Two reports looking at union members’ views on digitalisation show that the lack of an employee perspective means that digital technology risks exacerbating existing problems at the workplace. An imbalance between the demands of new technology and the level of resources allocated to their introduction contributes to poor health and safety at work and high sick leave. The reports underline that employees need to be involved and also reveal that many union members do not believe that new digital tools meet the high expectations of increased efficiency and a better working environment. The
Low pay/minimum wages, Digitalisation
Getting to grips with digitalisation
Digitalisation has the potential to positively transform public services and the jobs of public service workers. Quicker and easier access to services and increased participation of citizens can be combined with better quality jobs as repetitive work is replaced with more fulfilling tasks. However, trade unions must be involved in the transformation process not just to ensure that workers have their fare share of the benefits of digitalisation but also to deal with the potential downside. This briefing, produced for EPSU's 2019 Congress, highlights some of the work done on this issue in recent years and sets out the current priorities.
The ITUC global trade union confederation has noted the significance of the recent award of the Nobel prize for economics to David Card, Joshua Angrist and Guido Imbens. Their key research in the 1990s demonstrated that higher minimum wages do not mean fewer jobs, providing a powerful counter-argument to the often heard claims of employers and many governments about the negative effects of minimum wages. The ITUC argues that this prize is a serious indictment of many economists in that it has taken some 30 years for the facts to be given prominence over a damaging and groundless idea. It added
The public service federations – Fp Cgil, Cisl Fp, Uilpa and Uil Fpl – want to ensure that as the move from obligatory to voluntary remote working takes place, all workers are provided with the appropriate protection so that they can enjoy the potential benefits and flexibility of remote working while helping to improve service delivery. The unions argue that workers should be guaranteed the same pay as those in the workplace, along with normal working hours and the right to disconnect. The federations acknowledge that the situation may vary across the public services and so negotiations may
An ETUC analysis shows that almost three million people low-paid workers across Europe can’t afford to heat their homes. The ETUC estimates that even before expected further increases in energy prices 15% of Europe’s working poor won’t be able to turn on the heating – equivalent to 2,713,578 people across Europe. The analysis also shows that the situation has deteriorated in 10 EU member states over the last decade. With the directive on adequate minimum wages now being discussed in the European Council and Parliament, the ETUC argues that energy price rises make strong EU action on wages even
The European Parliament (EP) has backed proposals to prevent platform companies from forcing workers into false self-employment and denying them rights to minimum wages, holiday and sick pay, and a secure employment contract. In recent years platform companies have lost a string of court cases over false self-employment, with the latest in the Netherlands where judges ruled “the legal relationship between Uber and these drivers meets all the characteristics of an employment contract.” The EP report supports a rebuttable presumption of an employment relationship for platform companies and
Some public service federations will be joining their private sector colleagues in a national demonstration on 5 October calling for an increase in salaries and the minimum wage. The unions note that private company profits are surging along with dividends to shareholders while workers are facing higher prices, not least for energy. In the public sector, workers are facing another year of a freeze on the index that determines salary levels with the government again having to adjust the lowest salary levels just to ensure that they don’t fall below the minimum wage.
A new report from the Eurofound research agency has found that teleworkers are twice as likely to exceed the 48-hour working time limit as workers onsite and are significantly more likely to work in their free time. This underlines the importance of securing a right to disconnect and the report looks at the experience of the first four Member States that introduced rules and agreements on the right to disconnect prior to 2021. These have demonstrated the pivotal role of the social partners in ensuring these rules are translated into reality on the ground. The report argues that new agreements
The European Commission has proposed a number of important instruments to shape digitalisation in the European Union. These are the target of the big technological firms like Amazon, Google and Facebook to ensure new regulations do not harm their business model.
EPSU joins coalition - Demanding technology that serves us and ends Big Tech’s destructive business model
EPSU joined Amnesty, Corporate Europe Observatory, European Youth Forum, Transparency International and many other organisations demanding changes to the European Commission’s flagship proposal the Digital Services Act (DSA).
The FeSP-UGT public services federation has signed an agreement with the Fresenius Medical Care company setting out a digital disconnection procedure, which will be applied to all workers in all Fresenius’s centres and clinics in Spain. It recognises the company's commitment to guarantee this right during holidays other days off and daily and weekly rest periods, based on the digital rights legislation of 2018. The union wanted to make sure there was a proper procedure for monitoring application of the agreement and dealing with issues such as emergency situations arising from staff shortages
An analysis by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) reveals that workers receiving poverty-level pay are among the 35 million of the poorest Europeans who can’t afford a summer holiday. Overall, 28% of EU citizens can’t afford a one-week holiday away from home – but that rises to 59.5% for people whose income is below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold (60% of the median). The worst situation is in Greece where 88.9% of people living at risk of poverty couldn’t afford a break, followed by Romania (86.8%), Croatia (84.7%), Cyprus (79.2%) and Slovakia (76.1%). The ETUC says that many