Apr. 09, 2020 Seven trade union organisations have called on the government to urgently address the critical lack of personal protective equipment in health and social care. The unions also raise serious concerns about the threats of disciplinary action against workers who refuse to work in dangerous situations or who want to talk publicly about the lack of equipment. They want the government to work with the unions to tackle the crisis and to do this it needs to guarantee transparency on procurement, distribution, timescales and exactly how and when workers can expect to get the protection they need and deserve. Unions have also raised concerns that PPE supply to care homes is still inadequate following a government announcement that 8 million items had been distributed to the sector. Unions have also approached the government to launch a coordinated effort to use more manufacturing capacity to produce PPE.
Apr. 09, 2020 The FNV public service union wrote to the government on 7 April raising serious concerns about the situation in care homes with many lacking personal protective equipment (PPE). While many care workers face long hours, the union has also raised the issue of other workers seeing their hours cut. This arises if home care workers are asked to stay away by their clients and/or they cannot provide care because of lack of PPE. The FNV is clear that neither of these is the fault of the employee and so cuts in hours should be out of the question. It argues that many workers in this situation can be transferred to other work. The union has also announced that the collective agreement for the sector was declared generally binding on 8 April and so covers all employers in the sector, not just those who are members of the VVT employers' organisation. The FNV has raised similar issues in the health sector, again with concerns over PPE but also over the need to clarify health and safety protocols which are currently unclear as to what a worker should do if concerned about infecting or being infected by a patient. The FNV highlights the fact that many staff were already under pressure before the crisis and mental strains have only increased and that this needs to be recognised by the government. The union has called for improved pay and working conditions, a guarantee that funding will be maintained across the system and that all planned restructuring is put on hold.
Apr. 08, 2020 The impact of the crisis on health staff has been highlighted by public services trade unions as the evidence from the CFDT shows. The union is pushing for official recognition of COVID-19 as an occupational disease and for a fund to be set up to deal with the long-term effects. Trade unions are pushing hard for more personal protective equipment and the CGT has given a formal notice of potential strike action across the public services to allow its members to take action where they feel that there is a real threat to workers and citizens. Action has already been taken in the care sector, for example, by workers at a care home in Le Havre who have been overwhelmed by the catastrophic situation there. Meanwhile, the FO trade union has launched a general legal action challenging the failure to take adequate action to address the emergency and calling on those responsible to face up to the deaths and infections that have resulted. For UNSA, its calls for increased protection, particularly for health workers, have been echoed by the independent and influential Académie Nationale de Médecine.
Apr. 08, 2020 The public service union ver.di and care sector employers' organisation BVAP have agreed on a EUR 1500 payment for all care workers in recognition of the work they have been doing during the COVID-19 crisis. The payment will be made in July and part-time workers will get a proportional amount while trainees will get EUR 900. The payment will go to all nurses, carers and assistants working in long-term and home care and the aim is to make it generally binding and so covering also any commercial and other providers who are not members of BVAP. Ver.di and the employers are in the process of negotiating a collective agreement for the sector for the first time. Ver.di has also negotiated a short-time working agreement with the VKA municipal employers' organisation. While the threats of job and/or hours cuts are not affecting many public services, such as health, care, employment services and social security, others, such as sports and culture and local transport have been hit hard by closures and reduced activity. The agreement is effective from 1 April and runs until the end of the year. Most workers - those on pay grades 1-10, will get 95% of their take-home pay while those on the highest pay grade (11) will get 90%. Employers covered by the agreement will not be able to make any compulsory redundancies for the period short-time work and the following three months.
Mar. 05, 2020 The FOA trade union highlights figures from the VIVE research organisation that show massive variations in staffing levels in eldercare establishments across the country. The staff to resident ratio at night ranges from 1:8 to 1:41, while the evening shift ratio varies from 1:2.7 to 1:11. The variation of ratios on day shifts is less dramatic but still ranges from 1:1.4 to 1:4.2. FOA argues that the varying needs of residents can't account for such variations and that in many cases homes have failed to increase staffing to cope with the higher demands of older residents with health problems. The union is calling for national standards to tackle the problem.
Mar. 05, 2020 The UNISON, Unite and RCN health trade unions have voted to approve a new agreement on pay and staffing in Northern Ireland. The three unions were involved in various forms of industrial action at the end of last year, including the first full strike action in the RCN's history. The unions now have agreement that pay rates in Northern Ireland will be increased to be in line with those in England and measures will be discussed to increase staffing. A fourth union NIPSA did not support the pay deal but recognises that there was a majority vote in favour. In the meantime it is continuing its campaign around staffing levels, particularly in social services.
Mar. 05, 2020 The FESAP and Frente Comum federations of public sector trade unions are planning strike action on 20 March in protest at the pay increase implemented by the government which is worth only 0.3% for most workers. The FESAP federation is also planning a number of other initiatives including testimonies of individual workers about the difficulties they face as a result of the long-term pay freeze and low increases that they have suffered. These will be sent to the government. A national action is also planned for 19 March and conference on the future of the public service on 30 March.
Mar. 05, 2020 The SIPTU and Forsa trade unions organised strike action across publicly-funded (Section 39) health and social services organisations on 21 February as part of a long-running campaign to get workers' pay restored following the cuts that were implemented as part of austerity measures. Many of these workers do the same or similar jobs as directly employed public servants who have seen their pay restored. The threat of strike action lead to a deal for around 500 home care workers who suspended their action, but many other workers are continuing their campaign to try to secure an agreement.
Mar. 05, 2020 With many collective agreements now finalised in the private sector with a going rate of 3.3% over 25 months, attention is shifting to the public sector where unions are looking for higher pay deals for the lower paid and for health and care workers. TEHY and Super, the main unions representing health and social service workers are aiming for an additional 1.8% and a 10-year programme of increases above the average for the technology sector, which is seen as a key benchmark. The unions recognise that additional government funding will be needed to cover the pay increases. They also want a separate agreement to cover the 170000 health and social care workers that are currently part of the general municipal agreement.
Mar. 05, 2020 The vida and GPA-djp private services unions are planning further strike action and a national demonstration to keep up the pressure on health and social service employers to deliver on a 35-hour week. There have now been seven rounds of bargaining with the employers still failing to deliver an acceptable offer to the trade unions. The negotiations cover 125000 workers and vida and GPA-djp are calling for implementation of a 35-hour with no loss of pay and with appropriate increases in staffing. The national demonstration will take place on 10 March and next negotiations will be on 26 March.
Mar. 05, 2020 Members of the CNE and SETCA trade unions working at an eldercare home in Waterloo, south of Brussels, took strike action on 3 March to put pressure on management in advance of a conciliation meeting. The unions have been calling for action on staffing levels and say that currently employees are under so much pressure that they can only spend 16 minutes with each resident. Representatives of EPSU joined the picket. The home is run by the Orpea multinational and messages of solidarity were also sent from the ver.di union in Germany.