2021 EPSU Collective Bargaining News March No.5
Victory for union in private health dispute
The Fagforbundet public services union is celebrating a positive result after 30 days of strike action by some of its members in the private health sector. The aim of the strike was to ensure that agreements in the sector kept pay in line with the public sector. This was achieved including an historic rise in the minimum wage up by NOK 80000 (EUR 7800) to NOK 300000 (EUR 29250). The strike action was challenged by the NHO employers’ organisation, but the Labour Court ruled that the strike was legal and not in breach of the peace obligation. The union and employers are now committed to further
Unions continue protests against pay freeze
Public sector unions have been active in protests against the government’s refusal to abide by legislation and implement a pay increase for public sector workers. They are also challenging the government for its failure to agree to any social dialogue with the unions and are concerned about possible cuts to bonuses and holiday allowances. Health workers took action in January and other public service workers continued the protests through February and are now considering what further action to take. The Publisind federation that includes the SNPP police and prison officers’ union have also
Civil service union secures 13% pay rise over three years
PCS, the largest union in the civil service, has negotiated a three-year deal covering workers in the HMRC department (revenues and customs), the third largest section of the civil service with around 60000 workers. The deal includes an average 13% increase in pay over three years: with 3% paid in March 2021 and backdated to June 2020; a further 5% payable from June 2021; and a further 5% payable from June 2022. The pay award is significantly weighted towards providing major increases for the lowest paid. The agreement also allows for significant progression through the various pay ranges for
Unions continue to mobilise for new agreement in public administration
Following their strike action on 9 December last year, the four unions that organise in public administration – Fp-Cgil, Cisl-Fp, Uil-Fpl and Uil-Pa – are continuing to mobilise to secure a new collective agreement and for investment in the modernisation of the sector. The unions are calling for action on staffing not just to increase recruitment overall but also to reduce the extent of precarious contracts and to improve and increase the provision of training. Furthermore, they want measures in place to guarantee workers’ safety in view of the persistence of the pandemic.
Union calls for paid internships in healthcare
The GÖD public service union is calling for compulsory paid internships in the health and care sector. It says that with changes to training implemented in 2016, workers on higher education courses have to undertake compulsory practical work in hospitals and care centres. This amounts to over 2000 hours of unpaid work during training, including night and weekend work. GÖD underlines the importance of increasing recruitment into the sector to tackle shortages of skilled staff, making it essential that internships are properly paid.
Red Cross workers agree on 3.4% pay rise
Members of the ver.di services union employed by the Red Cross have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a pay settlement agreed after arbitration. Workers will get a 1.5% increase as of 1 April 2021 with a minimum guarantee of EUR 50 per month. The increase in April 2022 will be 1.9% and trainees will get increases of EUR 40 in each year. Workers will also get a COVID bonus depending on their pay level – this ranges from EUR 225 to EUR 600. The agreement includes increases in allowances such as shift pay and measures for specific workers including paramedics, nurses and day-centre staff
Union threatens strike action over job evaluation
Members of the SIPTU services union working in the private, non-profit Bon Secours Health System are to commence a national ballot for industrial action in order to secure a job evaluation process for up to 500 support grade workers. Bon Secours and SIPTU have a long-standing agreement linking the pay and working conditions in the organisation to those of workers in the public health systems. The actions of management in recent weeks have threatened this link and the employers are refusing to engage with the union. SIPTU underlines the fact that support grade workers, including health care
Union pushes for wider application of COVID-19 bonuses
The vpod public services trade union has welcomed the award of a COVID-19 bonus at the Cantonal (regional) hospital in Zug. The allocation of CHFr 1.2 million (EUR 1.1m) will mean the 1000-strong staff will get about CHFr 1000 each (EUR 1080). The union argues that such payments should be applied more broadly across the sector and launched a campaign at the end of February targeting 300 health institutions in three other cantons – St Gallen, Thurgau and Appenzell. The vpod stresses the fact that this is a special payment and doesn’t deflect from the need for much better pay and conditions for
Confederations organise protest to unblock cross-sector negotiations
The biennial cross-sector negotiations remain in stalemate with the employers refusing to budge on the 0.4% margin for negotiations. The confederations are arguing strongly that this is unacceptable and fails to recognise the differential impact of the pandemic across the economy and the need to acknowledge the additional risks faced by workers in dealing with the virus. A number of work stoppages and rallies took place across the country on 25 February to put pressure on the employers to come up with an improved offer.
Prison services union takes action over safety and staffing
The OSYE prison services union took six days of strike action at the end of February and beginning of March over key demands on safety and staffing. The union is particularly concerned about staff on long working hours and the massive backlog of rest days and holidays that are owed to workers who have done extra shifts to compensate for understaffing. EPSU sent a message of solidarity.
European Commission finally publishes pay transparency directive
After considerable delay the European Commission published its draft directive on pay transparency which the ETUC welcomed as having many good principles but lacking the real tools to make it work in practice. While the ETUC expects the directive to reduce secrecy on pay, it is concerned that pay audits and action plans will only apply to organisations with over 250 employees. The ETUC is also critical of the fact that the directive allows employers to define which jobs to use in comparisons of equal pay for work of equal value and refers throughout to ‘workers representatives’ instead of
Study highlights union role in response to pandemic
A new study of the impact of the pandemic in social care in eight countries reveals the problems faced by social care workers and the extent to which trade union action has helped to address issues around personal protective equipment (PPE), sick pay, working time and understaffing. There has been a shortage of PPE in all countries, but it was only in Sweden that a trade union had to take legal action for its members' right to use personal protective equipment. Increased overtime was a challenge in all countries but with split shifts being a particular problem in Sweden. The pandemic exposed