Trade unions and employer organisations in public services have reviewed the impact of the crisis agreement that was negotiated to regulate pay and conditions of employees working during critical events such as natural disasters, fires and floods, pandemics or acts of terrorism. It covers approximately 1.2 million employees in municipalities, regions and municipal companies, including healthcare, care, school, infrastructure and emergency services. Initially, negotiated following major forest fires, the agreement has also been implemented during the COVID pandemic. The review found it was
Negotiating and campaigning on working time
After pay, working time is core collective bargaining issue but is also an important area of employment regulated by national and European legislation. EPSU has been very active in defending and calling for proper implementation of the Working Time Directive and is involved in current debates on working time. The why and how of working time reduction is a guide produced for EPSU by the European Trade Union Institute and examines long-term trends in working time, the arguments for reducing it and examples of how this has been achieved.
A survey by the FOA trade union found that 18% of its members in eldercare who work part-time would like to work longer hours. The union says that if they were to do this this it would effectively mean an additional 2100 jobs in the sector. FOA figures show a very high level of part-time work in the sector but with variations across municipalities. It argues that municipalities like Aalborg where weekly working time is 32 hours on average have clearly begun to address the problem but across the country the average is only 27.5 hours and as low as 25 hours in some municipalities. The FOA
Nearly two out of three public employees are satisfied with the shortening of the working week, according to a survey reported by the BSRB public services federation. The results show that satisfaction is much higher among state and local government employees than among employees in other sectors. A total of 64% of civil servants say they are very or rather satisfied with the cut, with about 17% saying they are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied and about 18% saying they are very or rather dissatisfied. The difference between sectors appears to relate to the different way in which the cuts in
Nearly nine out of 10 workers in Scottish government support the move to a four-day week according to research by the Autonomy think tank. The report’s findings suggest that moving to a four-day week would boost productivity to such an extent that many departments could make the change without having to employ new staff. The research shows a range of benefits for the government, including better retention and recruitment of staff, being seen as a pioneer in setting new working time standards for the Scottish economy; and having a healthier workforce. PCS, the main civil service union, which is
The FNPR trade union confederation has stressed that any move towards a four-day working week has to ensure that pay levels are maintained. The confederation is aware of employers switching to a four- or even three-day week but with similar cuts in wages. However, the confederation believes that there is the need for a debate and for an examination of legislation with the 40-hour working week established in the constitution. The confederation wants to see a debate around changes to working time with the possibility of a 35- or 36-hour working week or changes to work schedules with the option
The ver.di services union has set out a range of demands to improve pay and working conditions in the promedica/Falck private ambulance service. Following a consultation with members and comparison with provisions in the public sector the union will be looking for improvements in basic (cut to 39 hours a week) and average (cut 44 hours a week) working time as well as higher overtime, night and shift allowances. The claim will also include a demand for 30 days’ annual leave from the first year of employment and up to six days’ additional leave for unsocial hours work. Ver.di had wanted to start
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
The GPA private services union is calling for the adoption of a four-day week across its sectors and will raise this in the upcoming autumn bargaining round. Noting the success of the four-day week in Iceland and the establishment of the right to a four-day week in the retail sector in Austria, the GPA argues that the employers need to see the positive impact on productivity, while workers will get the benefit of better work-life balance. The union also underlines the potential for the four-day week to impact on climate change through its effect on commuting patterns.
Local government union HK Kommunal has welcomed the decision by Solrød Municipality, south west of Copenhagen, to give their employees in administration the opportunity work a four-day week. Workers will have the choice whether they want to show up at the office, work from home or take a full day off. The only requirement is that they still have a working week of 37 hours. The municipality argues that it will help recruit and retain competent staff. The scheme starts from 1 September and will run over the next two years. The initiative follows that of the Odsherred Municipality, north west of
The CNE/CSC trade union has strongly criticised health sector employers for failing to sign five key collective agreements to improve working conditions. The agreements have been negotiated following the major social agreement signed last year which allocated more than EUR 1 billion to the sector. A new salary structure has been in place since 1 July in the federal health sectors and many health staff have seen a significant increase in pay, some over 10%. However, the employers have since failed to sign agreements covering stabilisation of work schedules and employment contracts (including
Health unions believe that a new agreement on flexible working will help create a better work-life balance for many employees and improve recruitment. However, they also underline the importance of increasing staffing levels to ensure that the agreement can be fully implemented. The new contractual terms will allow staff to: request flexible working from the start of their employment (removing the requirement to have six months’ service); make an unlimited number of applications for flexible working, instead of just one a year; submit applications without having to justify requests or provide
Municipal workers’ union Kommunal has welcomed new provisions in the crisis agreement negotiated with local and regional government employers. The agreement can be activated temporarily by the employers and was originally developed to deal with large forest fires but has been extended to any major crises such as floods, fires, electricity supply cuts or pandemics. The new agreement applies from 1 July and now limits how long an individual can be assigned to the agreement to ensure a proper recovery period. The main changes include: an employer may only activate the agreement if there is a need
The Fórsa public service union is urging its members to back the four-day week campaign by signing up to a global petition to encourage employers to pilot a four-day working week. The initiative seeks to identify and recruit employers to trial a shorter working week without loss of pay or productivity. The aim will be to reach out to employers identified with significant employee support and encourage them to join the global pilot in 2022. Participating employers will receive the support of experts from the four-day week organisation and university researchers from Harvard, Oxford and Boston
The ADEDY and GSEE public and private sector trade union confederations have continued their campaign to stop major changes to labour legislation. They are concerned that plans to deregulate the labour market will put the eight-hour day at risk and other measures will weaken the labour inspectorate. ADEDY reported high levels of support for its 24-hour strike on 16 June following earlier 24-hour action on 10 June. The GSEE followed up its 24-hour strike on 10 June with a four-hour action on the 16th.
Additional unpaid working time introduced as an austerity measure eight years ago continues to be a drain on morale and productivity across the civil and public service. That’s according to a report by the public service committee of the ICTU confederation. The report says the additional hours fall hardest on women, and are counterproductive in terms of service delivery and productivity. They remain “a deep and primary industrial relations grievance” among public servants, it says. In particular, the report argues not only that It has never been correct to assume that increased working time