Respect for trade union rights, collective bargaining and social dialogue part of our democratic values – say North East European constituency unions
The EPSU affiliates of North East Europe expressed their concerns about developments in the region in the online meeting of the North East European constituency on 3 March. They received information about the situation in Armenia, Belarus, Georgia and Ukraine.
The LVSADA health union is extremely concerned that the state budget for 2019 will not include promised funding to cover pay increases for health workers. The union has called for rises of around 20% as an essential step to try to stem the loss of workers to other sectors or to other countries. LVSADA believes that the outgoing government made the promise as an election ploy and is now saying it has no responsibility for the budget. Following elections in October negotiations are underway to form a new government.
EPSU affiliate LAKRS organised a picket of the ministry of transport on 4 October calling for better pay and conditions and a collective agreement covering bus workers. The union wants to see a minimum wage of EUR 7 an hour for drivers and action to tackle the widespread problem of long working hours.
The LVSADA health union has managed to negotiate an agreement to tackle problems arising from a restructuring of the ambulance service. A reduction of night shifts meant an increase in waiting times particularly in the Latgale, Vidzeme and Zemgale regions, creating problems for staff and difficulties for patients. The union formally announced a dispute with the ambulance service management, highlighting the constitutional commitment to emergency medical care as a human right. However, it was possible to resolve the situation before the union took any action.
The changes to the labour codes, reform of social protection and health systems and the experience with privatization were some of the issues addressed by the union leaders of the constituency.
An analysis by the European Trade Union Institute shows that wage convergence between East and West in Europe was steady up until 2008. However, since then the trend has either stalled or gone into reverse. Taking national average pay as a percentage of the average across the pre-2004 EU15, Croatia and Hungary show the largest increase in the pay gap since 2008. There were also increases in Slovenia, Czech Republic, Poland and Romania.Most progress was made in Bulgaria but from a very low level (11.8%) to 17.7%, still less than a fifth of average pay in the West.
(July 2017) The LVSADA health union is taking a month-long action throughout July with members working only to normal hours (168 per month). The union wants to highlight the severe shortage of staff in the sector and the need to increase pay to recruit more workers. Meanwhile, he Association of General Practitoners is taking strike action as part of a campaign to secure a pay rise.