2023 October EPSU Collective Bargaining Newsletter No. 21
On 24 October, the BSRB public sector federation was one of more than a dozen organisations supporting a day of action calling for urgent action to address gender inequality, the gender pay gap and to tackle gender-based and sexual violence. Actions ranged from strikes and demonstrations to the withdrawal of all forms of labour, paid and unpaid. Since the first women’s day of action in 1975, unions and other organisations in the country have organised major strikes and protests and there has been some reduction in gender inequality. However, there is still a long way to go with the gender pay
The LVSADA health workers’ union reached an agreement with the Ministry of Health on 18 October that will deliver pay increases for doctors (10.6%), nurses (6.5%) and assistant nurses (6.9%) in 2024. This means that medical personnel will have seen pay rises of around 23-24% for the three-year period 2022-24. There will also be an additional €40 per month (gross, average) for non-medical personnel in 2024. The agreement was negotiated with the new health minister and resolves a long-standing dispute over pay.
The HSSMS-MT healthcare union reports that following the third round of public sector pay negotiations, unions have accepted a pay increase of 5%, an improvement on the 3% offer made in the second round of bargaining. The unions have also secured the €300 Christmas bonus that they were looking for and an Easter bonus of €100, less than they wanted but a €30 improvement on the previous offer. There is also a commitment that, should the new pay system not be in place by 1 March 2024, then negotiations would open for a general pay increase.
The ver.di trade union, leading negotiations covering 1.2 million workers in regional government, has set out the main claim for a 10.5% salary increase, but with a minimum increase of €500 a month. The demands also include an extra €200 for junior staff and trainees are to be taken on for an unlimited period. The unions want a 12-month agreement. Ver.di says employees have high expectations for the outcome of the negotiations and stresses that better pay and conditions are needed to help address the 300,000 staffing shortage across public services. An important aim will be to close the gap
Members of three trade unions – Fórsa, SIPTU and INMO – are voting on whether to accept a deal that might resolve a long-standing dispute over pay affecting non-profit health providers. The unions have been seeking to restore pay parity between workers in these bodies and directly employed public sector health and social care staff. Strike action was due to begin on 17 October but a revised offer from the employers lead the unions to suspend the action and consult members. Instead of the two-stage 5% increase offered in July, the employers have put forward a 3% increase backdated to 1 April
The latest review of working time developments by the Eurofound research agency notes increased debates around the issue of working time reduction but few examples of where this has been implemented in practice. It reports on a couple of examples of shorter working hours in the private and non-profit health and social care sectors in Austria and a municipal company in Portugal. The public sector agreement in Lithuania includes additional day’s leave for education and training while national legislation there now allows for a 32-hour/four-day week for state and municipal employees who have
Trade unions and their confederations continue to raise concerns about the government’s proposals that will impact trade union rights, employment conditions and the welfare state. Members of the SAK confederation has been involved in a series of events, protests and work stoppages since September and more are planned for November. The STTK confederation is mobilising for a major demonstration on 18 November while the AKAVA confederation is focused on getting the government around the negotiating table.
The FSC-CCOO federation reports that the ministries of justice and finance have promised a pay rise to all workers in the justice ministry on the basis that Pedro Sanchez is re-installed as the head of a new coalition government. However, the union says that the commitment is not enough to end the long-running dispute that has already involved two months of strike action. The FSC-CCOO has written to the ministry to demand immediate negotiations over a pay rise for all workers irrespective of who runs the government. Union demands also include action on career development, an end to pay
The FNV and other trade unions have set a deadline of 1 November for employers in the youth sector to come up with an improved pay offer or they will aim for a major mobilisation on 20 November. This would be the 10th time in recent years that unions have had to take to the streets to push their demands. The unions argue that the employers’ “final offer” would only lead to more workers leaving the sector and further increases to staff shortages. The biggest stumbling block during the negotiations was inflation compensation for 2023. Following just a 1% pay increase on 3 January, the unions are
The Kommunal trade union has negotiated two two-year collective agreements with the Fremia employers’ organisation that covers non-profit service providers. In the agreement with Fremia covering personal assistance, wage increases will be negotiated around an amount of at least SEK 993 (€84) from 1 October 2023 and at least SEK 875 (€74) from 1 October 2024. Minimum wage rates will be increased by SEK 1,350 (€115) from 1 January 2024 and by SEK 875 (€74) from 1 January 2025 while all allowances and supplements will be increased by 4.1% and 3.3% on the same dates. In the civil society agreement
Both the SINTAP and STAL unions have expressed discontent with the pay increase on offer for public service workers in 2024. The overall wage bill will rise by over 5% with increases ranging from 3% to over 6% depending on position in the pay scale. The two unions argue that this level of increase will not compensate for the recent loss of purchasing power because of higher inflation. STAL estimates a 5.1% fall in real terms in 2022-23 alone. SINTAP has called for a re-opening of negotiations while STAL has called a national strike for 27 October. The strike, also supported by the Frente Comum
The first round of bargaining for a 2024 pay increase for public sector workers took place on 20 October and as usual the basic aim was to agree the key figures on which the negotiations would be based. These were established as 9.15% for inflation (year to September 2023) and forecasts of a 0.4%-0.8% decline in economic output. The negotiations involve the public sector unions younion and GÖD. Meanwhile, the first round of bargaining in private health and social care was disappointing for the vida and GPA trade unions as the employer offer of an 8.8% increase was well below the unions’ claim