- Europe: EPSU-ETUI factsheets on the right to strike
- Portugal: Public sector unions take strike action
- Germany: Union calls warning strikes in lead up to next regional negotiations
- Austria: Warning strikes in private health and social care
- Netherlands: Unions disappointed by latest pay offer in provincial government
- UK: Palace workers and outsourced staff strike over pay and pensions
- Norway: Court case against care company continues
- Italy: Confederations in joint protest over government policies
- Hungary: Anti-"slave" law campaign continues
- Europe:Directive provides new rights but fails to deliver on others
- France: Unions step up campaign on pay
- Belgium: General strike is strongly supported
- Europe:ETUC calls for swift adoption of agreement on labour authority
- Europe:Collective bargaining news from across Europe
2019 February epsucob@NEWS 04
The January issue of the European Trade Union Institute's Collective Bargaining newsletter includes over 70 articles covering more than 30 countries. This edition has several reports on developments in the public services, including action in prison services in Bulgaria, pay in the public sector in Slovenia and several stories on health and social care workers in Ireland, Italy, Malta and Poland.
With hundreds of thousands of public service workers taking strike action across Europe in recent weeks - in Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, the UK, Austria and Germany - it is timely that EPSU is publishing factsheets on the right to strike in 35 countries. The factsheets have been produced for EPSU by the European Trade Union Institute. Some groups of public service workers often face bans or restrictions on their right to strike and these factsheets set out the main rules. They also cover international case law and list international standards, such as International Labour Organisation
The general strike on 13 February called by the three trade union confederations was strongly supported across the country. One of the main aims of the strike was to put pressure on the employers to come up with a better pay offer in the national cross-sector negotiations. However, the unions had a broader list of demands that also covered young workers, equality, pensions, public services, poverty and tax justice.
Public service unions are continuing their campaign for a pay rise for public service workers. Eight unions have come together and are urging people to sign their petition. They have also written a joint letter to the prime minister, Édouard Philippe, calling not just for an end to the public sector pay freeze but also for a stop on job cuts and recognition of the important role public service workers play in delivering public services. Some of the unions have also been mobilising in February with days of action and strikes.
National strike action across the public sector took place on 14-15 February as unions pushed the government to end its austerity measures that have taken a toll on public service workers. Unions in the FESAP federation took action over the two days while the Frente Comum group of unions joined on 15th. The unions have some common demands, particularly the urgent need to end the pay freeze and provide a pay increase for all public service workers. Other demands covered career progression, training and action to tackle precarious employment. EPSU sent solidarity messages.
The ETUC has welcomed elements of the latest version of the draft Directive on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions but is disappointed that some hoped-for rights, such as a ban on zero-hours contracts, have not materialised. It notes the new rights in relation to training, probation, payment for cancelled shifts and working for more than one employer. The ETUC was also calling for the right for precarious workers to transfer to more secure forms of employment and is disappointed that workers on fewer than 12 hours a month will be excluded. EPSU reacted similarly but also underlined
In the latest stage of the trade union campaign against the "slave" law that allows employers to signficantly increase overtime work, the MASZSZ confederation has asked the European Commission to intervene. The confederation believes that the increase on the overtime limit to 400 hours a year and the possibility for compensation for additional hours to be spread over 36 months could be in contravention of the Working Time Directive and it wants the European Commission to investigate.
The three main confederations - CGIL, CISL and UIL - organised a joint demonstration on 9 February to protest over government policies. They set out a broad range of demands including the creation of quality jobs, increased public and private investment, fair and equitable tax policies, a revaluation of pensions, measures to improve the provision of welfare, health, education and other public services and renewal of collective agreements in the public sector. EPSU sent a message of support.
The Fagforbundet public service union is continuing to pursue legal action against the Aleris care company which it believes has major implications for labour rights in Norway. The company is being challenged over using self-employed workers that it calls "consultants" rather than directly employing care staff. The "consultants" have no employment rights and have been forced to work long hours of overtime, including up to 72 hours without a break, for fear of being denied work. They have no sickness or pension benefit or protection against dismissal. Aleris Care is now part of the Ambea group
Workers at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, employed by the Aramark and Engie outsourcers, went on strike on 14 February in protest at low pay. Many of the cleaners, caterers, security and portering staff are on the official minimum wage (GBP 7.83 (EUR 8.90) for those aged 25 and over) but are demanding the unofficial living wage (GBP 10.55 an hour, EUR 12.00). Meanwhile, workers at the Historic Royal Palaces, including the Tower of London, took strike action on 6 February in protest at planned cuts to their pension scheme. The workers, members of the PCS and GMB
Negotiations covering workers in provincial government have been suspended after unions reacted with disappointment to the employers' latest pay offer of 6% over 24 months. The unions say that after several years of moderate pay increases, workers deserve higher pay and a share of growth in the economy. The unions are aiming for a 7.25% increase over two years and argue that the employers should acknowledge the work that the unions have done in relation to a revised job structure and harmonisation of allowances.
The vida and GPA-djp private services unions are coordinating strike action in 150 workplaces across 75 private health and social care organisations in the lead up to the next round of bargaining on 18 February that covers around 100000 workers. The employers have so far increased their pay offer from 2.37% to 2.5% and then to 2.8%/3.0% but the unions argue this still undervalues health and social care workers. They are also angry that the employers won't discuss the unions' call for a guarantee of reduced weekly working time or more annual leave without a cut in pay, with targets of a 35-hour
Public services union ver.di is mobilising its members in regional government for a series of warning strike in the lead up to the third round of bargaining which begins on 28 February. The union says that there was no breakthrough in the second round of negotiations. The main demands are for a 6% pay increase for the 2.3 million employees with a minimum rise of EUR 200 over a 12-month period. The union also wants specific structural pay increases in care and IT, with an extra EUR 300 on the pay table covering care workers to help tackle recruitment problems. Ver.di is angry that a commitment