A major conflict across the public sector was avoided as trade unions negotiated new agreements covering state, local and regional government workers. Some elements of the agreements are the same with an overall package worth 8.1% over three years. This figure includes a basic increase for all workers but also elements directly specifically at low paid workers and jobs predominantly done by women. An important element is the change in the rules linking pay developments to those in the public sector with the guarantee now that pay will move fully in parallel rather than only guaranteeing a part of the private sector increase.
Unions secure new agreements across public sector
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Public service trade unions have secured talks with the government to deal with the issue of low pay for new entrants. In 2011, as part of austerity measures, the government introduced two new lower pay grades for new recruits. This was not agreed by trade unions at the time and they have continued to demand action by the government. It is estimated that 60000 workers have been taken on since 2011 and have started on these lower rates of pay.
Campaigning by the youth section of the FNV trade union has paid off with implementation of a change in the national minimum wage. The adult rate will now be applied from 21 rather than 22. This means 21-year-olds will benefit from the new EUR 9,44 rate, a 45% increase on the previous rate, which was only EUR 6,49. While being delighted with the result the union's youth section is determined to keep up the fight to get right of the other age-related rates so that the full adult rate applies from 18.
A new report from the WSI trade-union linked research organisation provides an overview of recent developments in statutory minimum wages with 19 of the 22 in the EU seeing an increase in 2017 or beginning of 2018 - the exceptions being in Greece, Germany and Luxembourg.The 4.4% average nominal increase is the second largest since 2009. The report found that most of the larger increases were in Central and Eastern Europe. In Western Europe the minmum wage rate was mainly above EUR 9.40 an hour with the exceptions of the UK and Germany.