Jul. 31, 2020 This newsletter aims to report on the latest news about public service collective bargaining. Articles are stored on the EPSU website and can be searched by country and theme here. However, it is going to be particularly important to follow the latest developments as EPSU affiliates negotiate on pay in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. EPSU has therefore put together a country-by-country overview that gives the state of play of bargaining in each country. It will be updated at least once a month and information on more countries and sectors will be added. The link to the article is below but also at the end of the introductory paragraph in the collective bargaining section of the EPSU website - here.
Jul. 28, 2020 National trade union confederations are keeping the ETUC up-to-date with what trade unions and labour inspectorates are doing to ensure safety at the workplace in response to COVID-19 and, in particular, in relation to the return to work. In Austria, 20% of inspected workplaces have been told to improve their safety procedures while the Danish FH confederation reports some problems in private clinics and healthcare and it has taken action to ensure that health and social care facilities are fully part of the inspection regime. In Ireland more inspectors have been taken on to cope with increased demands while in Sweden and the UK unions have been involved in walkouts when faced with workplaces that don't meet the new safety standards. The other confederations reporting to the ETUC so far are ZSSS in Slovenia and the UGT in Spain. The information is being regularly updated.
Jul. 28, 2020 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.
Jul. 28, 2020 EPSU has just published new factsheets on the right to strike in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia taking the total number of countries covered in this series to 41. This follows the addition of factsheets on Moldova, Russia and Ukraine earlier this year. Each factsheet sets out the main legal provisions and highlights any recent cases taken to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and/or the European Social Committee (ESC) of the Council of Europe. Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia have all been the subject of ILO and ESC cases. The ESC has ruled that all three are not in conformity with the Article 6.4 of the European Social Charter because of the restrictions imposed on the right to strike in the public sector.
Jul. 28, 2020 The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is recommending that governments should aim to increase the collective bargaining coverage rate among women in non-standard jobs as a way to close the gender pay gap. The report says that collective bargaining can be effective through targeted raises compensating for the concentration of women in low-paid industries; by establishing gender-neutral occupational classification schemes to correct the undervaluation of female-dominated occupations; measures promoting pay transparency; and gender-neutral evaluation criteria for career progress. The report has been welcomed by the ETUC which sees it as influential support for its call on the Commission to support collective bargaining, alongside binding gender pay transparency measures, as the best way to end the gender pay gap.
Jul. 13, 2020 Portuguese health workers are the latest to get a bonus (50% of basic pay) for their work in working in the emergency situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Netherlands all care workers get €1000 while in Germany so far it has only been workers in eldercare who get a €1500 payment. In Belgium, some health workers are getting €300 while workers in private health and social care in Austria received €500, the same as frontline staff in Bulgaria. In the UK all care workers in Wales have received a payment of €570. In contrast to these lump sums, the COVID-19 payments for health staff in the Czech Republic are additional payments per hours ranging from €3.70, to €18.50 and €55.30 depending on their level of exposure to risk. In Sweden, an agreement on emergency work was already in place before COVID-19 hit and this meant that health workers could get additional payments of 120% of their hourly rate, rising to 150% for overtime hours.
Jun. 05, 2020 On 3 June, the European Commission launched the second-stage consultation on an initiative to deliver fair minimum wages. The deadline for responses is 4 September. In an initial reaction, the ETUC welcomed the greater emphasis on collective bargaining. However, there is no detailed proposal from the Commission. The ETUC has underlined the importance of action on wages, noting the impact of the current crisis and the fact that in several countries wages have yet to recover from the previous crisis. A draft response is due from the ETUC shortly and this will be discussed at an EPSU collective bargaining working group on 19 June.
May. 08, 2020 The ETUC has published a first COVID-19 Watch briefing on social dialogue across Europe. Covering 20 countries, the briefing indicates that in most countries trade unions have been involved in various degrees in consultation and negotiation over emergency measures. This includes Spain and Italy, two of the countries worst hit by the pandemic. In France, the situation is more mixed with some limitation on trade union involvement in discussing key measures. More worrying have been the developments in Croatia, Hungary and Poland. While the Croatian withdrew plans to limit trade union and employment rights, emergency legislation in Hungary and Poland allows for major restrictions on social dialogue and trade union rights.
May. 08, 2020 Global trade union federations have welcomed the initiative of the ENGIE energy multinational to commit to cover any hospitalisation and death-related costs arising from the COVID-19 virus for any of its 170000 employees around the world. The company is bringing forward implementation of a new CARE programme for employees that would provide help with such costs but, in the period up to 31 December 2020, is boosting this by providing full coverage of hospitalization costs related to COVID-19 and for employees temporarily without social protection providing all-cause death cover and reimbursement of hospital costs related to the disease.
Mar. 05, 2020 The ETUC used an event in Brussels on 25 February to underline the need for legislation to end pay secrecy clauses, deliver compulsory annual pay audits and the right for workers to request gender pay information from their employers. While information helps, the ETUC also stresses that it is not enough to end inequality in pay and that a directive is needed to empower women workers and their unions to negotiate the changes needed to ensure equal pay in the workplace. Representatives of EPSU joined the action.
Mar. 05, 2020 The ETUC has revealed the latest data showing the decline in collective bargaining coverage across Europe. The ETUC has been pressing the case for action on wages and collective bargaining and set out a range of key demands and red lines in its submission to the European Commission's consultation on fair minimum wages. Figures from the University of Amsterdam show that 3.3 million fewer workers are covered by collective bargaining compared to 2000. The biggest percentage declines have been seen in Romania, Greece and Bulgaria.
Feb. 21, 2020 The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has released figures showing how pay increases in many countries across Europe have lagged behind productivity developments over the period 2010-2019. Wage rises in 15 European Union Member States have been anything from 0.2% to 35% lower than productivity increase over that period. The ETUC is calling for "action to support stronger collective bargaining. When workers can bargain for their fair share of productivity gains the median wage increases which makes it more likely that 60% of the median wage amounts to a minimum wage from which workers can make a living."
Feb. 03, 2020 As the debate continues during the first phase consultation over the European Commission's proposals on fair minimum wages, the ETUC is highlighting the need for a major boost to legal minimum wages across Europe. It argues that in most of the 22 EU member states with a statutory national minimum wage it fails to meet even the minimal at risk-of-poverty wage threshold of 60% of the median wage. In 10 member states, the statutory minimum is 50% or less of the national median wage.
Jan. 21, 2020 On 14 January the European Commission published a document on fair wages, launching a six-week consultation process with trade unions and employer organisations. The ETUC welcomed some key points in the document such as the acknowledgement that wage in many countries were too low and that collective bargaining is an essential element of a social market economy. However, it was also disappointed that the document was very short on concrete measures, particularly in relation to strengthening and extending collective bargaining. The ETUC is drafting a response that will be discussed at its collective bargaining committee on 31 January and EPSU has convened a working group on 30 January to discuss the document.
Jan. 09, 2020 Around 50000 European public service officials and other workers employed by the European institutions and agencies are getting a 2% pay increase backdated to 1 July 2019. This is the result of the application of a pay formula obtained following lengthy strike action organised by EPSU affiliate Union Syndicale Fédérale in the 1980s and 90s and incorporated in the Staff Regulations since 2004. The formula guarantees that the purchasing power of these workers develops in line with inflation and the pay of officials in the central governments of the 28 member states with 1.5% due to inflation in Belgium and Luxemburg and the other 0.5% based on the average increase of the purchasing power of officials in central governments.