2021 EPSU Collective Bargaining Newsletter October No.21
Following last month’s strike in university medical centres, the FNV and other trade unions organised another national strike on 26 October, this time affecting more than three times as many departments across the eight centres. The action is effectively imposing a Sunday service across 279 departments including operating theatres, radiology services, laboratories, outpatient clinics and various nursing departments. All emergency care continues. The unions are calling for a 3% pay increase for all workers and action to tackle understaffing and excessive workloads.
The vpod/ssp trade union is mobilising for a national demonstration of health workers in Berne on 30 October. The aim of the protest is to highlight the efforts and sacrifices that health workers have made in responding to the COVID-19 crisis. Key demands include a COVID bonus but also action to deal with the long-standing problems of pay and understaffing in the sector. The union is also calling for measures to improve training, work-life balance and retirement provision and argues that pay increases should reflect the arduousness of many health workers’ jobs.
The federations that organise workers in waste and environmental services – Fp-Cgil, Fit-Cisl, Uiltrasporti and Fiadel – have called for a national strike on 8 November. The unions are mobilising hard to maximise turnout and ensure the key messages of the dispute are fully understood. They are facing up to employers who are pushing to unilaterally worsen employment conditions for all workers with a view to cut labour costs and eliminate the unions. The unions are determined to resist precarious working conditions and calls to decentralise bargaining and so fragment the main sector agreement. A
On 3 September, employees in the opera, theatre and orchestras sector went on strike to demand a pension scheme that works equally for women and men and lasts a lifetime. On September 8, the strike escalated further and then more workers joined the strike after an unsuccessful mediation on 30 September. Another escalation occurred on 18 October before the dispute was finally resolved on 25 October. A new hybrid pension scheme will now be introduced ensuring equal treatment of men and women. In the employers’ original offer women would have lost out by as much as NOK 1000 (€100) a month and NOK
The FSC-CCOO public services federation organised a protest outside the General Directorate of Public Administration on 15 October in anticipation of a series of one-day strikes by theatre and museum staff. The dispute is over two issues. The first is the demand that museum security staff should be on the E2 pay grade and not the only group of workers stuck on the E1 grade. The second issue relates to access to technical jobs at the INAEM cultural agency and the failure to recognise certain training and qualification. FSC-CCOO argues that the INAEM should be fully integrated into the IV
The ver.di services union has called for the new parliament, meeting for the first time on 26 October, and eventually the new government to set an example by supporting a collective agreement for the parliament’s drivers. The union says that the workers are paid less, work longer hours and have poorer pension entitlement than colleagues who are covered by the public sector agreement that covers federal employees. While ver.di is positive about the signs of support from social democratic MPs, it has made clear that the drivers are willing to fight for a collective agreement and further strike
SIPTU, the union that represents around 6000 workers in early years education, has welcomed the government’s decision to increase funding for the sector with an additional €69 million in the 2022 budget. With average pay at €11.91 an hour, the union is calling for urgent action on pay in order to tackle recruitment and retention in the sector where around four in 10 workers are looking for alternative employment. SIPTU is calling for pay talks to begin as soon as possible in the newly established Early Years Joint Labour Committee where a negotiated pay increase will be legally enforced.
The KNSB trade union confederation has published 22 demands on a range of issues that would boost pay and welfare benefits and help address poverty and the impact of soaring energy costs. Bearing in mind the discussions at European level about a minimum wage that should be at least 50% of the average wage and 60% of the median wage, the KNSB is looking for the minimum wage to rise to €700 as soon as possible and to €764 by the beginning of 2022. The confederation is also calling for wage rises across the economy and specifically for public sector workers an increase of at least 12.5% in 2022.
Civil service unions, including OSSOO representing state workers and those representing health, social care (OSZSP) and cultural workers, signed a new higher-level collective agreement on 4 October. The agreement will run from 1 January to 31 December 2022 with the possibility of an extension for a further year. The agreement covers a range of rights such as paid leave for personal reasons, so-called indisposition leave, and service- and age-related payments as well as invalidity and retirement pensions. The new agreement is not changed much from the previous one with some clarification
A new report from municipal services union Kommunal reveals how the pandemic affected workers across the sectors in which it organises. Based on interviews with nurses, cleaners, paramedics, caretakers and other workers, the report confirms the huge impact on healthcare where workers’ efforts have been central to the management of the pandemic. Employees have had to make huge sacrifices, working extra shifts, double shifts and overtime, with many authorities having to hire temporary staff, get pensioners back to work and with staff having holidays cancelled or being transferred to different
A new report from the Eurofound research agency argues that social dialogue plays a critical role in digitalisation at the workplace. It says that an approach that disregards employee participation and engagement will amplify negative impacts on working conditions while in the context of technological change, social dialogue can encourage greater acceptance by employees of new technologies. Among other findings the report also warns that the Internet of Things raises the greatest concerns when used for employee performance monitoring, requiring greater safeguards to protect workers’
The three main local government unions in Scotland – UNISON, Unite and GMB – have given notice of strike action on the five days 8-12 November. Initially members employed in school cleaning, school catering, school janitorial, waste, recycling and fleet maintenance services will be called out at the start of what could be an escalating period of action if the employers do not come up with a better pay offer. Highlighting the increased workloads and risks faced by many council workers during the pandemic, the unions argue that their members are at breaking point and are worth more than what is