2023 March EPSU Collective Bargaining Newsletter No.5
Health workers plan action while municipal deal agreed
Workers in over 50 hospitals are set to take part in industrial action this month as unions, including the FNV and NU’91, put pressure on the employers FBZ employers’ organisation to come up with a decent pay offer. The unions will be organising a “Sunday service” on the day of protest in support of their claim for a 10% increase for the 200,000 employees in the sector. They are also calling for improved travel allowances and greater control over work schedules. Meanwhile, following a campaign of strike action in local government, the FNV has agreed a pay rise for the 180,000 workers in the
Strike campaign to be stepped up in federal and local government
The ver.di trade union is organising further warning strikes following what it regards as a wholly inadequate pay offer from employers in federal and local government. The union is seeking a 10.5% pay increase with a minimum of €500 a month for the 2.5 million workers covered by the agreement. The employers, however, have offered only 3% by the end of 2023 and 2% in mid-2024 in what would be a 27-month agreement. There would also be lump sum payments of €1000 and €1500. The next steps in the campaign of warning strikes involve trainees and local transport workers. The third round of bargaining
Health and central government strikes continue
The government has initiated pay talks with the RCN nursing union in England which has suspended strike action for the time being. However, the government has not engaged with other health unions that are currently involved in industrial action. Members of the UNISON trade union across the ambulance service and other parts of the health service are taking action on 8 March, including several workplaces where a re-ballot of members delivered the required majority for strike action. Health workers have also been taking action in Northern Ireland. Ambulance workers represented by the GMB union
Unions determined to keep up pressure over pension reform
The main trade union confederations – CFDT, CGT, FO, UNSA and CGE-CFC – along with organisations representing students and retired workers are maintaining their strong mobilisation against the government plans to reform pensions and in particular to increase the pension age from 62 to 64. The next, and sixth, day of action will be on 7 March but the unions are also calling for protests on 8 March – International Women’s Day – to highlight how the reforms will fail to address gender inequality in pension provision.
Health union in national protest
The POEDHN health workers’ union, supported by the ADEDY public sector trade union confederation, organised a national demonstration on 22 February with calls for urgent action on health service funding. The union is demanding increased staffing and measures to address the widespread use of precarious contracts across the health service. It is also continuing to campaign for better pay and conditions with many health workers facing low pay, often little more than the minimum wage. This is a long-term legacy of austerity with pay cuts imposed in 2009 and pay frozen since 2015.
Health union wants employer back at negotiating table
After a strong turnout for its national warning strike in private hospitals, the vida trade union is calling on the employers to get negotiations going again and make a decent pay offer. The union wants a €2000 minimum monthly salary in the sector and a pay increase above inflation not just to support workers’ purchasing power but to bring the agreement more in line with others in healthcare. Vida is also calling for urgent action to improve pay and conditions as a step towards tackling the staffing shortage among midwives. As a first step the union wants to see all midwives to be covered by
Public service unions coordinate week of action
The three main federations in the public services – ACV/CSC, CGSP/ACOD and SLPF/VSOA – have called for a week of action from 6 to 10 March to highlight the staffing and funding crisis facing all parts of the sector. The federations will be coordinating a series of actions with calls to strengthen public services with more public investment and funding and end the push for privatisation. They also want to see improvements to pay and conditions to make public services more attractive to work in and especially to stop the attacks on public service pensions. Finally, the federations want to see
Federations continue their campaign for statute for forest firefighters
On 28 February the FSC-CCOO and FeSP-UGT public service federations organised a demonstration outside the Ministry for Ecological Transition in the latest stage of their long-running campaign to secure a coherent, national statute covering the 20,000+ people who work as forest firefighters. The long-promised statute should be confirmed in the coming months but the trade unions want to keep up the pressure to ensure that there are no delays and that some of their remaining issues of concern are addressed. These include qualifications and competences covered by the statute, retirement issues
Municipalities experiment with working time initiatives
The HK Kommunal trade union reports that there are now new initiatives or experiments around working time in one in five municipalities. From the focus on working time flexibility to testing of the four-day work, there is an increased willingness, particularly since the pandemic, to move away from the more fixed and traditional patterns of work. The union stresses that any such change or experiment needs to be negotiated at local level and within the framework of the national agreement. HK Kommunal says that employee concerns need to be addressed and full consideration taken of the potential
New strike action over pensions in early years education
Following successful strike action in private childcare providers last autumn represented by the PBL employers’ organisation, the Fagforbundet trade union is again calling its members out on strike this time in the companies that are part of the NHO employers’ organisation. The aim is to ensure that workers in NHO companies are entitled to pensions on the same basis as municipal workers and those in the PBL agreement. This means a pension guaranteed for life and on a gender-equal basis and with some protection against the fluctuations of the stock market. Strikes began in a first group of
Justice ministry unions plan national protest
The FP-CGIL, CISL-FP and UIL-PA trade union federations are coordinating a national protest of workers in the Ministry of Justice on 10 March in order to put pressure on the ministry to negotiate with the unions over a range of measures essential to improve services. The unions highlight the need to increase staffing through an emergency recruitment plan along with action on pay and conditions, career development and initiatives to reduce precarious work. The unions have been raising all these issues for months but have received no response or indication of a willingness to negotiate.
Strike action to hit private hospitals as public sector unions take action
The SEP nurses’ union has called for a day of strike action on 16 March in the private hospitals that are part of the APHP employers’ organisation. The main demands include a 35-hour week for all, a pay increase of 10% and similar increases on allowances, 25 days’ paid leave a year, improved unsocial hours payments and a higher meal allowance. Public sector unions in the Frente Comum are also continuing their campaign for better pay with a strike in public administration on 17 March and national demonstration on the 18th.