Collective bargaining – trends and developments
Collective bargaining is a core activity of trade unions and EPSU’s affiliates negotiate with public service employers at every level. This can range from national public-sector wide bargaining to sector and local negotiations with public sector employers but also private and non-profit providers of public services. EPSU works with the European Trade Union Confederation to try to improve collective bargaining rights for all workers across Europe. We also act as a European information point so that EPSU affiliates are aware of trends in public service negotiations. EPSU’s collective bargaining newsletter provides regular updates on developments across Europe and this briefing gives an overview of the state of play in the main agreements in each country.
The JHL public services union has made clear that in the upcoming pay round it will be seeking pay increases for all the workers it represents across public and private sectors. It argues that moderate pay rises in the public services in the past have been part of a strategy to boost economic growth but now these workers need to benefit from that growth. JHL is also concerned to take further steps to close the gender pay gap and argues strongly that decent wage rises are needed to address staffing shortages.
The younion and GÖD trade unions, representing workers across local, regional and national government and other public services, have written an open letter to the government calling for annual pay negotiations to start as soon as possible to ensure that their members see a pay increase from 1 January 2022. The unions point out that public service workers have been working under great pressure to maintain the quality and quantity of services throughout the pandemic. This has been made more challenging with the increasing numbers of workers retiring. The unions want to see a real increase in
An estimated 15000 people joined a demonstration in Brussels on 24 September calling for a change to the legislation that regulates the cross-sector negotiations in the private sector. The protest was organised by the FGTB/ABVV confederation which argues that the current rules impose an excessive restriction on the unions’ scope for negotiation. In the latest biennial negotiations, the law meant that there was only an additional 0.4% that could be added to the normal increase for inflation. The FGTB argues that the law is more focused on keeping Belgian companies competitive rather than taking
On 27 August the KESK public services confederation organised a national strike in protest at the collective agreement signed by the government and the Memur Sen trade union. KESK has a range of key demands which the agreement fails to address and is angry that it was shut out of the negotiations. The confederation argues that the pay rises foreseen in the agreement are inadequate to ensure protection against inflation and it doesn’t include any measures to deal with employment security, workplace democracy or the right to proper collective bargaining. EPSU sent a solidarity message.
The JHL public services union has carried out a major survey of its members to find out their priorities for the next round of collective bargaining. A majority (67.5%) saw a pay rise as the first priority with 84% in favour of a general wage increase to be applied to all workers. The second most important goal was the improvement of working time (37.9%) and the third most important was to improve well-being at work (32.8%), particularly the operation of occupational health care. For local negotiations 79% thought that this should be the responsibility of shop stewards and shouldn’t be
The vpod/ssp public services union has launched an organising and collective bargaining initiative to boost the level of activism in the union across the country. The aim is to talk to members and workers at local level to find out the main issues of concern and discuss what can be done in response. Pay and staffing levels have unsurprisingly emerged among the hottest issues as the bus has made its way through health and social care workplaces in Basel, Bern and the regions of Solothurn and St.Gallen. However, workers have also raised concerns about fair working hours, having proper breaks
Collective bargaining has been under pressure for years in Romania. Sectoral bargaining has been made very difficult. More recently the government undermined the social dialogue by transforming in a mere information process.
Solidarity with Turkish Public service workers on strike for higher pay, better conditions and more workplace democracy
The Turkish Public Services Confederation KESK and its affiliates are on strike 27 August. EPSU supports the strike and the demands of the unions for decent wages and fair working conditions.
The KESK public sector confederation has set out its main demands for the public sector negotiations that started at the beginning of August. The priority will be restoring the 8.5% loss in purchasing power for public sector workers over the last two years and along with a further increase to cover inflation that the confederation estimates to be higher than 50% in contrast to the official figure of just over 30%. The other key demands include ending privatisation, increasing public investment and public employment, reducing working time and strengthening job security. KESK also wants action
The five national trade union confederations sent a solidarity message to the MESZK chamber of healthcare professionals in support of its protest march in Budapest on 31 July. The demonstrators called for pay increases for nurses in line with those already awarded to doctors and argued this was crucial to help stem the migration of nurses to western Europe. Earlier this year the five confederations also came together to file a complaint with the International Labour Organisation over the government’s imposition of new legislation which removes the rights to negotiate and take strike action
The SINTAP public service trade union has negotiated a new collective agreement with the Inova company that provides waste, water and other municipal services in Cantanhede in the Coimbra district. The union highlights in particular the progressive reduction of working hours in 2022 and 2023 to 35 a week; changes to the timing of night work; additional holiday entitlement – an extra day for each 10 years of service and general increase in annual leave to 25 by 2023. There will also be increases to meal and other allowances as well as higher pay. In contrast, the STAL local government union