Jul. 31, 2020 This newsletter aims to report on the latest news about public service collective bargaining. Articles are stored on the EPSU website and can be searched by country and theme here. However, it is going to be particularly important to follow the latest developments as EPSU affiliates negotiate on pay in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. EPSU has therefore put together a country-by-country overview that gives the state of play of bargaining in each country. It will be updated at least once a month and information on more countries and sectors will be added. The link to the article is below but also at the end of the introductory paragraph in the collective bargaining section of the EPSU website - here.
Jul. 29, 2020 Following a letter from the FPSU trade union confederation, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association has written to the President to raise serious concerns about the latest developments in labour law reform. The original government proposals from December 2019 were widely attacked by the Ukrainian and international labour movements. However, recent amendments haven't dealt with many of the trade union concerns. These include among other issues: arbitrarily reducing the number of workplace unions; denying managerial staff the right to form or join a unions; setting a minimum membership threshold which undermines workers' rights to form or join unions of their choice; and creating a new trade union supervisory body with wide and unchecked powers. The Special Rapporteur also highlights the failure of the government to properly consult with trade unions throughout the legislative process. Similar issues have been raised in letters to the President and government from the international Human Rights Watch organisation. Meanwhile the health workers’ union continues to assert its right to take industrial action with all key workers at health facilities in the city of Smila, south of Kyiv, taking part in an indefinite protest against non-payment of wages. On 29 July full health services were provided for only an hour and just emergency services for the rest of the day.
Jul. 28, 2020 National trade union confederations are keeping the ETUC up-to-date with what trade unions and labour inspectorates are doing to ensure safety at the workplace in response to COVID-19 and, in particular, in relation to the return to work. In Austria, 20% of inspected workplaces have been told to improve their safety procedures while the Danish FH confederation reports some problems in private clinics and healthcare and it has taken action to ensure that health and social care facilities are fully part of the inspection regime. In Ireland more inspectors have been taken on to cope with increased demands while in Sweden and the UK unions have been involved in walkouts when faced with workplaces that don't meet the new safety standards. The other confederations reporting to the ETUC so far are ZSSS in Slovenia and the UGT in Spain. The information is being regularly updated.
Jul. 28, 2020 Data from the Wage Indicator pay database covering five countries reveals that many of the key workers who have been on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19 are on below)average wages. The research looked at nine jobs in childcare, call centres, retail, nursing, admin, logistics, warehouses and transport in the UK, German, Netherlands, France and Sweden. In the UK all occupations fell below the national average wage while in Germany it was all but one and in the Netherlands all but two. The situation for these workers was better in France and Sweden.
Jul. 28, 2020 EPSU has just published new factsheets on the right to strike in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia taking the total number of countries covered in this series to 41. This follows the addition of factsheets on Moldova, Russia and Ukraine earlier this year. Each factsheet sets out the main legal provisions and highlights any recent cases taken to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and/or the European Social Committee (ESC) of the Council of Europe. Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia have all been the subject of ILO and ESC cases. The ESC has ruled that all three are not in conformity with the Article 6.4 of the European Social Charter because of the restrictions imposed on the right to strike in the public sector.
Jul. 28, 2020 The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is recommending that governments should aim to increase the collective bargaining coverage rate among women in non-standard jobs as a way to close the gender pay gap. The report says that collective bargaining can be effective through targeted raises compensating for the concentration of women in low-paid industries; by establishing gender-neutral occupational classification schemes to correct the undervaluation of female-dominated occupations; measures promoting pay transparency; and gender-neutral evaluation criteria for career progress. The report has been welcomed by the ETUC which sees it as influential support for its call on the Commission to support collective bargaining, alongside binding gender pay transparency measures, as the best way to end the gender pay gap.
Jul. 28, 2020 A new report on employment security commissioned by the Kommunal municipal services union reveals the extent of temporary and part-time work in health, social care and education. The survey found just under 240,000 workers in these sectors were on fixed-term contracts with 58% of these on the most precarious terms and conditions. Most of these workers want a permanent job. Workers in companies with fewer than 10 employees have weaker employment security and there are 10550 companies in this category operating in health and social care. While 18% of workers in public health and social care are on temporary contracts this rises to 24% in private companies. Overall part-time and fixed-term work are twice as common in health, social care and education as in the economy as a whole.
Jul. 27, 2020 After negotiations dating back to November 2018 the public and private sector health and care unions (younion, GÖD, GPA-djp and vida) have secured a €34 million package of improvements to the pay and conditions of workers in the Upper Austria region. As of 1 February 2021 qualified nurses, midwives and clinical social workers will get pay rises ranging from €97 to €194 a month. Improvements to other conditions include a second night shift in care homes with more than 60 beds, additional support staff and the right to full-time work for part-time staff. The measures will be implemented directly in the public sector and will form the basis for future negotiations in the private sector.
Jul. 27, 2020 Around 900000 out of the total of 4.4 million public sector workers will see pay increases this year of between 2% and 3.1%. This is ahead of the current inflation rate of 0.8%. While unions have welcomed the increases they have highlighted the fact that many workers have lost out after 10 years of pay freezes or below-inflation rises. The latest pay increases cover the armed forces, judiciary and senior civil servants (2%), police and prison staff in England and Wales (2.5%), doctors and dentists (2.8%) and teachers in England (3.1%). Health unions have called for early negotiations for the next pay increase which is due in 2021 while most social care workers are excluded as they are employed by private companies. Workers in local government are currently voting on whether to accept a 2.75% increase. Unions fear that the government is already looking for more pay restraint in future negotiations.
Jul. 27, 2020 The FeSP-UGT and FSC-CCOO public service federations continue to push the government to honour key agreements and commitments some of which date back to 2016. Above all the unions want to see the main agreement (IV) covering state administration workers fully implemented, including a new pay structure. The delay since March 2019 means that workers are already owed anything from €670 to over €2100, depending on their grade. The unions are concerned about the government stalling on this and also saying that any pay increase this year is dependent on the budget for 2021. There are other outstanding issues including the drafting and implementing of equality plans and action on recruitment and promotion. The FSC-CCOO has been organising social media campaigns and protests with a demonstration outside the public service ministry set for 30 July.
Jul. 27, 2020 The Fp Cgil, Cisl Fp and Uil Fpl public service federations have finalised a new collective agreement covering around 15000 managers in local and regional government and the health service. The agreement covers the period 2016-2018 and includes a pay rise of 3.48% which follows the other public sector agreements for that period. Apart from pay, there are provisions covering trade union relations, work-life balance and leave arrangements, including support for women who are victims of violence. The agreement also establishes a joint body to look at innovation and service improvement and there is a commitment to start negotiations on an agreement covering 2019-2021. Only one public sector agreement for the 2016-18 period is now outstanding - the one covering employees of the Presidency and Council of Ministers.
Jul. 15, 2020 The national nurses' association is threatening strike action if the government doesn't agree to talks to address serious understaffing and low pay. The union says that there was already a shortfall of 1500 nurses before the COVID-19 pandemic and the situation has seriously deteriorated as the country has been hit by a second wave. Infection of health staff is increasing with around 1000 nurses now in quarantine while those at work are facing increasing workloads, long working houjs and greater stress. The government has promised some additional funding but the union wants to see urgent action taken, including the recruitment of around 1500 recently qualified nurses and measures to address longstanding issues of low pay.
Jul. 15, 2020 The German subsidiary of the Veolia environmental services multinational has agreed to set up a €1 million pandemic fund after negotiations with the ver.di trade union. The fund will be available until the end of 2020 and will provide financial support of up to €10000 to workers who have been affected by COVID-19. The employees who could benefit include workers with children under 12 who can't find childcare, single parents, workers with other care responsibilities and who have been through family bereavements. The company implemented a short-time working agreement and topped up the funding from the government but is aware that some workers, particularly those on the minimum wage for the sector, have been hard hit.
Jul. 13, 2020 Portuguese health workers are the latest to get a bonus (50% of basic pay) for their work in working in the emergency situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Netherlands all care workers get €1000 while in Germany so far it has only been workers in eldercare who get a €1500 payment. In Belgium, some health workers are getting €300 while workers in private health and social care in Austria received €500, the same as frontline staff in Bulgaria. In the UK all care workers in Wales have received a payment of €570. In contrast to these lump sums, the COVID-19 payments for health staff in the Czech Republic are additional payments per hours ranging from €3.70, to €18.50 and €55.30 depending on their level of exposure to risk. In Sweden, an agreement on emergency work was already in place before COVID-19 hit and this meant that health workers could get additional payments of 120% of their hourly rate, rising to 150% for overtime hours.
Jul. 13, 2020 Health and social care unions have reacted differently to the government's €7.5 billion package on pay and jobs. The CFDT has welcomed the proposals that it says will mean a €90 net increase a month for most health workers from September with a further €93 increase from March 2021. On top of this a working group will be set up to look at revaluating pay for certain occupations which will be implemented in January 2022. The lowest paid workers in the sector, currently on the minimum wage should see their pay increase by 15%. Around 8000 jobs will be created and 7300 vacancies filled. The FO trade union is supporting the proposal on the basis that it is a first step in the right direction. The CGT is disappointed by the package particularly because it says does not go far enough to address the problem of proper compensation for long working hours with nothing offered in relation to on-call and overtime, nor anything extra for night, weekend and holiday work. The union has called for support for a demonstration already planned for 14 July and warns that further resignations of health staff were likely and will only add to the pressure on services.