2020 EPSU Collective Bargaining News September no.17
IN THIS ISSUE
- Germany: Negotiations get off to disappointing start
- Italy: National strike next step in unions' private health dispute
- Netherlands: Union survey exposes care workers' concerns over pay and safety
- Austria: Union calls for public-sector wide pay rise
- Norway: Unions aim for more full-time work in local government negotiations
- UK: Unions call for pay rises for health workers
- Ireland: Call for living wage and sick pay for childcare workers
- Europe: ETUC affiliates back call for directive on minimum wages
- Denmark: Union consults in advance of negotiations
- Germany France UK: Crisis rekindles working time debate
- North Macedonia: Federation secures key pension changes
- Cyprus: Union takes strike action over government safety failures
Sep. 09, 2020 Public services union ver.di reports that the first exchange with employers in the negotiations covering 2.3 million federal and municipal workers was a disappointment. The union has set out a series of key demands with the main one being a 4.8% pay rise with a minimum increase of EUR 150 a month. While the employers responded with some positive words about the efforts of public service workers during the pandemic they didn't come up with a pay offer. In fact, they underlined the challenges facing public finances and called for a long-term deal rather than the 12-month agreement demanded by ver.di. The union has launched a photo petition to support the negotiations, the next round of which takes place on 19-20 September.
Sep. 09, 2020 The Fp Cgil, Cisl Fp and Uil Fpl public service federations have called a national strike in private health care for 16 September. This is the latest step in their campaign to put pressure on the Aiop and Aris employer organisations to sign the sector agreement that was initially agreed on 10 June after three years of negotiations. Despite endorsements from the Ministry of Health and the regional authorities that play a key role in funding the sector, the employers refused to ratify the agreement saying there were not enough guarantees. The strike follows action on 31 August when the unions organised demonstrations outside the employers' head offices.
Sep. 09, 2020 A survey of 1600 care workers by the FNV trade union has revealed disturbing levels of concern about safety, overwork and low pay. Some 70% of workers feel unsafe because government measures to tackle the pandemic are not properly enforced and only 25% say they have adequate personal protective equipment for a second wave. Three in four say they have a high or very high workload and 90% feel they are not appreciated by government or politicians. Seven in 10 want a structural pay increase and not a corona bonus payment. They say this is essential to make the sector more protective and address the 80000 vacancies that have occurred over the last two years. This situation is set to worsen as one in four health workers are thinking of quitting. The survey was published as part of the FNV's week of campaigning on health and social care and the impact of the pandemic.
Sep. 09, 2020 In anticipation of annual pay negotiations, the GÖD public service union has written to the government calling for sustained, real increases in pay and allowances for all public sector workers. The union argues that public employees have faced increasingly difficult working conditions as they have responded to the pandemic and its knock-on effects on employment and the economy by maintaining quality public services. The union points out the importance of public services to support Austria as a successful international economy and that a pay rise for the public sector would make an important contribution to domestic demand and economic recovery. The current pay agreement runs until the end of December this year and the GÖD wants a prompt start to the negotiations to ensure that pay increases apply from 1 January 2021.
Sep. 10, 2020 Negotiations are underway in local government and while unions are aiming for a real pay increase they are also setting their sights on improvements in other working conditions. They want more investment in competence development and training during working time. However, a key demand is for more full-time work. Around two thirds of health and social care workers and 40% of those in childcare and education work part-time. Unions argue that this does not make the sector attractive and that full-time hours are needed to deliver decent pay. They also point to the benefits to the quality of services and health and safety and particularly in the current situation the increase in infection control that would come from fewer shift changes.
Sep. 10, 2020 Public services union UNISON has called for a £2000 a year pay rise for all health workers in recognition of their continuing work and commitment in the fight against COVID-19. The union underlines the importance of giving health workers a boost before the end of the year particularly as the virus is in resurgence. The RCN nursing union has called for a 12.5% increase for nursing staff in an important step to help address the staffing crisis, in recognition of their skills and to compensate for cost of living increases. The GMB general union, meanwhile, is calling for a 15% pay increase again to restore purchasing power and help reduce the estimated 100000 vacancies across healthcare.
Sep. 10, 2020 The SIPTU union has called on the government to set a budget that includes a guaranteed living wage for all childcare workers along with a sick pay scheme. The living wage is €12.30 an hour while the average wage in the sector is €11.46 and the union argues that higher pay will be important in reducing the 40% staff turnover among childcare workers. SIPTU also points out that 79% of childcare workers don't have a sick pay scheme and this is inhibiting the sector's response to ensuring safe workplaces for both workers and children.
Sep. 10, 2020 ETUC Executive Committee members have voted by a large majority in support of the Confederation's submission to the European Commission's second stage consultation on fair minimum wages. In the submission, the ETUC calls for a directive that sets a minimum level for national minimum wages across Europe and introduces measures to strengthen and promote collective bargaining. The document also underlines the importance of not introducing any provisions that might undermine industrial relations systems where collective bargaining is strong and where social partners do not support the introduction of legal minimum wages. The vote was 85% in favour. The vote in the EPSU Executive Committee was also over 80% with 39 votes in favour, eight against and no abstentions. The ETUC has also released data showing how EU countries with the lowest levels of collective bargaining have the lowest pay levels.
Sep. 11, 2020 The HK Kommunal local government union is consulting members for their proposals on what should be included in the upcoming public sector negotiations. Normally the union organises workplace visits across the country, but this year there an online survey because of the continuing impact of COVID-19. HK Kommunal underlines the importance of the consultation and being able to present a series of demands that have wide support across the membership. There had been some discussion about postponing negotiations and extending agreements for a year but this is not confirmed and so consultations continue and negotiations are likely to start early in 2021 with current agreements due to expire in March.
Sep. 11, 2020 The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the widespread use of short-time working in response has rekindled the debate about permanent shifts to shorter working hours. Germany's biggest engineering union, IG Metall, has put forward ideas about a move to a 32-hour week and this had been taken up by the CGT trade union confederation in France which has had a 32-hour-week policy for some time. In the UK, the Autonomy research organisation has proposed and costed a plan for the public sector to take the lead and move to a 32-hour week without loss of pay.
Sep. 11, 2020 The SSM trade union federation has secured key changes to pension provision in draft legislation. The changes affect the number of years of contributions to get a pension, different retirement rules depending on the nature of work in different sectors, the possibility of early retirement from 60, the possibility for workers to make additional payments to improve their entitlement and extra years credited for workers in arduous occupations like construction.
Sep. 11, 2020 The KTAMS civil service union is taking widespread industrial action (excluding hospitals) over the government's failure to ensure safety in workplaces in response to the continuing threat of the COVID-19 virus. The union action began on 10 September but continued as the government didn't respond to the union's demands.