The vida and GPA services unions have just launched their main demands in the “social economy” sector negotiations that cover 130,000 in private health and social care. The unions are calling for a pay increase that not only covers inflation (currently topping 9%), but also takes into account the hard work put in by employees over the past year. The unions also want to see more staff recruited and more free time, with the pandemic exposing the impact of staff shortages. They have a range of specific demands relating to overtime, job classifications and mileage allowances – all elements that can help boost pay. Other issues include improvements in the preparation time for childcare workers, a flexibility payment for short-term changes in rosters, higher pay for apprentices, support for apprenticeships with a high school diploma and a further reduction in working hours, after the implementation of the 37-hour week in 2020.
Health and care unions present ambitious bargaining demands
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The public and private sectors unions representing staff in early years education (younion, vida and GPA) have come together to demand action at national level on staffing and safety in childcare institutions. The unions want to see unified, national regulations applied on issues like COVID-19 and increased staffing to ensure that childcare institutions can maintain safety for both workers and children. The pandemic is still having an impact and with staff falling ill or having to quarantine, the pressure of work continues to increase for an already overburdened group of workers.
Public service union, younion has joined with private service unions GPA and vida as well as the ÖGB trade union confederation and Chamber of Labour to call on the government to take urgent steps to increase training in the childcare and after-school care sector. The unions point out that inadequate staffing levels were apparent before the pandemic but have become more acute and overburdened staff need the reassurance that newly trained staff will soon be recruited. They underline the fact that many workers in the sector are thinking about leaving and that a wave of retirements is also
The SuPer health and care union has published findings from a survey of workers in early years education that found more than half (53%) of respondents felt that the quality of service had deteriorated over the past five years with insufficient staff seen as the main problem. Over 1,000 union members replied to the survey, with 88% saying that they had experienced staff shortages in their work unit on at least a monthly basis. They survey also found that the increase in other tasks meant that workers had less time for direct contact with children. Almost 80% of respondents are considering