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 ver.di services union is celebrating a major victory in Berlin where members in the health sector have been on strike for 31 days. Workers at the Charité university hospital, Vivantes clinics and their joint subsidiary, Labor Berlin, have now suspended the action, pending negotiations over new collective agreements. The key points in the new deal at the Charité hospital include more than 700 additional nursing staff to be hired over the next three years and there will be new benchmarks for staffing for specific wards such as intensive care units, operating theatres and central emergency
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.
On 28 September workers at seven university medical centres took strike action with only emergency services being maintained. This is the biggest ever action in academic hospitals which employ around 80000 workers. The FNV and CNV trade unions have rejected the employers’ latest offer which would have meant only a 1% pay rise and EUR 750 lump sum in a three-year agreement. They are calling for a 3% pay increase for each year and a minimum increase of EUR 75 a month as well as urgent action on workloads. The unions argue that excessive workloads are creating problems with increasing sickness
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 vpod/ssp public services union has launched an initiative to support its local activists in mobilising to win better pay and conditions for health workers across the country. The strike at the CHUV University Hospital in Lausanne was the starting signal for the union’s “Road to Strike” organizing campaign. Vpod/ssp argues that the situation in health establishments has worsened due to the pandemic with many workers facing burnout and leaving the sector. The persistent staffing shortages undermine working conditions and further pressures come from private health companies’ search for profit
The ver.di services union has called a three-day warning strike from 23 August in the hospitals in Berlin run by the regional government’s Charité group, including its Vivantes subsidiaries. The union gave the employer 100 days to initiate collective bargaining to tackle overwork by hospital employees and trainees and to bring pay in line with the public service collective agreement in all Vivantes subsidiaries. The strike will go ahead if the deadline of 20 August is missed. Ver.di says that Charité has failed to make any serious offer and it has called on the employer to conclude agreements