2022 February EPSU Collective Bargaining Newsletter No.4
With no response to their demands from the government, the health workers’ strike planned for 16 February went ahead. EPSU sent a message of solidarity. The health unions are calling on the government to stick to its commitment to negotiate on pay levels and job rankings that was part of an agreement signed last year. The unions want to see pay levels across the health sector adjusted to ensure fairness across the public sector and are protesting at the government’s unilateral decision to negotiate a separate pay rise for doctors and dentists.
The FeSP-UGT and unions in the CCOO confederation have called on the government to urgently address the continuing problem of temporary work in the public services. The unions say that the government needs to set out the criteria that should apply in transferring temporary staff to permanent status. Broadly speaking the unions want to ensure that all those who have been temporarily employed for at least three years have the opportunity to move to a permanent contract and that the process of doing so is clear, certain and equitable. They also want the public service ministry to clarify how the
Service union ver.di organised warning strikes in the statutory health insurance providers, AOK and BARMER on 8 February. The aim was to put pressure on the employers during negotiations that cover around 75,000 employees in the two companies. For workers in AOK ver.di is demanding a 5.9% increase and a minimum rise of €200 in a 12-month agreement. The employer wants a 24-month agreement with only a lump sum of €800 in March 2022 and a 1.2% in January 2023. Ver.di is also concerned that there are moves to exclude one AOK region from coverage of the agreement and is challenging the unilateral
The GPA and PRO-GE trade unions have negotiated a new collective agreement that provides an annual pay increase from 1 February of at least 3.6% with lower paid workers getting up to 4.0%. This takes the minimum monthly salary in the sector to €2,069.52. Allowances will increase by 3.85% while pay for apprentices will go up by an average of just over 6%. Other elements in the agreement include how previous periods of services are credited when workers are transferred to other employers and an increase of the overtime supplement to 50% for part-time workers.
Planned industrial action on 16 February by 500 hospital pharmacists, members of the Fórsa trade union, was called off as the dispute was referred to the Labour Court. The workers had voted overwhelmingly in favour of action in a dispute over pay and improvements in the hospital pharmacy service which had been put forward by the union but blocked by the public service ministry. The changes would deliver estimated cost savings of €55m per year, a figure validated by the Department of Health and the Health Services Executive.
Public service union UNISON has welcomed the announcement by the Welsh government that care workers in the country are to receive a bonus of £1000 after tax (€1200) in April, alongside the introduction of the real living wage. However, the union has warned that more needs to be done to encourage care workers stay or come into the sector. It has also expressed voiced disappointment that non-care staff are not covered. The union believes the Welsh government is responding to union and employer pressure because of the serious staffing crisis in care. UNISON has also been arguing for the early
The FNV and other unions representing health staff have negotiated a new agreement covering workers in general practice that will run from the beginning of 2022 to 1 January 2024. In May 2022 there will be a pay increase of 3% for the lower pay scales (1-9) and 2% for those pay scale 10 and above. The end-of-year bonus will be increased by one percentage point to 7.5%. In May 2023 there will be a general pay increase of 2.6% and the end-of-year bonus will be increased to 8.33%. There have been a number of other changes in relation to registration fees and training and further work to address
The revelations of poor treatment of both workers and residents by the Orpea care multinational have prompted unions across Europe to take action. In Belgium, the company has been approached to address questions of staffing levels and working conditions with the unions underlining the essential link between the well-being of workers and that of the people they care for. The unions are calling for negotiations on both the quality of employment and quality of service along with initiatives to make working in the sector more attractive to tackle the need to retain staff and recruit more workers
The Eurofound research agency has published an analysis of collective labour disputes. It found that collective bargaining was the context for over a third of disputes, with grievances over company-level policies making up another quarter and grievances over public policy accounting for a further 18%. More specifically, problems over pay accounted for over 40% of disputes, employment problems for 20%, other aspects of working conditions for 16%. In a period when the pandemic raised serious problems in terms of safety and staffing it wasn’t surprising that health and social care was among the
The latest edition of the ETUCLEX newsletter has just been published with news on labour reforms in Spain and a key legal case about trade union representation on company supervisory boards among others. ETUCLEX is the human rights, legal and strategic litigation network of the European Trade Union Confederation and its affiliates and last year established a website and database that provides information on legal developments at European and national level. By signing up affiliates can benefit from and contribute to the early identification of and communication on important pending cases
EPSU has sent solidarity greetings to its affiliate, the Industrial workers federation of Lithuania, which began an indefinite strike in the fertilizers and industrial chemicals company Achema on 8 February. This is thought to be the first strike in the country in the private sector in 30 years and the union reports that the 600 strikers have been put under considerable pressure by the company. The union is demanding an end to labour rights violations, a collective agreement, pay increase, and the creation of a climate of dialogue and information and consultation.
The US government has set out 70 recommendations to encourage collective bargaining and union membership making it easier for many federal employees to join unions and eliminating barriers for union organizers to talk with workers. A report by the administration’s Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment, says, “it is our administration’s belief that unions benefit all of us.” The report notes that union households earn up to 20% more than non-union households, with an even greater union advantage for workers with less formal education and workers of colour. The report calls for