Collective Bargaining, Staffing levels
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 has organised strike action at the Arkea Oy municipal company, owned by the City of Turku. The union is challenging the company’s plans to switch employers' organisation and transfer around 1000 employees to a different collective agreement with poorer pay and conditions. Lower-paid workers could see their pay cut by 15%-30%. The city's group management has given the plan its blessing and discussions between the trade union JHL and Arkea have not yielded any results. The action began on 17 November with measures taken to ensure no risks to safety. The strike will affect
The two main trade union confederations – FGTB/ABVV and CSC/ACV – are jointly organising a national demonstration on 6 December. They want to raise the problem of defending living standards as inflation increases, particularly driven by soaring energy prices. The confederations want to ensure that there is real space for proper negotiations and are challenging the provisions of the 1996 law that restricts the scope for pay increases. In the recent biennial negotiations the margin for increasing pay above inflation was limited to 0.4%. The confederations also want to defend trade union rights
Services union ver.di has had mixed reactions to the coalition agreement between the social democrats, greens and liberal FDP party who are set to form the next government. The union sees some positive elements in relation to workers’ rights and collective bargaining including proposed measures to close any gaps in company co-determination and deliver the electronic right of access to workers for trade unions. The union has also welcomed the decision not to press ahead with plans that would have allowed for opening clauses for longer working hours and shorter rest periods via company
The GPA and vida trade unions that organise in private health and social care have launched a new campaign, “Words are not enough” with the support of their confederation, the ÖGB. The unions are calling for increased funding for the sectors to improve pay and conditions, increase staffing by at least 20000, reduce workloads and provide a further COVID bonus and additional time off. The unions say that applause and praise for health and social care staff is not enough and action is needed to increase the funding that covers private health and social care.
As recovery from the pandemic is taking place several finance ministers have started to argue we have to go back to balanced budgets and reduce state debts. EPSU and many other unions argued at the ETUC mid term conference that we can not go back to austerity.
The FNV and other unions that organise in the eight university medical centres (UMCs) are planning a third day of industrial action on 25 November unless the employers show willingness to re-open negotiations over pay, workloads and staffing. This will be the third day of action in the UMCs that employ around 80000 workers. The employers have said that they will negotiate over allocation of the extra €60 million of funding for pay provided by the government. However, the unions argue that even with the additional money this would still leave a below-inflation pay rise for the next three years
Health unions organising in both the public (GÖD and younion) and private (vida and GPA) sectors united with other health organisations in a major nationwide action on 10 November to highlight the state of the health service and the need for urgent action. The unions stress that staffing shortages were already apparent before the pandemic and their impact now is to leave most health and care workers both physically and mentally exhausted. They underline the need for increased staffing, improved and additional training and better employment conditions if a dangerous crisis is to be avoided. On
Following last month’s strike in university medical centres, the FNV and other trade unions organised another national strike on 26 October, this time affecting more than three times as many departments across the eight centres. The action is effectively imposing a Sunday service across 279 departments including operating theatres, radiology services, laboratories, outpatient clinics and various nursing departments. All emergency care continues. The unions are calling for a 3% pay increase for all workers and action to tackle understaffing and excessive workloads.
The vpod/ssp trade union is mobilising for a national demonstration of health workers in Berne on 30 October. The aim of the protest is to highlight the efforts and sacrifices that health workers have made in responding to the COVID-19 crisis. Key demands include a COVID bonus but also action to deal with the long-standing problems of pay and understaffing in the sector. The union is also calling for measures to improve training, work-life balance and retirement provision and argues that pay increases should reflect the arduousness of many health workers’ jobs.
The ver.di services union has called for the new parliament, meeting for the first time on 26 October, and eventually the new government to set an example by supporting a collective agreement for the parliament’s drivers. The union says that the workers are paid less, work longer hours and have poorer pension entitlement than colleagues who are covered by the public sector agreement that covers federal employees. While ver.di is positive about the signs of support from social democratic MPs, it has made clear that the drivers are willing to fight for a collective agreement and further strike
Civil service unions, including OSSOO representing state workers and those representing health, social care (OSZSP) and cultural workers, signed a new higher-level collective agreement on 4 October. The agreement will run from 1 January to 31 December 2022 with the possibility of an extension for a further year. The agreement covers a range of rights such as paid leave for personal reasons, so-called indisposition leave, and service- and age-related payments as well as invalidity and retirement pensions. The new agreement is not changed much from the previous one with some clarification
A new report from municipal services union Kommunal reveals how the pandemic affected workers across the sectors in which it organises. Based on interviews with nurses, cleaners, paramedics, caretakers and other workers, the report confirms the huge impact on healthcare where workers’ efforts have been central to the management of the pandemic. Employees have had to make huge sacrifices, working extra shifts, double shifts and overtime, with many authorities having to hire temporary staff, get pensioners back to work and with staff having holidays cancelled or being transferred to different