2021 EPSU Collective Bargaining News January No.1
Health and social care unions in the Basque region have been involved in a series of protests and strikes. Mobilisations in public health during December and January will culminate in a day of strike action on 28 January. The unions are angry about the failure of the public health system to honour basic rights to information and collective bargaining. They are concerned about the impact of the pandemic on the system and the way that management have responded by taking unilateral decisions on working conditions, health and safety and precarious employment. Two days earlier, on 26 January unions
Negotiations between the Kommunal public services union and the section of the Almega employers’ organisation representing private care companies have stalled. The union has announced that industrial action will begin on 15 January unless Almega comes up with an improved offer. Approximately 55,000 workers are covered by the agreement which includes eldercare provision and jobs such as assistant nurses, care assistants and catering staff. Initially the industrial action will take the form of an overtime ban. Kommunal wants to ensure that pay and conditions for private care staff are in line
Trade unions aim to challenge a change to dismissal and retirement rights that took effect on 1 January. This was a last-minute change introduced by the government as part of a new package of measures in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The legislation means that employers can now dismiss without justification any worker who reaches state pension age. The unions have attacked the change on several grounds. It was introduced without any due process of social dialogue; it is a permanent change rather than part of a temporary response to the pandemic; it flies in the face of many efforts in
Last month, the leadership of the UPOZ trade union representing administration, judicial system and civil society organizations met with the minister for labour for the first time. Top of the agenda was the branch collective agreement with the union expressing concerns about its application and in particular a clause about the payment of a holiday allowance. However, the union also raised other issues in relation to the agreement and social dialogue, including its right to be consulted over the state budget. EPSU has written to the prime minister expressing support for UPOZ and calling on him
The FNV trade union is seeking a 5% pay increase from 1 January 2021 for the 7000 workers in the private waste sector. It is also claiming a EUR 500 bonus in recognition of the increased risks that workers have faced during the pandemic. A 5% increase would be worth around EUR 50 gross per month, but the employers have only offered an increase worth EUR 40 gross as of 1 June. They have also only offered a EUR 250 lump sum. There, however, agreement on other issues including pensions and sustainable employment. The union will consider work stoppages if the employers don’t come up with a better
The ver.di trade union has warned of problems being created in childcare institutions because of a lack of clarity and consistency in rules that should apply during the current pandemic. The union says that it isn’t right to leave it up to parents and the local management of childcare facilities to decide on their own rules and this fails to ensure planned approach to address the incidence of the virus among children and the increase in sickness among staff. Ver.di argues that the plan adopted by the city of Bremen provides a good example of what is needed to be negotiated at national level in
The vida and GPA-djp trade unions have negotiated increases for minimum pay rates for workers in private childcare institutions that are not covered by collective agreements. Teachers and staff get a 1.95% while assistants will get a 2% increase. The unions are pleased that the increases are slightly above inflation and the trend in other agreements. Childminders will get a 2.5% rise and will now be entitled to an increase after every two years rather than three.
Around 9000 employees of British Gas were due to begin a five-day strike from 7 January in protest at the company’s decision to fire all workers and rehire them on worse pay and conditions. British Gas’s parent company Centrica claimed the measures are necessary in response to the impact of the pandemic. However, the GMB trade union, representing engineers and call-centre staff argue that the initiative is excessive particularly in view of the company’s latest reported operating profits. 89% of the union’s members in the company voted for the strike action.
Health and social care trade unions are taking action in January, following mobilisations at the end of 2020, calling on the government to ensure that its “Ségur de Santé” package of measures applies to all occupations in health and social care and across both public and private sectors. The package included two specific pay increases to be implemented in September last year and this coming March. Unions want to ensure that all workers benefit but they also want to see action in other areas such as recruitment and staffing levels.
A new law covering telework introduces important new rules for those involved in remote or home work as well as including a role for trade unions in ensuring workers’ rights. The protections cover dismissals, employer provision of equipment or requirement on the employer to compensate workers for using their equipment and clear rules to ensure that all worker consultations with the employer are during normal working time.
The Eurofound research agency has published a review on industrial relations developments across Europe in the period 2015-2019. It notes concerns in some sectors that social partner requests for implementation of their agreements through European legislation have been rejected, and that better links between EU and national levels are needed. It also argues that investing in social dialogue in ‘good times’ helps to ensure that it can be depended on in times of crisis. A review of first policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic shows that social partner involvement was generally more robust in
The mobilisation of workers in the EGF waste company on 18 December, reported in the EPSU Collective Bargaining Newsletter last month, was followed up with a 48-hour strike on 28 and 29 December. The action is part of a campaign by the STAL trade union to secure an increase in pay, payment of a supplement for risky and arduous work and a collective agreement. Meanwhile, in the public sector the SINTAP trade union has welcomed the inclusion in the 2021 state budget of provisions to allow for arduous work payments for waste and other workers in local government. However, the government has left