- France: unprecedented day of action in eldercare
- Ireland: social services workers prepare for action over pay
- Spain: home care staff continue campaign
- UK: home care workers take action over shifts
- Austria: health and social service unions demand better offer
- Sweden: childcare survey shows need for more permanent staff
- Italy: new collective agreement for firefighters
- Portugal: demonstration over low pay in local government
- Netherlands: ambulance workers re-launch campaign over jobs
- Germany: waste firm opts for cheaper agreement
- Denmark: employers offer funding to tackle staff shortages
- Norway: public sector pensions negotiations get underway
- Finland: union calls for more action to tackle gender pay gap
- Europe: report analyses equal pay audits in four countries
2018 February epsucob@NEWS 03
At an early stage of the negotiations in local government the KL employers' organisation has said it will allocate around 500 million krone (EUR 67 million) to tackle major staffing shortages in health and social care. In December, KL and the FOA public services union issued a joint report which revealed that 73% of municipalities faced shortages of skilled staff, particularly in the field of eldercare. FOA gave a positive reaction to the news but underlined that they and other public sector unions still had key demands for tackling low pay and the gender pay gap.
The FP CGIL trade union has signed a new collective agreement covering firefighters which has important provisions for a general pay rise, increased overtime pay and increased payments recognising the arduousness of the occupation. With these key pay-related elements agreed, the union says that negotiations will now move on to deal with a wide range of other employment conditions covering health and safety, provisions for firefighters who can no longer manage active service, training, insurance against occupational accidents and diseases as well as the overall organisation of the service.
The Eurofound research agency has published a new report that analyses how gender pay audits have been implemented in four countries - Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. It is based on company-level gender pay reports and reveals that there have been mixed results in terms of compliance, in the initial phase. It also highlights room for improvement in engaging employee representatives and in raising employees’ awareness.
Negotiations have begun over changes to the public sector pensions scheme. The Fagforbundet trade union is particularly concerned about addressing gender equality issues and for pensions to take account of the arduousness of many jobs in health and social care which are dominated by women. The demands of many of these jobs often mean that workers cannot stay at work until normal pension age and so there have to be suitable arrangements for early retirement. The union also wants to see improvements in the rules covering the combination of work and retirement.
A new report from the Kommunal local government union paints a positive picture of pre-school education but reveals increased pressure on staff, a failure to ensure appropriate staffing levels and an excessive use of fixed-term contracts. The report is based on a large survey of Kommunal members and interviews with 3352 childcare workers. The survey found that 39% of childcare workers found their work mentally exhausting, up by 15% since 2012. The union wants to see proper application of the official guidelines on staff/child ratios and an increase in the number of staff on permanent contracts
The STAL local government has organised a demonstration outside the local government ministry on 9 February in protest at the government's failure to increase pay rates for the lowest paid municipal workers. A combination of a freeze in pay progression and a freeze on pay scales since 2009 means that workers on the bottom two pay scales have seen their pay rates (EUR 450 and EUR 532.08) overtaken by the national minimum wage (EUR 580). Under government proposals those on the two lowest pay bands will be stuck on the minimum wage, while those who progress to the third pay level will only see
Waste workers in northern Germany, members of the ver.di trade union have criticised their employer, Remondis, for switching to a different sector collective agreement. From the beginning of February the company said it would apply the freight and logistics agreement rather than the private waste agreement. The company argues that this makes no difference but the union points out that it delivers no improvements. Ver.di says that drivers are on a starting wage of EUR 11.95 an hour (less in some areas) and that many don't progress from this level. Meanwhile, the Rethmann Group which owns
After a march in Vienna on 24 January and a day of action on 30 January, the vida and GPA-djp trade unions warn of further action to support their negotiations covering 100000 workers in the private health and social care sector. The employers increased their original pay offer from 2.1% to 2.25% but the unions say that this completely fails to recognise the new tasks and responsibilities faced by many in the sector. The unions are also calling for a cut in working time. The fifth round of bargaining is due on 12 February and the unions have already indicated widespread support among their
In a number of key cities, ambulance workers, members of the FNV trade union, re-launched their campaign over understaffing and overwork with a work-to-rule. The workers will strictly abide by all relevant rules and regulations related to working time, working conditions and patient hygiene to demonstrate to employers how they are normally forced to cut corners because of the enormous pressure they are under to attend emergencies. The union says that with current staffing levels it is impossible to achieve target response times. See also epsucob@NEWS 02, January 2018 and 21, November 2017.
The JHL public services union has called for more action to tackle the gender pay gap, with increased funding and a legislative initiative like the one agreed recently in Iceland. The union says that shops stewards should have broader rights to access payroll data that could help monitor trends in the pay gap. It also proposes measures in schools to address the continuing problem of specific occupations dominated by one gender, something that is getting worse in some occupations according to JHL. It also wants to see increased parental leave specifically for men.
Home care workers in the Basque region of northern Spain are in the third month of their campaign to secure better pay and employment conditions. Their latest partial work stoppage took place on 25 January and further action is planned for 12 and 27 February to put pressure on city councils and the regional council to act on the low pay and precarious employment conditions that are common to the contracts run by private companies across the region. EPSU sent a solidarity message.
Trade unions organising in the eldercare sector report an unprecedented level of mobilisation for their strike action and protests on 30 January. The action was coordinated across eight trade union organisations with the support also of the AD-PA association representing directors of eldercare institutions. The protests across the country were also joined by user groups and families. The unions have dismissed the government proposal for an extra EUR 50 million in funding saying that this is completely inadequate to address the urgent staffing needs and the claims for better pay and career
Social services workers employed by non-profit organisations had already voted for a one-day strike on 14 February but there are now plans to extend the action with a two-day strike in the week beginning 19 February. The strike has been called by the SIPTU trade union to put pressure on the government to agree extra funding for so-called Section 39 organisations. These organisations provide many social services on a par with public sector providers but Section 39 employees have so far been denied the pay restoration measures that have been agreed in the public sector. EPSU has sent a
Hundreds of home care staff, members of the Unison trade union, joined a strike and demonstration in Birmingham in central England on 20 January in protest at plans to slash jobs and impose a new three-shift pattern on workers. The workers had voted by a massive majority to take strike action with the first stoppage running from 11.30 to 14.00 and with a further stoppage taking place on 6 February. The workers say that the new shift pattern (7.00-10.00; 12.00-14.00; 16.00-22.00) will make it impossible for them to have proper rest breaks and put the quality of care at risk. Around 150 jobs are