2020 EPSU Collective Bargaining News May 09
IN THIS ISSUE:
- Spain: Federations call for action on staffing and pay in the elder care sector
- Germany: Photo action highlights call for better pay and conditions for care workers
- Netherlands: Union focuses on care staff risks and confirms social work agreement
- Sweden: Union refers agency to ombudsman over COVID-19 failures
- Italy: Confederations criticise failure to support health staff
- Austria: Unions call for national rules for childcare
- Czech Republic: Unions call for wider payment of COVID-19 bonuses
- UK: Care workers to get £500 bonus
- Croatia: Unions reject government’s plan to block pay rise
- Belgium: Unions criticise two decrees on health workers
- Europe: Energy group makes social protection commitment
- North Macedonia: Unions secures reversal of plan to suspend allowances
- Cyprus: Union to take austerity case to court of human rights
- Europe: ETUC monitoring social dialogue during the crisis
- France: Health unions warn of continuing problems with safety equipment
May. 04, 2020 The Sanidad-CCOO and FeSP-UGT public service federations have called for a range of actions in the elder care sector in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Both federations were already campaigning to secure better pay and conditions for the workforce, 90% of which are women. They both argue that the impact of the pandemic has further exposed the fundamental problems of low pay, inadequate staffing, stress, excessive workloads. These have been compounded by the lack of personal protective equipment and inadequate testing which have exposed both workers and service users to the virus. Key union demands include an audit of care homes, higher pay and increased staffing, more funding from central government and a greater role for the public sector.
May. 04, 2020 On 28 and 29 April, the ver.di union, representing health and care workers, organised a photo action, projecting photos of care workers on key buildings including the ministry of health and parliament. The union was drawing attention to the work being done by hundreds of thousands of workers across health and social care despite the risks and often without adequate personal protective equipment. According to the union at least 42 health and care staff have died as a result of COVID-19. While welcoming the EUR 1500 bonus paid to staff in elder care, the union points out that not only have many health and other social care workers not received any bonus, but more importantly action needs to be taken in the longer term to improve pay and conditions across the sector.
May. 04, 2020 The FNV trade union has again criticised the failure to provide adequate personal protective equipment and COVID-19 testing for health staff. The unions says that at least nine health workers have died as a result of the virus and that measures still need to be taken to ensure that safety is prioritised. The FNV also argues that this is a longer term problem and the involvement of employees in safety protocols is essential. Meanwhile the union has confirmed that the collective agreement covering social workers has been declared generally binding and so covers all workers in the sector. The two-year deal runs to July 2021 and includes pay increases of 3.25% for both 2019 and 2020 along with the same increases for holiday allowances and end-of-year bonuses.
May. 05, 2020 Kommunal, the municipal workers' union, has referred the Work Environment Authority to the parliamentary ombudsman over failures in the way it has dealt with COVID-19. The union considers that the Authority which is responsible for reducing workplace risks and improving the work environment, has failed to properly address issues concerning recommendations on the level provision of personal protective equipment, consulting only with the SKR municipal employers' organisation and not listening to the views of Kommunal or other trade unions. Kommunal also believes that the Authority breached its mandate by deleting an expert opinion on the level of provision of PPE, so violating freedom of information regulations.
May. 05, 2020 The three main trade union confederations - CGIL, CSIL and UIL - have criticised the government for failing to deliver on the additional resources and support needed for health workers as the country prepares to ease lockdown measures. The unions argue that key provisions in the "Care Italy" act have not been implemented leaving health workers still working long shifts, trying to cope with inadequate hospital capacity and all of this without adequate equipment or proper safety protocols - problems that have persisted for three months. The confederations also raise concerns about the pay and allowances of health workers to cover the mounting overtime and risks associated with dealing with such an infectious disease.
May. 05, 2020 The vida and GPA-djp private services unions have called on the government to take a national approach to regulations on childcare as institutions try to get to grips with rules on safety that vary across the country. The unions are concerned that proper measures are in place to protect workers and children but they have had reports of regional authorities applying different rules on face masks as well as recommending different staff:children ratios. In the meantime, the two unions are also pushing for a new collective agreement covering around 15000 health and care staff at the non-profit provide Caritas. There has been no result after five rounds of negotiations where the unions are hoping to secure a real pay increase and shorter working time in line with the main agreement covering private health and social care.
May. 07, 2020 The OSZSP health union and doctors' union have called on the minister of health to ensure that bonus payments for working with COVID-19 patients are paid to all relevant staff across the health and social care sectors. The payments were agreed and confirmed by the minister of labour but the health minister has only contacted directly-managed teaching hospitals and a small number of other facilities to pay the allowance which ranges from 100 (3,70 EUR) to 500 (18,50 EUR) and up to 1500 CZK (EUR 55,30) an hour. The unions underline that all staff on the frontline should benefit whether professional or non-professional.
May. 08, 2020 The Welsh government has said that all care workers will get a £500 (EUR 570) bonus in recognition of the work they have been doing during the COVID-19 crisis. Trade unions have welcomed the payment which will go to all carers whether employed by local authorities, non-profit providers or private companies. Meanwhile, local government employers have said that a 2.75% pay rise is their final offer but that they will approach central government for more funding for next year. The largest local government union, UNISON, wants a joint approach to central government and will only consult members on the 2.75% offer once it is fully informed about the employers’ funding demands for next year. Non-uniformed police staff are also in negotiations and the main claims is for an increase of 6.5% or £1200 (EUR 1370) a year, whichever is higher.
May. 08, 2020 Unions representing public service workers have made clear that they do not accept the government’s proposal to suspend this year’s pay increases, along with Christmas and other bonuses. Two pay increases are due to be paid this year, both of 2% in June and October. EPSU issued a statement supporting the unions’ position and criticising the government for pushing for a pay freeze for workers on the frontline of the fight against the pandemic.
May. 08, 2020 Trade unions have strongly criticised the health minister for publishing two Royal decrees affecting health workers. The first would allow non-nursing staff to carry out some nursing duties. Unions say there are no details on how this would work in practice. The second provides powers to requisition health staff to work. The unions argue that this comes at a time when the infection rate is beginning to fall but more importantly was not even needed at the height of the crisis when health workers were doing all they could do fight the pandemic. The unions say that the decrees have been imposed without proper consultation and in the fact of strong opposition and that they risk to generate a wave of discontent and protest among health workers.
May. 08, 2020 Global trade union federations have welcomed the initiative of the ENGIE energy multinational to commit to cover any hospitalisation and death-related costs arising from the COVID-19 virus for any of its 170000 employees around the world. The company is bringing forward implementation of a new CARE programme for employees that would provide help with such costs but, in the period up to 31 December 2020, is boosting this by providing full coverage of hospitalization costs related to COVID-19 and for employees temporarily without social protection providing all-cause death cover and reimbursement of hospital costs related to the disease.
May. 08, 2020 The SSM trade union federation has successfully negotiated a reversal of government plans to suspend the payment of allowances to public service workers during April and May. The plan was part of COVID-19 emergency measures and would have applied to a wide range of payments related to length of service, night work, annual and other leave, retirement and severance. The federation welcomed the change, underlining how social dialogue can work even in emergency situations.
May. 08, 2020 Public service union PASYDY is to pursue a legal case on pay and pensions cuts during austerity to the European Court of Human Rights. The union has expressed disappointment with a ruling of the country's Supreme Court that the government was within its powers to cut pay and pensions in the period 2011-13 as part of austerity measures following the financial and economic crisis. PASYDY also raises questions about the conduct of the case which has dragged on for nearly eight years and the fact that the judgement appears to be in conflict with other rulings in relation to judges and pensioners.
May. 08, 2020 The ETUC has published a first COVID-19 Watch briefing on social dialogue across Europe. Covering 20 countries, the briefing indicates that in most countries trade unions have been involved in various degrees in consultation and negotiation over emergency measures. This includes Spain and Italy, two of the countries worst hit by the pandemic. In France, the situation is more mixed with some limitation on trade union involvement in discussing key measures. More worrying have been the developments in Croatia, Hungary and Poland. While the Croatian withdrew plans to limit trade union and employment rights, emergency legislation in Hungary and Poland allows for major restrictions on social dialogue and trade union rights.
May. 08, 2020 Health trade unions have issued a joint statement reiterating their serious concerns about the failures in provision of safety equipment and testing for health workers who have been struggling to maintain services despite the risks they have been facing. The unions also warn that the situation with protective equipment and tests needs to be resolved before any major moves to de-confinement otherwise there would be a major risk of a second wave of infection. The joint statement contains a reaffirmation of the key demands of the unions that they have been campaigning around over the last two years including, revaluation of pay and jobs; increased funding; more training and increased recruitment; a stop on closure of facilities and guarantee of access to services for all.