2021 EPSU Collective Bargaining News January No.2
Unions protest over block on pay rise
Public sector unions are angry that the government has issued an emergency ordinance to block a pay increase and bonus payments that are due for implementation this year. The pay rise was part of a four-stage increase that was set out in legislation passed in 2017. Unions are particularly concerned about the impact on lower paid workers as some higher paid staff are already benefiting from pay rises. Protests have been organised across the country, including pickets of key ministries. EPSU sent a letter of protest to the president and prime minister and other key people.
Unions continue to mobilise in energy and health and social care
On 19 January trade unions in the energy sector took further action in their campaign against the “Hercule” restructuring project in EDF, the main energy provider in France. EPSU and industriAll Europe sent a joint letter expressing their support for the unions, arguing that the plans pose a major threat to the company, its workers and the provision of energy as a public service. Meanwhile, unions representing health and social care also continued their protests on 12 and 21 January. A key issue is ensuring that pay increases awarded last year cover all health and social care workers
Health unions call for pay rise to be brought forward
Fourteen health service unions have submitted their evidence for negotiations for this year’s pay claim for 1.3 million NHS workers calling for early implementation. To back this up UNISON, the Royal College of Nursing and Royal College of Midwives have written to the prime minister also urging him to support a pay rise as soon as possible. Although the current agreement expires at the end of March, it would be unlikely that negotiations would be finished by then and in normal circumstances workers might not receive the pay increase until the summer. Unions argue that an early increase would
Threat of action delivers pay rise for private care workers
Around 55000 will benefit from pay increases in a new 29-month collective agreement negotiated between the Kommunal public services union and the Almega employer’s organisation. Kommunal had threatened to take industrial action when the employers said that they would meet the union’s demand for higher pay for vocationally trained employees but not for other lower paid workers. Following mediation, the union’s demands have been met and the agreement keeps private care workers in line with public sector deals. The union also pushed back the employers’ attempt to increase part-time employment.
Strike action in private care sector
The Fagforbundet and FO trade unions have called workers out on strike in the private care sector. The dispute covers a range of services such as substance abuse, psychiatry, child welfare, nursing and care, and includes for-profit and non-profit organizations. The NHO employers’ organisation is refusing to offer pay increases that would ensure that workers are on pay levels comparable to the same occupations in other agreements. The unions are concerned that the NHO agreement is falling behind and say that some employers have switched to the agreement specifically to take advantage of the
Three-year deal delivers 2.08% increase
The 125000 workers in private health and social care get a 2.08% pay increase this month as negotiated in the three-year agreement that was negotiated last year (EPSU Collective Bargaining News 2020 no.8). The agreement allowed for an increase of inflation plus 0.6% in January 2021 and so ensures that workers in the sector get a reasonable pay rise at a difficult time. The agreement also brought the pay rise forward to January from the normal February. It also provides for implementation of a 37-hour week from next year.
Waste workers take series of actions in support of pay claim
The FNV has been coordinating a series of actions by waste workers in support of its 5% pay claim for the sector. The union says that the employers’ “final” offer on pay is unacceptable as it would mean that some workers would not even see their purchasing power protected. The actions, including drive-in meetings, target different waste companies at different times and are aimed at raising the visibility of the dispute and are in compliance with COVID-19 restrictions.
2% pay rise and lump sum payment for energy workers
Following three rounds of bargaining, services union ver.di has negotiated a new 25-month agreement with the RWE energy company. The agreement covers 20000 workers and provides for a 2% pay rise from 1 March this year and a further 1.7% from 1 April next year. There will also be a EUR 1000 lump sum for full-time workers and proportionate amount for part timers. Apprentices will get EUR 600. In addition, ver.di members only will get an extra two days’ holiday a year.
Health workers set to get more uniform pay system
The government and ministry of health have started to work on drawing up a more unified public sector pay system that will impact on healthcare in particular. Currently, there is considerable scope for variation of pay and allowances across the country. This had led to significant internal migration by health workers which has increased during the pandemic. Allowances for working in rural areas can vary from nothing to 25%, for example, while additional payments for night work range from 20% to 50%. The relationship between basic and total salary can also vary significantly. There is some
Health unions ready to mobilise in support of negotiations at non-profit provider
The Fp-Cgil, Cisl-FP and Uil-Fpl public service federations are ready to mobilise their members unless the management at the Misercordie non-profit health and social service provider responds to their main demands. The unions want a resumption of negotiations on the collective agreement which hasn’t been renewed since 2012. They argue that workers deserve a new agreement in the light of all the sacrifices made to cope with the pandemic. The unions are also calling for clarification of the state of the organisation in the light of the resignation of top management and press reports of budgetary
ETUC highlights pay inequality in push for transparency directive
The ETUC is publishing examples of pay inequality from around in Europe in its campaign to put pressure on the European Commission to deliver on its promise of a pay transparency directive. The ETUC’s first examples from the manufacturing sector clearly how women are paid less even when their jobs require the same levels of skill and physical effort as those of men. The ETUC also points out that the Covid crisis has exposed the deep-rooted bias behind wages for professions dominated by women, with carers and cleaners recognised as ‘essential’ despite being amongst the lowest paid. ETUC (EN+FR)
Unions take next steps in campaign against forced retirement legislation
The trade union movement has applied for a judicial review of the change in law that effectively allows employers to summarily dismiss workers without reason once they reach pension age. They also want the legislation suspended. Unions reacted angrily to the new law which they argue was inappropriately included in a package of temporary measures to deal with the pandemic. The measure was implemented without any form of social dialogue and the unions have raised this specific concern with the European Commission.