2018 August epsucob@NEWS 17
IN THIS ISSUE
- Germany: Union hopes mediation will deliver agreement on workloads
- France: Impact of pay freezes on public sector pay
- Norway: More workers take action against care company
- Austria: Union wants to see early negotiations and a pay rise for all public sector workers
- Europe: Trade union rep gets reinstated at Patent Office
- Netherlands: Health and youth care workers take action
- UK: Home care workers strike over threat to jobs and hours
- Italy: Health unions call for urgent action on medical staffing
- Latvia: Health union tackles ambulance restructuring problems
- Czech Republic: Health union issues strike alert
- Greece: Union confederation plans anti-austerity rally on 8 September
- Sweden: Union celebrates success in influencing pre-school curriculum
- Ukraine: Unions resist attacks on rights and attempts to seize property
Aug. 29, 2018 Health union ver.di has suspended its strike action in university hospitals in Düsseldorf and Essen to allow mediators to help resolve the conflict over workloads and staffing (see previous three issues of epsucob@NEWS). It agreed to the initiative following the intervention of the labour minister of the North Rhine Westfalia region. Earlier in the year ver.di was successful in negotiating a key agreement on staffing and workloads covering hospitals in Freiburg, Heidelburg, Tübingen and Ulm in the Baden-Württemburg region. The agreement set out a procedure for determining staffing levels in different sections and what should be done when staff numbers fell below the agreed quota. It also committed the institutions to create 120 full-time posts between them and established certain basic rules including a minimum of two workers per night shift one of whom should have at least three years' training.
Aug. 30, 2018 A series of pay freezes have seen civil servants' salaries eroded by inflation since 2010. Pay is based on an index figure which was frozen between 2010 and 2016 and increased by only 0.6% in both 2016 and 2017 but frozen again this year. This means a loss of purchasing power of 6.79%. This translates into a monthly loss of pay of anything between EUR 117 and EUR 404 a month depending on the job. Increases in pensions contributions have meant a further cut in take-home pay. This is a longer term problem for civil servants as increases in the index point fell behind inflation in the period 2000 to 2010, meaning that the total loss of purchasing power over the past 18 years is 16.5%.
Aug. 30, 2018 More workers have come forward to join legal action against the Aleris care company following revelations about employment and working conditions made earlier this month (see epsucob@NEWS 16). Public service union Fagforbundet says that the company is avoiding its social, employment and tax obligations by taking workers on as self-employed "consultants" rather than employees. The union has taken this up with the authorities and a further eight workers have joined the 17 who were already involved in legal action. Some of these workers have been summarily dismissed or are given excessive hours or shifts that are impossible to cover. Revelations from one worker even accuse the company of putting him under pressure to get drugs for residents.
Aug. 30, 2018 The head of the younion public services union, Christian Meidlinger, representing workers in local and regional authorities, has written to the Vice-Chancellor and Minister for Public Services calling for the annual public sector pay negotiations to start as soon as possible. Noting the good performance of Austrian public services in international comparisons, Meidlinger argues that the work of public service workers should be recognised, particularly where they have managed to maintain services while facing pressure from staffing shortages. He has also underlined the need for a pay rise covering the whole of the public sector. Meidlinger concedes that recent negotiations have allowed for some local variation in pay systems but that it is important that the annual pay negotiations deliver an increase for all public service workers.
Aug. 30, 2018 There has been some improvement in industrial relations at the European Patent Office (EPO). As we reported in 2016 (November epsucob@NEWS 15) there had been considerable conflict in the organisation with several trade union representatives dismissed and who took up cases through the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The chair of the EPO union in Munich, Ion Brumme resumed his job in the middle of August, two and a half years after his dismissal. Both he and another colleague were cleared by an ILO tribunal. Brumme has urged the new EPO president to restore relations with the SUEPO trade union. Other dismissed reps, including Laurent Prunier from the office in The Hague are still waiting for their cases to come before the ILO tribunal.
Aug. 30, 2018 Workers at University Medical Centres (UMC) are involved in a series of actions to push for a new collective agreement, including a 3.5% pay increase and measures to reduce excessive workloads. Negotiations have been stalled since the end of May and members of the FNV and NU'91 unions have organised demonstrations and worked-to-rule to underline the strength of feeling to employers. The UMC agreement covers 60000 workers. Meanwhile, youth care workers have also been active over excessive workloads and outsourcing. Around 2500 youth care workers are expected for a national demonstration on 3 September. The workers, members of the FNV, are calling for an extra EUR 750 million for the sector - EUR 450m to compensate for previous cuts and EUR 300 million to deal with increased demand. Youth care workers say it is increasingly difficult to deliver a proper service to young people and their families.
Aug. 30, 2018 Home care workers employed by Birmingham council in central England have been taking strike action and organising protests in the city against plans to cut hours and jobs. In the latest development, the council has said that full-time workers must reduce their hours. If they don't move to part-time work they will either have to take another job in the council or redundancy. This is a long-running dispute which has seen the workers take 17 days of strike action over several months (see February epsucob@NEWS 03).
Aug. 31, 2018 The three main unions representing health workers - FP-CGIL, CISL-FP and UIL-FPL - have issued a joint call demanding urgent action to tackle doctor shortages across the health service. The three federations are particularly concerned about precarious employment, the need for more specialists and for a recruitment plan for doctors to be put in place as soon as possible. They made their case at a meeting with the Ministry of Health on 30 August where they highlighted the impact of austerity and recruitment freezes which have impacted emergency services above all. The unions have warned for many years about the impact of doctor shortages and want to see a boost to recruitment of permanent staff and increases to both specialist and general medical training.
Aug. 31, 2018 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.
Aug. 31, 2018 The OSZSP health and social care union issued a strike alert on 17 August following lack of progress in negotiations on wage and salary increases and the failure of the Ministry of Health to fulfil earlier promises. The union believes action on pay is essential in order to ensure recruitment to the health service and the effective functioning of hospitals. OSZSP argues that the staffing crisis threatens the extent and quality of the care provided, particularly in some smaller hospitals. The union will coordinate the next steps with the Medical Trade Union - the Association of Czech Physicians, as well as with other Trade Unions.
Aug. 31, 2018 The ADEDY civil service confederation is planning an anti-austerity protest on 8 September in Thessaloniki to coincide with the city's international fair which will be opened by prime minister, Alexis Tsipras. The confederation aims to highlight the fact that workers and pensioners continue to suffer the impact of deep austerity measures despite the country exiting the bailout programme. With economic output having fallen by 25%, unemployment still over 20% and massive staff shortages in key public services, particularly healthcare, ADEDY argues that austerity continues to bite. The confederation will highlight a range of key measures it is calling for including increases to wages and pensions, increased recruitment to health and other public services and a restoration of union and bargaining rights.
Aug. 31, 2018 The Kommunal municipal workers' union is celebrating a successful mobilisation of workers to secure changes to the pre-school curriculum. The first draft of the curriculum had nothing to say about the role of childcare workers and so Kommunal used its influence on the ministry of education while its members ensured that childcare workers were the biggest group providing input into the curriculum consultation. The revised curriculum now acknowledges the key role of childcare workers and is seen by the union as an important step in furthering the professional status of the occupation.
Aug. 31, 2018 Trade unions across the country are working together to resist state interference in trade union affairs and attempts to take over trade union property including offices and training centres. The latest incident occurred in the Zarpattia region in the west of the country where trade union activists from different sectors gathered at the entrance to the offices of the regional trade union council to physically resist attempts to take over the building by the authorities.