Collective Bargaining, Childcare
Collective bargaining – trends and developments
Collective bargaining is a core activity of trade unions and EPSU’s affiliates negotiate with public service employers at every level. This can range from national public-sector wide bargaining to sector and local negotiations with public sector employers but also private and non-profit providers of public services. EPSU works with the European Trade Union Confederation to try to improve collective bargaining rights for all workers across Europe. We also act as a European information point so that EPSU affiliates are aware of trends in public service negotiations. EPSU’s collective bargaining newsletter provides regular updates on developments across Europe and this briefing gives an overview of the state of play in the main agreements in each country.
A new agreement between unions, employers and the Flemish government has delivered a range of benefits for workers in various health and social services in the non-profit sector. Overall, there will be the equivalent of 3,716 new posts to help tackle high workloads. There will be a general 1.7% increase in wages but with some additional increases for those on the lowest pay rates and those will long service. In elderly care, the rehabilitation sector, psychiatric care homes and sheltered living initiatives, there will be a new pay structure from 1 July 2021, bringing pay rates in alignment
Trade unions in the childcare sector organised a day of action on 30 March in protest at government proposals that they say would lead to a deterioration in service quality and working conditions. The unions are concerned about the prospect of an increase in staff/children ratios and failure to address issues related to skills, pay and career development. Meanwhile, in the latest stage of their campaign against the restructuring of the energy sector, the four trade unions – FNME-CGT, CFE-CGC Énergies, FO Énergie et Mines and FCE-CFDT – have called for a day of strike action and protests on 8
The CSC/ACV and FGTB/ABVV trade union confederations are planning a day of protests and strikes on 29 March to push their claims in the stalled negotiations over the biennial agreement for the private sector. This follows two days of action in February in support of the unions’ demands to increase what they say is an unacceptable 0.4% margin for negotiations over and above what’s provided by indexation. The confederations are also calling for a higher minimum wage, action on careers and retirement and a review of the legislation that regulates pay negotiations in the private sector. The CGSLB
The government has put forward a proposal to set up a joint labour committee (JLC) that would determine minimum pay and working conditions for the childcare sector. Currently there is no sector bargaining covering childcare workers and unions have been campaigning for years to tackle low pay and precarious employment. JLCs are independent bodies that exist in sectors like security and cleaning where there is no sector bargaining. They issue employment regulation orders (ERO) setting minimum pay rates and conditions. SIPTU says that a JLC would provide an opportunity for the union and the IBEC
Trade unions have told the government that they reject any plans to end the single pay system across the public sector and strongly oppose any unilateral changes to pay or the creation of jobs and pay rates outside of the collective agreement. In response to government calls for more flexibility, the unions argue that there is already the potential for variable remuneration and adjustments to pay for specific jobs and occupations within the current system, but they are not used. The unions are also concerned that the government wants to treat certain public services differently and see this as
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 biennial cross-sector negotiations remain in stalemate with the employers refusing to budge on the 0.4% margin for negotiations. The confederations are arguing strongly that this is unacceptable and fails to recognise the differential impact of the pandemic across the economy and the need to acknowledge the additional risks faced by workers in dealing with the virus. A number of work stoppages and rallies took place across the country on 25 February to put pressure on the employers to come up with an improved offer.
Services union ver.di and the BVAP social care employers’ organisation have signed a collective agreement for the first time covering eldercare. The agreement will set minimum standards for the sector with a 25% increase over three years taking minimum pay for trained nurses to EUR 3180 a month. There will be minimum pay rates for nursing assistants, those with one year’s training and qualified nurses beginning at EUR 12.30, EUR 13.10 and EUR 16.10 an hour respectively from 1 August 2021. This will then rise in three further stages on 1 January 2022, 1 January 2023 and 1 June 2023 to reach EUR
The three main trade union confederations have jointly refused to continue negotiations over the next two-year pay deal for the private sector. They argue that the pay formula that guides the negotiations leaves only 0.4% as a basis for salary increases. The unions point out that this would mean only a EUR 6.00 gross increase on the minimum wage and just EUR 9.00 for many jobs deemed to be essential during the pandemic. The unions say that the formula, set in 1996 and revised in 2017, is inappropriate for the current situation and fails to take account of the economic impact of the virus.
The SIPTU trade union has just published findings from a survey of early years professionals showing that 43% of childcare workers are actively seeking another job due to low pay levels in the sector. The findings also show that 90% of workers struggle to make ends meet, 77% have no work sick pay scheme and just 10% receive paid maternity leave from their employer. More than seven in 10 workers have found dealing with COVID stressful while just over nine in 10 would consider leaving the profession in the next five years if there are no improvements in pay and conditions.