2023 January EPSU Collective Bargaining Newsletter No.2
The UK trade union movement has been angered by the government’s rushed draft legislation to impose minimum service levels on public service strikers. The government claims it is bringing the UK into line with countries like Italy and Spain but fails to acknowledge the different systems in those countries that guarantee the right to strike and impose no requirements on balloting for industrial action. The UK legislation, if passed, would not ensure that trade unions can negotiate minimum service levels and would allow employers to dismiss workers who failed to comply with the requirement to
All the major trade union organisations – including CGT, CFDT, FO, UNSA, CFE-CGC – along with student groups were involved in coordinated, nationwide strikes and protests on 19 January in opposition to government plans to reform the pensions system. Trade unions are opposed to the increase in pension age and years of contributions required to get a full pension. They cite the independent Pensions Advisory Council that says that the financing of the pensions system is not under threat. The trade unions have set out alternative plans, including measures to support workers in their fifties to
The ver.di services union is calling for a 10.5% (minimum €500 a month) pay increase for the 21000 workers covered by the collective agreement at Helios, the biggest private hospital group in the country. The union argues that the hard work of health employees needs to be recognised at the same time as the need to protect workers’ purchasing power in the face of soaring inflation. Ver.di wants a 12-month agreement and rejects the idea of any compensation in the form of a one-off payment. Meanwhile, the union has criticised the impact of the commercialisation of care in light of the collapse of
Members of the SIPTU union working as retained (part-time) firefighters have voted overwhelmingly for industrial action, including strike action, in protest at the failure to address problems in relation to pay, leave and working time. The union argues that serious recruitment and retention problems are putting extra pressure on existing staff who have also seen a decline in their pay and are finding increasingly difficult to take leave. SIPTU is calling for the introduction of a structure system of pay and conditions.
The JHL trade union has expressed frustration at the decision of the state and church employers not to finalise negotiations over pay increases for 2023. They are apparently waiting to see how things develop in the key technology industry in the private sector. JHL raises the question of whether the church and state employers should be looking towards the private sector to influence their negotiations and also whether or not this is in effect a form of coordination that employer organisations have rejected in the past. In both church and state negotiations there is a commitment to negotiate a
Public service federations, including FeSP-UGT and FSC-CCOO, have taken further steps in implementing the collective agreement covering public administration that covers a wide range of important issues including digitalisation, attracting talent, guaranteeing the 35-hour week, professional classification, partial retirement and equality plans. The second meeting of the committee that monitors implementation of the agreement focused on payment of the additional 1.5% pay rise and the re-establishment of rights cut during the austerity period. There were specific discussions on the timeline to
A survey for the SAHP trade union found that 43% of its members faced violent threats at some point in 2022 and 22% were subjected to actual violence at some point during the year. The research revealed that mental illness and the influence of alcohol and/or drugs are the most common factors in violent incidents. Worryingly only half of those subjected to threats or violence say that some form of report was made. The SAHP says that employers should always show zero tolerance for threats and violence against healthcare professionals and must increase the preventive work with risk assessments
The International Labour Organisation has published a new report on working time and work-life balance that reviews working hours and working time arrangements and their effects on workers' work-life balance. It finds that over one-third of all workers are regularly working more than 48 hours per week, while a fifth of the global workforce is at the opposite end of the spectrum working short (part-time) hours less than 35 per week. The report concludes with a summary of the key findings which suggest the need to promote reduced working time and offer flexible working time arrangements, such as
The Fp-Cgil public service federation has described the level of attacks on health workers as a national emergency. According to the INAIL institute for insurance against workplace accidents, in the last five years, there have been more than 12000 incidents at work classified as violence, aggression, threats and the like, with an average of about 2,500 per year, 75% of which affect women. The union argues that in this context, all preventive actions are indispensable and as part of its campaign “let's take care of those who care for us!”, the federation has reminded its members of the guidance
The FNV trade will launch a campaign of industrial action across local government on 24 January in response to the employers’ failure to come up with an improved pay offer. The union is looking for an increase of 12% and general compensation for inflation but the employers offered only an increase of 5% in February 2023 and 3% in April 2024. The action will begin with a two-day stoppage by waste workers in Almere near to Amsterdam. Action will also follow in Tilburg and Rotterdam and at the end of the month in Amsterdam. The collective agreement in the sector covers around 187000 workers.
A documentary on Norwegian TV and a survey by the FOA trade union in Denmark expose similar problems facing workers in eldercare as they have too many clients, leaving those requiring care regularly seeing lots of different carers for short periods of time. Reacting to the documentary the Fagforbundet trade union highlighted the problem of so many care staff working part-time, chasing shifts to try to make ends meet and being part of a continuing turnover of staff so that there is little continuity for those needing care. In Denmark, the FOA argues that staff spend too little time with those
Continuing actions from last year, members of the HSCMTU health workers’ union organised a demonstration on 17 January to raise concerns about low pay and changes to working conditions. The workers then took their protest inside the emergency services head office with several remaining in the building overnight to highlight the strength of feeling about their situation. Changes to rules on shift work mean that workers can’t work the extra hours they need to make ends meet and the ending of a contract to disinfect vehicles has left staff to do this work, so extra duties without additional pay