Jul. 13, 2020 The main municipal unions in the Nordic region - Fagforbundet (Norway), Kommunal (Sweden), JHL (Finland) and FOA (Denmark) - have called on government and municipal employers to work together with unions to tackle the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. They argue that local and regional authorities need the finance to maintain jobs as well as the pay and condition of the municipal workforce and that these will be crucial to the economic recovery. The unions stress above all that austerity cannot be the answer and that the contribution of municipal workers should be recognised with funding for wage settlements and the services they provide.
Jul. 13, 2020 The FOA trade union has called for urgent action to address training and recruitment in eldercare. It quotes a new report revealing a sharp decline in the numbers of people being trained to work in the sector. It was already forecast that there would be a staffing shortage of around 40000 by 2028 but the figures on training - a decline of 36% in the number of young people on training courses - suggest an even greater shortage. The government has agreed to a request by FOA to convene a summit of politicians, employers and unions to debate how to tackle the problem.
Jul. 01, 2020 The FOA trade union is gearing up for the public sector pay negotiations over a new collective agreement to follow the current agreement that expires in March 2021. There had been some discussion about postponing the negotiations but they will now go ahead with unions expecting tough bargaining conditions. Public sector wage increases are linked to developments in the private sector and so there will be some constraints but unions are determined to secure pay rises for their members and the FOA is stressing again the need to support low paid workers who have been less advantaged by pay increases that are normally set at percentages rather than as flat-rate amounts. The union is hoping that as lock-down restrictions continue to relaxed, union members will be able to meet from the autumn to discuss the main bargaining demands.
Jun. 19, 2020 The FOA trade union has called for regular testing for COVID-19 for care home staff. The union is concerned about a recent article that found over half of homes had no plans for regular testing and the news that 29 infections were found at a nursing home in North Jutland. FOA is proposing that a system of mobile testing be set up so that all staff could be tested quickly and efficiently, particularly if they are to meet the recommendation from the European Centre for Disease Control of testing every two weeks.
Jun. 03, 2020 The FOA trade union reports success in getting the government to set up a new committee to deal with personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing for COVID-19 infections. The new body will not only ensure that enough PPE and testing are available in response to any resurgence in the pandemic but also in preparation for any future crises. The union also underlined the need to take measures to ensure that health and social care are in general strengthened and not subject to the kinds of efficiency measures that have been common in recent years. FOA underlines the need for support for the elder care sector in particular which has been neglected by employers and the government to the detriment of workers and the elderly.
Apr. 24, 2020 The FOA sees it has a huge victory that COVID-19 is now recognised as an occupational disease and has also welcomed the fact that the process of proving infection has been relaxed. While it is already clear that workers in hospitals and care homes will be covered because of the nature of their work, FOA says that there is now the possibility for more groups of workers to be included such as day care workers, parking attendants and others who come into regular close contact with the public. Proof of risk of infection can now be based simply on a description of work and extent of contact with citizens.
Mar. 05, 2020 The FOA trade union highlights figures from the VIVE research organisation that show massive variations in staffing levels in eldercare establishments across the country. The staff to resident ratio at night ranges from 1:8 to 1:41, while the evening shift ratio varies from 1:2.7 to 1:11. The variation of ratios on day shifts is less dramatic but still ranges from 1:1.4 to 1:4.2. FOA argues that the varying needs of residents can't account for such variations and that in many cases homes have failed to increase staffing to cope with the higher demands of older residents with health problems. The union is calling for national standards to tackle the problem.
Feb. 21, 2020 The Co-Industri group of manufacturing unions has negotiated a new three-year agreement covering 230,000 workers in the private sector and setting the pace for the current bargaining round. The agreement includes a number of significant improvements in areas like work-life balance (paternity and parental leave), sick pay (14 weeks on full pay, up from nine), training and education and pensions, with pension accrual starting from 18. The share of salary that workers can exchange for other benefits (pensions, leave etc.) will increase from 4% to 7%. Over the three-year period the hourly minimum rate will increase by DKK 7,50 (EUR 1) from the current DKK 119.65 (EUR 16.02) to DKK 127.15 (EUR 17.02) in March 2022.
Jan. 09, 2020 The HK Kommunal local government union is entering negotiations with the municipality of Esbjerg to discuss moving to a four-day week in the authority's job centre. However, the union is very sceptical about the prospects for the negotiations as it is in the context of the municipality aiming for major cost savings. HK Kommunal clearly states that a four-day week is not about forcing employees to do in four days all that they currently do in five days. The union says that Esbjerg is following the agreement reached in the Odsherred local authority in 2019 but there the focus was not on cost savings but on assessing the potential benefits of a shorter working week and the agreement was only finalised after several years of negotiations.
Dec. 19, 2019 The FOA public services union has around 5000 members who work in the private sector mainly for companies providing social care. There are four key themes in its plans for the first round of bargaining that will start in the New Year. With the economy improving the union sees clear space for a good general wage increase. It also wants workers to have more scope to choose what element of their salary they take as pay, pension contribution or holiday entitlement. FOA will also be looking for measures to improve work-life balance and guarantees that its members will have access to union representatives.
Dec. 06, 2019 A new report by VIVE, the Danish Centre for Social Science Research, provides further confirmation that pay inequality is a major structural problem facing the public services and particularly the care and social service sectors. The research shows that average wages in a sector fall as the proportion of women workers rises and that an annual average salary of DKK 30000 in a sector dominated by men falls to DKK 24150 in a sector dominated by women. Public services unions FOA, BUPL, SL and the cartel of health unions managed to negotiate a specific fund to tackle pay inequality in the 2018 negotiations but they are looking for much more significant funding from the government in the lead up to the next negotiations in 2021.
Nov. 19, 2019 The FOA public services union has warned of the consequences of failing to maintain minimum staffing levels in childcare. It says that a survey of parents using childcare already reveals that 18% of parents have been affected by falling standards and reduced opening hours. FOA also quotes a television documentary that highlights the benefits to children of ensuring the minimum level of one childcare teacher per six children. Apart from the benefits to children the union also highlights the loss in tax revenue as the impact of fewer childcare places and reduced opening times equates to 5000 fewer workers in full-time employment.
Oct. 09, 2019 The FOA public services union has analysed the staffing shortage facing health and social service providers across the country. It estimates that by 2028 the staffing shortage will reach 41000 unless urgent action is taken now. With a third of staff aged 55 and over, there will be a large number of retirements in the coming period, not taking account of staff who may change jobs. FOA argues that the service needs to offer more full-time jobs with greater recognition of the work done by carers and proper time allowed to carry out tasks.
Oct. 02, 2019
On 1 October over 60 trade union representatives from 22 countries took part in a lively conference in Brussels on the European Semester - the European Union's annual process of economic and social policy coordination.
May. 28, 2019 The FOA public services union has warned the Vikapleje private eldercare company that it will face strike action from 15 June unless it ensures that its employees are paid in line with the municipal agreement. The company provides services for the Halsnæs municipality north west of Copenhagen and FOA has been trying for some time to negotiate an agreement with the company along the lines of those it has with many other private companies. The union estimates that Vikaplege is costing workers as much as DKK 90000 (EUR 12000) a year in lower pay and pension benefits.