(February 2017) Negotiators in the private manufacturing sector signed a new three-year deal last month. This is seen as a key agreement setting the pace for negotiations in other sectors. In the public services, the FOA union noted in particular the proposals for new funding and rights for workers for training as well as improved parental leave. FOA also underlines the flat-rate, two-crown (EUR 0.3) increase in the minimum hourly pay rates in each of the three years of the agreement. Which will take the minimum to DKK 117.65 (EUR 16.1) by 2019.
(February 2017) The vida and GPA-djp service unions have negotiated a new agreement covering 5000 workers employed by Diakonie Austria, the church-based care provider. The pay increase of 1.9% is ahead of the 0.9% average inflation rate recorded in 2016. In addition there are improvements to and protection of the rights of workers taking parental leave which the unions say will particularly benefit the significant number of part-time women workers with childcare needs.
(March 2017) A joint report from the Eurofound agency and the International Labour Organisations examines the advantages and disadvantages of telework and puts forward some policy proposals on key issues. The report points to positive effects such as a shortening of commuting time, greater working time autonomy, better work–life balance, and higher productivity. However, it also notes the risks of longer working hours, interference between work and personal life, and work intensification, leading to high levels of stress.
(April 2017) The BSRB public services union is promoting an pilot project on shorter weekly working time. Four workplaces, including police, revenue and immigration services have been selected to participate to examine whether shortening the work week will bring mutual benefit to employees and the employer. The pilot will last one year from 1 April and the hours worked by employees will be reduced from 40 to 36 per week without wage cuts to come. The project will examine the impact on quality and efficiency and staff morale and well being.
(April 2017) Trade unions have negotiated a one-hour cut to the working week without loss of pay. The standard working week will now be 42 hours although there is a prospect for a further cut to 41.5 hours in upcoming negotiations in the public sector. The initiative recognises that standard working hours are longer than most countries and action is needed to improve work-life balance.
(June 2017) The ETF European federation for transport workers has reacted angrily to recommendatoins from the European Commission in its "Open and connected Europe" document on the so-called service continuity, including measures affecting the right to strike of air traffic control staff. The federation believes the measures infringe the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and says it reserves the right to challenge them in the European Court of Justice. The ETF is also highly critical of the mobility package launched by the European Commission last month, arguing against dangerous proposals on
Services union ver.di is targetting a selection of public and private hospitals in seven regions, calling on them to negotiate agreements to reduce excessive workloads. The union argues that many healthworkers are under pressure to work long hours to fill the gap left by a shortage of 162000 workers across the sector. This is having a detrimental impact on workers' health and ver.di wants employers to recognise this and their responsibility to provide good working conditions.
The GPA-djp private services union is campaigning to defend workers' rights on working time and against pressure from employers for more flexibility in working time legislation and a move to a 12-hour maximum working day. The union points out that Austrian workers already have a 41.5-hour working week on average, among the highest in Europe, and often have to work overtime at short notice. The GPA-djp also highlights the evidence of increased health and safety risks once the working day goes over nine hours.
Members of the FNV trade union at the Kwadrant care company have made some progress on their demands for action on jobs and overwork (see epsucob@NEWS no.15). In an initial meeting with management the workers have at least been given a commitment that travel time between clients will be fully paid working time. They will have to wait until 1 October to find out if the company will respond to their key demand not to cut jobs and to tackle the heavy workloads faced by many carers. The union has organised a petition among workers to highlight the problems they face.
In the run-up to negotiating a new collective agreement covering 80000 workers in the childcare sector, the FNV trade union has published the results of a survey that reveal excessive flexibility in working hours and too many fixed-term contracts as major issues for childcare workers. The union argues that many workers have so few set hours that they can be called on at short notice to work additional hours, creating uncertainty and stress. With the increasing demand for workers in the sector the FNV argues that these issues need to be addressed if more qualified workers are to be recruited.
Member of the services union ver.di working in several hospitals across the country took strike action on 19 September as part of the union's campaign on safe staffing levels and reducing workloads. EPSU general secretary Jan Willem Goudriaan sent a message of support, underlining the importance of protecting the well-being of both health workers and patients by taking urgent action to reduce staff shortages in the sector estimated at over 160000, including over 70000 frontline care workers.
Following votes across all the public sector unions, a majority (14), accounting for 80% by membership supported the new agreement on pay and conditions with three voting against. The three-year deal includes six pay increases (two targeted at the lower paid only) and will mean that the majority of public sector workers (73%) will see an overall increase of 7% by the end of the agreement. There is a range of other conditions that have been confirmed as part of the deal including the retention of outsourcing protections, the option to negotiate on returning to a shorter working week and