2019 May epsucob@NEWS 10
IN THIS ISSUE
- France: Unions unite in public sector strike and action day
- Greece: Health workers take action over jobs, pay and funding
- Croatia: Unions win right to demand referendum on pensions
- Europe: Key ruling on working time
- Italy: Unions set out key demands to private health employers
- Netherlands: Unions mobilise for major pensions protest on 29 May
- Sweden: Union secures major pay improvements for part-time firefighters
- Austria: Care unions launch campaign over night work
- UK: Striking care workers get employer to negotiate
- Ireland: Union looks to take initiative on reversing working hours increase
- Germany: Doctors' union considers further action if no progress in negotiations
- Netherlands: Municipal unions consider action as employers miss deadline
- Spain: Union calls for pay rise to be paid and other rights to be restored
- Portugal: Unions maintain campaign over pay, pensions and other conditions
May. 10, 2019 Hundreds of thousands of public service workers joined demonstrations around the country on 9 May as part of national strike action and protests against government plans for public sector reform. An estimated 30000 took part in the main demonstration in Paris, bringing together nine trade union federations in the public sector and indicating the extent of trade union unity in opposition to job cuts, pay freezes and initiatives to undermine employment security and trade union rights. The unions are demanding a proper process of social dialogue over the government proposals which are due to be presented to parliament on 13 May.
May. 10, 2019 The FNV and other local government unions are considering strike action in order to put pressure on the VNG employers' organisation which failed to respond to the unions' 1 May deadline for a better collective bargaining offer. The unions are angry that the latest pay offer was, in fact, worse than a previous offer and that the VNG is still not proposing an increase that will ensure wages rise above the current 3% inflation level. The employers have also failed to budge on negotiating a health and wellness policy that would particularly benefit older workers.
May. 10, 2019 Reducing working time has emerged as a key issue for public services union Forsa. As part of another element of the austerity package agreed in 2013, lower and middle-earning civil servants saw their working time increase by 2.5 hours a week without any increase in pay. At the same time higher earners (those on over EUR 65000 a year) took a pay cut. However, that pay cut was restored by January 2018 and so Forsa is now arguing that it is only fair that lower and middle-earning civil servants, mostly women, should return to their pre-crisis working hours. Taking account of the hours increase, the hourly rate of pay for civil servants is still only 93% of the level of 10 years ago.
May. 10, 2019 The GPA-djp and vida private sector unions are launching a campaign to end the discrimination against care workers. Current legislation provides for an extra two hours' compensation for night work. However, many employers in the care sector fail to apply this to all care workers by exploiting a loophole in the legislation that specifies that the relevant care has to be provided in care wards. The unions argue that this is completely outdated and that the law needs changing to reflect currently reality. The unions are seeking 500 signatures to launch a citizens' initiative that, once formally accepted, will appear on the national parliament's website and around which the unions will campaign.
May. 14, 2019 The Kommunal municipal workers' union has negotiated a new agreement covering part-time firefighters which includes significant improvements in pay and allowances that acknowledge the importance of this group of workers and the massive demands made on them recently as a result of widespread forest fires. There is a 30% increase for those working additional shifts, equivalent to SEK 1475 (EUR 137) a week. There is also extra pay for those on call during summer months and higher pay for longer shifts. There is also 5% addition on the extra payment for their first hour of work.
May. 14, 2019 A strike by around 650 care workers, employees of the private company, Alternative Futures Group (AFG), has forced the employer to the negotiating table after management initially refused to negotiate with public service union Unison. The workers took strike action in protest at the company's decision to cut the allowance for sleepover shifts. This means cuts of up to GBP 2000 (EUR 2300) a year for some workers. Talks between Unison and the Liverpool-based AFG were due to start on 17 May. Meanwhile cleaners at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow in Essex to the East of London have voted overwhelmingly to strike in protest at plans to outsource the service.
May. 14, 2019 A joint campaign of the three main trade union confederations has been successful in getting support for a referendum to undo legal changes that increased the retirement age to 67. The unions needed to reach a target of 373,568 signatures (10% of registered voters) in a two-week campaign that ended on 11 May. They easily passed the threshold, amassing 600,000 signatures and its now up to the government to respond and confirm that it will organise the referendum.
May. 14, 2019 The presidents and general secretaries of the three main public service federations - FP-CGIL, UIL-FPL and CISL-FP - met with representatives of the two main private health employers' organisations, AIOP and ARIS on 3 May. The meeting was an attempt to resolve a conflict and negotiate the renewal of the collective agreement that was last negotiated 12 years ago. The unions want pay in the private sector aligned with that in the public health collective agreement. They also want a national agreement and so no regional variations. The talks are now suspended while the unions wait for the employers to confirm that there are the financial resources available to fund the agreement.
May. 15, 2019 The public service federations within the CCOO confederation have called on the government to pay an additional increase of 0.25% for 2019 that would take the increase this year to 2.5% and ensure an increase in purchasing power for public sector workers. The 0.25% is part of an agreement where pay increases are linked to increases in economic output (GDP). The unions are concerned that the government has known since January that the payment would be due but has taken no action. The CCOO federations are also giving further impetus to their campaign to restore rights lost under austerity covering wages, jobs, the 35-hour week, medical leave, equality plans and partial retirement.
May. 16, 2019 On 14 May the European Court of Justice (ECJ) issued an important ruling that effectively requires Member States to establish rules for employers to record their employees' working time. In a case about overtime brought against Deutsche Bank by the FS-CCOO services federation in Spain, the ECJ stated that workers' rights to protection as afforded by the Working Time Directive cannot be properly ensured unless there is an objective measure of their working hours. The Court said it is up to Member States how they ensure that employers comply with the ruling.
May. 16, 2019 The FNV and other trade union organisations are mobilising for a major national demonstration over pensions and retirement on 29 May. They have three key demands - to keep the current retirement age of 66 and stop the proposed increase to 67, to ensure pensions are indexed to protect against inflation for both current and future pensioners and to ensure everyone can build up a pension, whether on a permanent or temporary contract or self-employed. Transport workers across much of the country will also be taking strike action on 28 May in support of these demands.
May. 16, 2019 The POEDIN health workers' union organised a national strike and demonstration on 16 May in protest at the austerity still being suffered by the public health service. The union argues that massive underfunding and staff shortages are making it impossible to deliver services and many people are forced to use the expensive private sector as waiting lists rise. There is a recruitment crisis in the sector with no new workers taken on over the last three years while 3000 have retired. Overall staffing is 6000 below its 2014 level while workers face poverty wages. A university trained nurse has a starting salary of only EUR 640 a month. Understaffing has led to overwork with hospital workers owed anything from 60 to 150 days' of compensatory leave.
May. 16, 2019 Negotiations over the pay and conditions of 55000 hospitals doctors are set to resume on 21 May with the Marburger Bund doctors' union looking for a clear statement from the VKA municipal employers' organisation on two key points - the demand for two free weekends each month and a maximum number of hours on standby duty. The union has organised a number of warning strikes to support its negotiating team and will consider further action if the VKA doesn't make a better offer in the next negotiating round.
May. 16, 2019 Local government union STAL and other unions in the public sector Frente Comum took part in a major national demonstration on 10 May as part of their long-running campaign to improve pay and working conditions in the public services and reverse the cuts imposed as part of austerity measures. Along with higher pay and better pensions, the unions want to see clear commitments to improve career progression and action on working time.