The VPOD public services union supported demonstrations in more than 25 towns and cities across the country on 9 April calling for action on working time. The protests focused on the potential environmental benefits of shorter working time along with the positive outcomes in terms of gender equality and workers’ rights. VPOD noted that progress on working time reduction has been limited with average working in Switzerland still closed to 42 hours a week. The union underlined the importance of improving work-life balance and the prospects of having a fairer share of domestic responsibilities if working time were reduced.
Union backs protest on working time
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The state council of the Zürich region (canton) has ruled in favour of the vpod public service trade union on the question of time taken by workers to change into and out of work clothes that this should be treated as working time and paid as such. The vpod has pursued the issue particularly for health workers and is now preparing pay claims to recognise the loss of earnings in cases where the time has not been paid. On the basis of a survey, the union estimates that time for changing clothes can be around 15-20 per day and so is could account for two full weeks a year.
Workers from three psychiatric hospitals in Paris took strike action and joined a demonstration on 6 September to show their anger over plans to introduce new working time arrangements. The joint action was called by the CGT, CFDT, FO, CFE-CGC and SUD trade unions who argue that the management plans for working time for the 5000 employees will mean that workers will lose between five and 10 rest days a year. The trade unions argue that this would be unacceptable in normal circumstances but is even worse in a situation where many workers are already exhausted as a result of excessive workloads.
Hospital workers have begun a series of protest actions to put pressure on the NVZ employers' organisation in difficult negotiations over a new collective agreement that covers 200000 workers. So far workers in hospitals in Amsterdam, Alkmaar, Assen and Eindhoven have taken part and the actions are set to spread. Meanwhile, workers at the Evean health and care company have won improvements in working time, notably guaranteed paid breaks and an eight-hour limit to the working day that are seen as important measures to help tackle overwork, stress and poor work-life balance.