After several weeks of conflict, rallies and the threat of strike action, the HSMCTU health union, with the support of the GTUC confederation, secured an agreement from the Ministry of Health that it would not introduce a 12-hour work schedule for paramedics. The Ministry also agreed to remunerate employees’ overtime work and to have further meetings with the union to discuss how to increase salaries. The dispute had arisen following the Ministry’s decision to remove a wage supplement that had been introduced during the Covid pandemic and its plan to introduce a 12-hour work schedule. Ambulance staff and their unions pointed out that this would have led to a reduction in crews.
Health union action blocks 12-hour shift change
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The FO, CGT, SUD and UNSA health federations have written to the health minister calling for an end to 12-hour shifts in the public health sector. Referring to evidence presented to the health and safety committee for the sector, the unions highlight the increased risks faced by those working 12 hour shifts compared to workers on eight hour shifts. The evidence shows greater risks of musculo-skeletal disorders and other health complaints, including high blood pressure and diabetes. There is also the increased of accidents with those working 12.5 hour shifts or longer three times more likely to
Trade unions mobilised over 100000 workers on 30 June in protest at a draft bill that would allow a 12-hour day and 60-hour week and the unions have said they will continue their campaign despite the law being voted through on 5 July. The trade unions have been campaigning against the proposals not just because they pose a threat to workers' health and safety, their rights to work-life balance and undermine rules on overtime but by legislating on the issue the government has intervened in what is seen as a key area of responsibility for the social partners and works councils.
The head of the GPA-djp services union and president of the ÖGB trade union confederation, Wolfgang Katzian, has called for the right to negotiate a four-day week in a challenge to the government's recent legislation to allow a 12-hour working day. Many collective agreements already allow the possibility to work a four-day week although this has rarely been implemented in practice. In advance of the autumn bargaining round, there will be a national conference for negotiators on 18 September to discuss working time and the prospect of bargaining around a four-day week or other initiatives to