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.
As negotiations get underway across the public services, unions are setting out their main collective bargaining demands. For JHL, Jyty and Juko it is important to achieve general wage increases that improve purchasing power and ensure that public service workers keep pace with those in the private sector. The unions highlight the need for action on pay to tackle the widespread staff shortages across many occupations, especially in the care sector. They also want to improve working time regulations, develop pay systems and promote equality and well-being at work, with extended paid family
The three trade union confederations – ACV/CSC, ABVV/FBTG and ACLVB/CGLSB – have launched a petition on pay with the aim of securing 25000 signatures and getting a debate in parliament. The confederations want to see changes to legislation that impose restrictions on the scope for negotiating pay rises. They argue that the current system leaves little room for manoeuvre and means that increasing inflation is eating rapidly into workers’ purchasing power. The unions want to ensure that the current system of indexation is maintained and also to allow for the right to negotiate on pay at all
New figures from the ETUC reveal that workers across Europe would be on average €649.30 better off if wages had kept pace with productivity since 2019. This is more than the €419.48 estimated average cost of Christmas. The ETUC argues that extending and strengthening collective bargaining are key to ensuring that workers’ pay keeps pace with productivity and is urging the French government, which assumes the EU presidency in January, to make swift progress with the Adequate Minimum Wages Directive and its important provisions on collective bargaining.
The JHL public services union has successfully defended the pay and conditions of workers employed by the Arkea municipal company that provides catering and other services to the Turku local authority. The company had sought to change collective agreements that would have meant significant changes to pay rates with some workers potentially losing out by as much as 30% of their earnings. The strike action led to negotiations with the company which will now stick with the current agreement which is due to be re-negotiated next spring.
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
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 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
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.