Negotiations for a new collective agreement covering the state sector will begin in mid-January and the FNV trade union has surveyed members to identify the main priorities. Over 80% of respondents said that it was important for the union to maintain its proposed claim for a 5% pay increase. The feeling was that this was necessary to cover cost of living increases and recruit and retain staff. Members were also keen on an allowance for working from home or support to cover any costs related to home working. Early retirement is also on the agenda while the FNV will be looking for measures to ensure that temporary agency workers are only used for last-minute cover and not for work that should be done by workers on permanent contracts.
Union prepares for state sector negotiations
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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.
The European Commission has published its annual review of Employment and Social Developments which has a focus on intergenerational issues. The review notes the slow decline in unemployment but underlines that there remain major problems in some countries around youth unemployment while young workers in employment are more likely to face precarious employment conditions. At the other end of the age spectrum the Commission continues to focus on trends to higher effective retirement ages and the need, as it sees it, to increase retirement ages.
Unions from all sectors joined a national demonstration in Zagreb on 20 October in protest against changes to the pensions system, including an increase in pension age to 67. Unions are calling for a pension age of 65 and to retain rules on early retirement including the possibility of retiring at 60 with 41 years of contributions. EPSU sent a message of solidarity.