2021 EPSU Collective Bargaining Newsletter November No.22
Confederation organises protest to support public service pay claim
The KOZ trade union confederation organised a national demonstration in Bratislava on 27 October in support of the 13% pay claim by public service trade unions. The government has not offered any pay rise at all for 2022 and the unions are looking to ensure that workers are compensated for inflation, as energy and other prices soar, and for recent years when pay in the public sector has lagged behind increases in the minimum wage. KOZ also used the demonstration to draw attention to the impact of prices rises across the economy and to call for increases in pensions and other social benefits.
Union launches warning strikes and protests to boost bargaining position
The ver.di services union is organising action by regional government workers around the country in support of its negotiating position. The second round of bargaining covering 1.1 million workers ended on 2 November without a result and no pay offer from the TdL association of regional government employers. The union is looking for a 5% pay increase with a minimum increase of €150 but rising to €300 for health workers. Ver.di is astonished that the employers fail to recognise the efforts made by regional government workers, particularly health and care workers, during the pandemic.
ETUC highlights impact of higher minimum wages on gender pay gap
An analysis by the ETUC shows that higher minimum wages across Europe could have a massive impact on the gender pay gap. The ETUC has been calling for a double threshold – 50% of the average wage/60% of the median wage – to be used in the directive on Adequate Minimum Wages. If this were in force then the gender pay gap would be cut by 25% in Romania, by 19% in Greece, by 12% in Poland, by 11% in Slovakia and by 10% in Spain and Luxembourg. The ETUC underlines that many women are trapped in underpaid and undervalued jobs and make up 76% of the 49 million care workers in the EU. The pay
Unions unite in pay claim for care and community workers
Three trade unions – public services union Fórsa, general union SIPTU and nurses’ and midwives union INMO – have joined forces with the support of the ICTU confederation to secure a pay rise and collective bargaining forum for workers in voluntary and community services. The unions argue that many of these workers provide essential services but have not seen a pay rise since the 2008-09 economic and financial crisis. The aim is for a 3% pay rise this year and to establish a forum for future collective bargaining. The unions have also approached the government to get it to recognise its role in
Unions celebrate massive turnout for waste sector strike
The Fp-Cgil, Fit-Cisl, Uiltrasporti and Fiadel trade union federations report very high levels of support for the national strike action in the waste sector on 8 November. They estimate overall that 90% of workers joined the strike with 100% coverage in some areas. The trade unions are determined to retain and renew the sector agreement and to incorporate a range of improvements. They want to ensure the agreement covers the whole sector including recycling plants and they are calling for action on safety, training, job classification and to ensure real increases in pay and other benefits.
Confederation launches appeal to defend the right to strike
The FGTB/ABVV trade union confederation will appeal against the conviction of 17 trade unionists for their involvement in a road block during the general strike of 18 October 2015. On 19 October 2021, the Court of Appeal of Liège confirmed the judgement pronounced in November 2020 by the criminal court, with the activists given suspended prison sentences of 15 days or one month and fines ranging from €1,200 to €2,100 euros. The judgment was based on the offence of "malicious obstruction of traffic" provided for in Article 406 of the Belgian Penal Code which had been used before to convict a
Health union stages protest over 2022 budget
The FSSHK health workers’ trade union staged a protest outside the prime minister’s office on 8 November to highlight the situation facing workers in the sector. The union wants to ensure that the 2022 budget recognises the efforts and sacrifices made by health workers and the challenges they face in terms of pay and the rising cost of living.
National mobilisation over public sector pay, jobs and spending
The public service federations of the CCOO confederation coordinated mobilisations across the country on 10 November to put pressure on the government to negotiate over pay and conditions and public spending. The federations are determined to ensure that the pay and benefits lost following the last crisis are restored. They estimate that public sector workers saw their purchasing power fall by 11%-18%, with only 4% restored so far. The unions regard the 0.9% pay increase imposed for 2021 and the 2% proposed for 2022 as totally inadequate. They also want to see action on jobs and serious
Strike action over public sector pay and jobs on 12 November
Trade unions in the Frente Comum federation of public service unions were due to go ahead with a day of strike action on 12 November despite the national budget for 2022 being voted down and the calling of a snap election for the end of January 2022. The unions are calling for a pay rise for public sector workers, implementation of the allowance for arduous and dangerous work, action to reduce precarious employment and a range of other measures to improve employment conditions. In contrast, the FESAP federation of public service unions has withdrawn its strike call for 12 November, arguing
Waste and cleansing workers take action
Waste and cleansing workers in Sheffield in North East England and Glasgow in Scotland have been involved in industrial action over pay. The dispute in Sheffield is over a below-inflation pay offer from the contractor Veolia and the GMB trade union has called all-out action in response to the employer’s use of agency staff to try to undermine the action. The strike in Glasgow was also over pay and the attempt by the council to use the courts to block the action. It was supported by other workers and activists attending the COP26 climate conference. Industrial action by the UNISON public
Health workers plan third day of industrial action
The FNV and other unions that organise in the eight university medical centres (UMCs) are planning a third day of industrial action on 25 November unless the employers show willingness to re-open negotiations over pay, workloads and staffing. This will be the third day of action in the UMCs that employ around 80000 workers. The employers have said that they will negotiate over allocation of the extra €60 million of funding for pay provided by the government. However, the unions argue that even with the additional money this would still leave a below-inflation pay rise for the next three years
Unions unite in protests over crisis in health service
Health unions organising in both the public (GÖD and younion) and private (vida and GPA) sectors united with other health organisations in a major nationwide action on 10 November to highlight the state of the health service and the need for urgent action. The unions stress that staffing shortages were already apparent before the pandemic and their impact now is to leave most health and care workers both physically and mentally exhausted. They underline the need for increased staffing, improved and additional training and better employment conditions if a dangerous crisis is to be avoided. On