After several weeks of conflict, rallies and the threat of strike action, the HSMCTU health union, with the support of the GTUC confederation, secured an agreement from the Ministry of Health that it would not introduce a 12-hour work schedule for paramedics. The Ministry also agreed to remunerate employees’ overtime work and to have further meetings with the union to discuss how to increase salaries. The dispute had arisen following the Ministry’s decision to remove a wage supplement that had been introduced during the Covid pandemic and its plan to introduce a 12-hour work schedule
Negotiating and campaigning on working time
After pay, working time is core collective bargaining issue but is also an important area of employment regulated by national and European legislation. EPSU has been very active in defending and calling for proper implementation of the Working Time Directive and is involved in current debates on working time. The why and how of working time reduction is a guide produced for EPSU by the European Trade Union Institute and examines long-term trends in working time, the arguments for reducing it and examples of how this has been achieved.
The HK Kommunal local government union reports that negotiations are underway to make the four-day week permanent at the Odsherred municipality, north west of Copenhagen. An experimental scheme began in 2019 with the standard 37 hours worked on Monday to Thursday, leaving Fridays off. The view of staff is generally positive and the negotiations may involve the option for greater flexibility in terms of the weekly day off. Meanwhile, there are new developments in the global 4-day week campaign with the launch of pilot projects involving over 3300 workers in 70 companies in the UK. In contrast
Municipal unions are pushing for the right to full-time work across the sector to tackle what they see as excessive use of part-time contracts. The FOA trade union has calculated the financial implications of full-time (37 hours a week) work for different occupations working different hours. For example, a social and health care assistant, who today is 41 years old, can increase their lifetime income (including all allowances and pensions) by DKK 5.3 million (over €700,000) by working full-time instead of 25 hours. Even older workers would see a real difference with a 51-year-old cleaner able
Services union ver.di has negotiated a collective agreement with the AWO non-profit care provider in Augsburg in Bavaria that includes a 35-hour week without loss of pay for nurses and other workers in the social and educational services provided by the organisation. The union sees this as setting an important example for the rest of the care sector. AWO said it wanted to work with the union to provide concrete solutions to address stressful work and to make care jobs more attractive by improving working conditions. The collective agreement provides for a two-hour reduction in weekly working
Public services union Fórsa has welcome the government’s decision to accept an independent body’s recommendation for working time to be restored to pre-austerity levels for virtually all public servants from 1 July 2022. The additional working hours were imposed in July 2013, increasing the standard working time of civil and public servants to 39 hours for those who previously worked between 35 and 37 hours, and to 37 hours for those who previously worked 35 hours or less. The hours of those working 39 hours or more per week were unchanged. The independent body said it had taken account of the
The VPOD public services union supported demonstrations in more than 25 towns and cities across the country on 9 April calling for action on working time. The protests focused on the potential environmental benefits of shorter working time along with the positive outcomes in terms of gender equality and workers’ rights. VPOD noted that progress on working time reduction has been limited with average working in Switzerland still closed to 42 hours a week. The union underlined the importance of improving work-life balance and the prospects of having a fairer share of domestic responsibilities if
EPSU organised an online working group on 5 April to bring affiliates up-to-date with developments on the Adequate Minimum Wages Directive and to provide them with background on the 4-day week campaign. Lorenzo Repetti, advisor at the ETUC, indicated some of the key issues that were being covered in the trialogue negotiations on the Directive between the European Commission, Council and Parliament. He noted that some key provisions to strengthen collective bargaining that were supported by the ETUC were being challenged by the Council. Lorenzo reported on positive developments in relation to
The VPOD public services union has reacted positively to the decision by the Zurich regional hospital in Wetzikon to reduce the working week for nurses from 42 to 37.8 hours, with full pay. The initiative runs until the end of 2023 and only applies to nurses who regularly work in the three-shift model, i.e. who also provide night and weekend services. The union launched a charter for health workers in 2019 that called for reduced working hours on full pay as part of a wider range of measures to make substantial improvements to working conditions and improve recruitment and retention. VPOD sees
Public service trade unions Fórsa, SIPTU and INMO have welcomed the decision to pay a €1000 tax-free bonus to all those who worked in clinical, COVID-exposed environments and in a separate development to reduce working time for public service workers to pre-austerity levels. From 1 July this year public servants working full-time will return to the 35-hour week that applied before 2013 when austerity measures were introduced in response to the 2008-09 economic and financial crisis. This decision is also seen as partly in recognition of the efforts made during the pandemic. The government has
The Delta public services union is pleased that the government has come forward with a legislative proposal to make full-time work the norm. The union has been monitoring the situation closely and says that less than 20% of health professional jobs advertised since 2019 have been full-time positions. Delta will look in detail at the draft but says that the main provisions will mean that full-time work is prioritised and that employers will have to provide a justification for offering part-time work and discuss this with elected representatives. The proposals will also mean that extra hours
Childcare workers in the private sector who are covered by pay regulations rather than a collective agreement are getting a 3.2% pay increase following negotiations led by the GPA and vida trade unions. Meanwhile, full-time workers in private health and social care are now entitled to a 37-hour week as of 1 January. This was the result of earlier negotiations by the GPA and vida unions and reflects their long-running campaign to tackle overwork in the sectors. The unions are also determined to continue their efforts to reduce working time with a target of a 35-hour week.
The continuing demands imposed by the COVID pandemic are being addressed by municipal trade unions and employers through a new agreement setting out rules on overtime. The agreement will be applied locally if agreed between the local union and employer and provides for higher overtime rates and limits on overtime hours. Overtime rates are increased to 200% on normal days and 300% on weekends and holidays. The rates also apply to part-time workers above 20 hours a week. The agreement sets a range of daily, weekly and monthly limits to overtime hours.
Trade unions and employer organisations in public services have reviewed the impact of the crisis agreement that was negotiated to regulate pay and conditions of employees working during critical events such as natural disasters, fires and floods, pandemics or acts of terrorism. It covers approximately 1.2 million employees in municipalities, regions and municipal companies, including healthcare, care, school, infrastructure and emergency services. Initially, negotiated following major forest fires, the agreement has also been implemented during the COVID pandemic. The review found it was