling for a pay rise of 5% or £1200 (€1300).