Public service trade unions have reacted angrily over the government decision to freeze pay for millions of public sector workers, including municipal employees, care workers, civil servants and teachers. Health workers are excluded from the “pay pause” as the chancellor (finance minister) calls it and there will be a GBP 250 (EUR 278) increase for workers paid less than GBP 24000 (EUR 26730) a year. The unions have attacked the decision as a “divide and rule” tactic and argue that many public service workers have yet to see their pay levels recover in real terms after the last bout of
Low pay/minimum wages
The latest global wage report from the International Labour Organisation reveals the main trends in pay and minimum wages, highlighting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the first half of this year. It notes a downward pressure on the level or growth rate of average wages in two thirds of the countries for which recent data are available. In other countries, including France and Italy, average wages increased, largely artificially as a reflection of the substantial job losses among lower-paid workers. The report also shows that women workers and low-paid workers generally have been
Negotiations in the private nursing and care sector have ended without agreement and so now move into mediation. The trade union position is to try to ensure that occupations are paid at similar levels irrespective of the collective agreement in place but there is not employer commitment to do this. Public service union Fagforbundet acknowledges that there will always be some variations between agreements but is concerned that major differences are becoming systematic. It points out that a cleaner in private nursing and care has a minimum wage of NOK 258000 (EUR 24000) which is around NOK
With the European Commission expected to publish its draft directive on fair minimum wages on 28 October, the ETUC has put together a range of documents and press releases that cover a wide range of arguments in favour of legislation on minimum wages and collective bargaining. The ETUC argues that initiatives to boost pay and strengthen collective bargaining are essential as part of the response to the pandemic and that it is crucial not to repeat the mistakes following the last crisis when collective bargaining was undermined in some countries as part of austerity measures.
The STAL local government union has organised a march and demonstration outside parliament for 23 October. The union wants the government to ensure that the 2021 budget includes funding for key measures on pay. The union has four main demands - a EUR 90 increase for all workers; implementation of an allowance for dangerous and arduous work; changes to the pay structure to abolish pay levels that fall below the national minimum wage; and reinstatement of compensation payments for accidents at work. The final point relates to compensation for permanent partial incapacity that was the victim of
UNISON, GMB and Unite, the trade unions representing non-teaching staff, have joined with teaching unions in setting out their pay claim for colleges of further education. The unions are calling for a significant move towards the full restoration of pay levels to where they would be had college pay kept pace with inflation since 2009. They also want to see the living wage, as calculated by the Living Wage Foundation, to be the minimum wage in the sector, with all colleges in England becoming accredited living wage employers with the Foundation. The unions also want all contracted-out services
Public service union UNISON has won a major legal victory for 10 home care workers who are set to share £100000 (EUR 109000) in compensation for underpayment of wages. The case involves the failure of private contractors to pay to cover travelling time between jobs. It could have major implications for other home care workers and UNISON is calling on the government to act to outlaw the practice. Effectively, some of the workers were being paid less than half the minimum wage by being denied payment for travel time - an essential part of their work as home care staff - with some working as long
The ETUC has welcomed statements from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that she supports collective bargaining and decent minimum wages, however, it wants to see the concrete details which are not expected to be revealed before 28 October. Von der Leyen's State of the European Union speech refers to the problem of low pay while in an interview in Sweden she underlined her support for collective bargaining. She also stressed that the Commission would guarantee protection for strong collective bargaining systems like those in Sweden and would not force the introduction of
ETUC Executive Committee members have voted by a large majority in support of the Confederation's submission to the European Commission's second stage consultation on fair minimum wages. In the submission, the ETUC calls for a directive that sets a minimum level for national minimum wages across Europe and introduces measures to strengthen and promote collective bargaining. The document also underlines the importance of not introducing any provisions that might undermine industrial relations systems where collective bargaining is strong and where social partners do not support the introduction
The SIPTU union has called on the government to set a budget that includes a guaranteed living wage for all childcare workers along with a sick pay scheme. The living wage is €12.30 an hour while the average wage in the sector is €11.46 and the union argues that higher pay will be important in reducing the 40% staff turnover among childcare workers. SIPTU also points out that 79% of childcare workers don't have a sick pay scheme and this is inhibiting the sector's response to ensuring safe workplaces for both workers and children.
The FNV trade union is involved in two major campaigns. The first, running from 1-5 September, is a nationwide action across health and social care in response to COVID-19. The union wants to see proper recognition of the role played by health and social care workers and is calling for better pay and working conditions, reduced workloads and more autonomy for workers. The FNV is underlining the importance of preparing for a second wave of the pandemic and argues that action is needed to make the health and care sectors more attractive to increase recruitment. Meanwhile, the union is running a
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.
ETUC Executive Committee discussed Minimum Wage, Digital Agenda and violation of information and consultation rights
The main debate in the ETUC Executive was about the response of the ETUC to the 2nd consultation of the European Commission on addressing the challenges for fair minimum wages.
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