May. 14, 2019 A strike by around 650 care workers, employees of the private company, Alternative Futures Group (AFG), has forced the employer to the negotiating table after management initially refused to negotiate with public service union Unison. The workers took strike action in protest at the company's decision to cut the allowance for sleepover shifts. This means cuts of up to GBP 2000 (EUR 2300) a year for some workers. Talks between Unison and the Liverpool-based AFG were due to start on 17 May. Meanwhile cleaners at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow in Essex to the East of London have voted overwhelmingly to strike in protest at plans to outsource the service.
Feb. 28, 2019 A new analysis from the research organisation, the Living Wage Foundation, shows that over one million public service workers are paid less than the living wage - GBP 9.00 (EUR 10.50) an hour outside London and GBP 10.55 (EUR 12.30) in London. These figures are calculated by independent researchers and are higher than the official minimum wage. Public service union UNISON says that recent pay deals in health and local government have lifted minimum wage rates in collective agreements above the living wage but many workers employed by private contractors in care, catering and cleaning and other services are on lower rates. UNISON members at Liverpool's Women's Hospital took strike action on 25 February to secure higher pay while other contractors in the health service have committed to increase rates. Members of PCS working for contractors at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have also been on strike for higher pay.
Feb. 14, 2019 The Fagforbundet public service union is continuing to pursue legal action against the Aleris care company which it believes has major implications for labour rights in Norway. The company is being challenged over using self-employed workers that it calls "consultants" rather than directly employing care staff. The "consultants" have no employment rights and have been forced to work long hours of overtime, including up to 72 hours without a break, for fear of being denied work. They have no sickness or pension benefit or protection against dismissal. Aleris Care is now part of the Ambea group of companies which has renamed the operations Stendi.
Jan. 04, 2019 Trade unions representing workers in the electricity, gas and water sectors organised a day of strike action on 17 December. The unions are concerned that changes to procurement rules will lead to more outsourcing and so threaten jobs, pay and conditions and the quality of services. Meanwhile, unions organising in the private health sector began a series of regional actions with a strike in Lazio on 14 December as part of a campaign to secure a new sector agreement covering 150000 workers. It is 12 years since the last agreement was negotiated.
Jan. 03, 2019 The Oslo District Court has rejected the attempt by the Aleris multinational care company to use European law to prevent workers claiming their rightful status as employees. Thirty-seven workers, supported by the Fagforbundet trade union, have launched legal proceedings against the company which has denied them employment rights by classifying them as consultants rather than employees (see epsucob@NEWS 16 and 17, 2018). The trade union accuses the company of trying to intimidate individual workers and employing teams of highly-paid lawyers to try to block their claims in the court. A case involving 24 of the 37 workers will be heard in the Oslo District Court on 14 January.
Dec. 03, 2018 It has taken three and a half years and legal action by the FOA public service union to ensure that care workers finally get the money they owed from their employer, Kaerkommen, which went bust in 2015. The 77 workers were owed around DK 12 million (EUR 1.6m) in pay and holiday allowance but the public authorities - municipalities on the one-hand and the wage guarantee fund on the other - refused to take responsibility for the compensation. The court ruled that the wage guarantee fund should pay up and the employment minister has now drafted new legislation to cover such cases and ensure that in future workers don't lose out.
Nov. 23, 2018 On 20 November the government announced compulsory arbitration to end a dispute between the NSF nurses' union and the NHO private employers' organisation. The union had called a strategic strike of 55 nurses on 25 October to protest against the NHO agreement having lower minimum pay and sickness benefit rates compared to the agreement negotiated with municipal employers. NSF has found examples of nurses' annual salaries in NHO employers that are NOK 30000-100000 (EUR 3200-10000) lower than in the public sector. After three weeks of strike action the NHO imposed a lockout on all 501 NSF members in NHO organisations prompting the government to intervene on the basis that the lockout posed a threat to patients' health.
Nov. 02, 2018 The four main public service unions - FP-CGIL, CISL-FP, UIL-PA and UIL-FPL - have together launched a major campaign and petition calling for action to improve public services and deliver better employment conditions. The four unions have drawn up a document with 11 key proposals that cover calls for increased public investment; substantial recruitment of new workers and improved training provision; better union representation; finalising outstanding collective agreements for the 2016-2018 period and ensuring resources for the next round of agreements for 2019-21; bringing back privatised services in-house and increased funding for the health service.
Nov. 02, 2018 The Fagforbundet public service union has revealed figures showing that care workers in the private sector in Oslo are between EUR 7000 and EUR 8700 worse off than those in the public sector. A starting salary for a graduate care worker in the public sector is NOK 367000 (EUR 38500), NOK 84000 more than the same worker in the private sector. Those on minimum wages in the sector are EUR 7000 better off if employed by the municipality. Fagforbundet also says that private sector workers are more likely to face heavier workloads as a result of understaffing. Fourteen of the 40 care homes in Oslo are currently run by the private sector although the municipality has plans to gradually bring them back under public management.
Oct. 10, 2018 On 3 October unions in the DISK and KESK confederations organised a half-day work stoppage in the city of Izmir in western Turkey. The strike called for the reinstatement of workers who have been arbitrarily dismissed by the government in its continuing indiscriminate actions following the attempted coup in 2016. The unions also called for an increase in the minimum wage and for municipal workers to be treated the same as civil servants in relation to the government's recent legislation to end outsourcing.
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. 16, 2018 A planned three-day strike by UNISON members at the Mid Yorkshire National Health Service (NHS) Hospitals Trust has been called off after the trust’s management lifted the threat of creating a wholly-owned subsidiary. In line with other NHS bodies around the country, the trust had intended to set up the company and transfer the contracts of cleaners, maintenance workers, IT and canteen staff to it. The subsidiary would have made it possible to put staff on non-NHS terms and conditions and to make it easier for it to be sold to a private company. UNISON is campaigning around the country to block these kinds of initiatives.
Jul. 10, 2018 An update of a survey by the Kommunal municipal workers' union has revealed differences between private and public eldercare in terms of pay and conditions. On average a full-time municipal worker in eldercare is paid SEK 2300 (EUR 225) more a month than their private counterpart. Private sector workers are also more likely to work part time (72%) and on fixed-term contracts (37%) than municipal workers (61% and 27% respectively). A survey of members also found that private sector workers feel less satisfied with the job and less motivated than municipal workers and while both sets of workers often work unpaid extra hours, this is a much bigger problem among private sector workers.
Apr. 20, 2018 Public services union Unison has criticised NHS Trusts - the local bodies that run health services - for creating a two-tier workforce by setting up wholly-owned subsidiaries to which they transfer staff and which are then used to reduce pay and pensions and other working conditions. Not only is the union strongly opposed to this initiative - which mainly affects lower paid workers such as porters and cleaners - but it has also exposed how some NHS Trusts have spent millions on consultants to advise them on the process.
Jan. 10, 2018 The government has passed a decree that effectively ends outsourcing in central and local government. Outsourced workers in central government will be directly employed by the central government institutions while those in local authorities will be transferred to local authority-owned companies, rather than directly to the local authorities. The changes have been welcomed by trade unions although some have expressed concern about the difference in rights and pay and conditions for those in local authority companies and about the fact that the changes were implemented by decree with no consultation with the unions.