Jul. 28, 2020 National trade union confederations are keeping the ETUC up-to-date with what trade unions and labour inspectorates are doing to ensure safety at the workplace in response to COVID-19 and, in particular, in relation to the return to work. In Austria, 20% of inspected workplaces have been told to improve their safety procedures while the Danish FH confederation reports some problems in private clinics and healthcare and it has taken action to ensure that health and social care facilities are fully part of the inspection regime. In Ireland more inspectors have been taken on to cope with increased demands while in Sweden and the UK unions have been involved in walkouts when faced with workplaces that don't meet the new safety standards. The other confederations reporting to the ETUC so far are ZSSS in Slovenia and the UGT in Spain. The information is being regularly updated.
Jul. 28, 2020 Data from the Wage Indicator pay database covering five countries reveals that many of the key workers who have been on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19 are on below)average wages. The research looked at nine jobs in childcare, call centres, retail, nursing, admin, logistics, warehouses and transport in the UK, German, Netherlands, France and Sweden. In the UK all occupations fell below the national average wage while in Germany it was all but one and in the Netherlands all but two. The situation for these workers was better in France and Sweden.
Jul. 15, 2020 The national nurses' association is threatening strike action if the government doesn't agree to talks to address serious understaffing and low pay. The union says that there was already a shortfall of 1500 nurses before the COVID-19 pandemic and the situation has seriously deteriorated as the country has been hit by a second wave. Infection of health staff is increasing with around 1000 nurses now in quarantine while those at work are facing increasing workloads, long working houjs and greater stress. The government has promised some additional funding but the union wants to see urgent action taken, including the recruitment of around 1500 recently qualified nurses and measures to address longstanding issues of low pay.
Jul. 15, 2020 The German subsidiary of the Veolia environmental services multinational has agreed to set up a €1 million pandemic fund after negotiations with the ver.di trade union. The fund will be available until the end of 2020 and will provide financial support of up to €10000 to workers who have been affected by COVID-19. The employees who could benefit include workers with children under 12 who can't find childcare, single parents, workers with other care responsibilities and who have been through family bereavements. The company implemented a short-time working agreement and topped up the funding from the government but is aware that some workers, particularly those on the minimum wage for the sector, have been hard hit.
Jul. 13, 2020 Portuguese health workers are the latest to get a bonus (50% of basic pay) for their work in working in the emergency situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Netherlands all care workers get €1000 while in Germany so far it has only been workers in eldercare who get a €1500 payment. In Belgium, some health workers are getting €300 while workers in private health and social care in Austria received €500, the same as frontline staff in Bulgaria. In the UK all care workers in Wales have received a payment of €570. In contrast to these lump sums, the COVID-19 payments for health staff in the Czech Republic are additional payments per hours ranging from €3.70, to €18.50 and €55.30 depending on their level of exposure to risk. In Sweden, an agreement on emergency work was already in place before COVID-19 hit and this meant that health workers could get additional payments of 120% of their hourly rate, rising to 150% for overtime hours.
Jul. 13, 2020 The main municipal unions in the Nordic region - Fagforbundet (Norway), Kommunal (Sweden), JHL (Finland) and FOA (Denmark) - have called on government and municipal employers to work together with unions to tackle the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. They argue that local and regional authorities need the finance to maintain jobs as well as the pay and condition of the municipal workforce and that these will be crucial to the economic recovery. The unions stress above all that austerity cannot be the answer and that the contribution of municipal workers should be recognised with funding for wage settlements and the services they provide.
Jul. 13, 2020 Vision and Kommunal, the trade unions representing workers and managers in eldercare, have issued a joint call for action on working conditions and work organisation to address the long-standing problems in the sector that have been highlighted by the COVID-19 crisis. The unions underline the importance of continuity of care that they say is best delivered through a stable base of long-term and full-time employment. They have set a target of increasing the proportion of permanent employees to 90 percent. They also want to see a benchmark of 25 employees per manager in the elderly care to help improve the working environment along with collaboration to create a safe and healthy work environment.
Jul. 10, 2020 Fourteen trade unions that organise workers right across the National Health Service have sent joint letters to the prime minister and chancellor (finance minister) calling for quick action to agree a pay rise for all health workers. The unions argue that the public want to see health workers properly valued and rewarded and that a decent pay rise would be a step in the right direction. The unions don't want a simple COVID-19 bonus but a pay rise that will help retain and recruit staff and address the falling purchasing power of health workers who have seen pay frozen or capped below inflation over the past 10 years. The unions are also clear that all support staff should be covered as well as those employed by private contractors.
Jul. 10, 2020 Public services union Fórsa believes that working time should be an important element of any discussion around telework/remote working. The union is preparing a response to a government consultation on remote working as well as a guide for negotiators. It is estimated that up to a third of employees in Ireland were remote working at the height of the COVID-19 emergency and the union now wants to ensure that conditions for telework are fully negotiated with proper safeguards and that emergency arrangements are not simply made permanent.
Jul. 10, 2020 The SINTAP trade union has welcomed the payment of a COVID-19 bonus for health workers who have been involved in treating infected patients. It is a lump sum worth 50% of basic pay. Workers will also get an extra day of leave for every 80 hours they have worked during the emergency and a further day of leave for every 48 hours of overtime worked during the same period. The union has, however, called for the bonus to be extended to other groups of workers. Meanwhile the SEP nurses' union has secured changes for nurses which ensure firstly that if infected with COVID-19 this is assumed to be work-related and so nurses don't have to prove the causal link. They will also get 100% sick pay rather than 70%.
Jul. 09, 2020
Statement on Covid-19 and its aftermath by EU social partners in central governments: investing in public sector staff
Social partners for central government administrations -EUPAE, on the employers’ side representing 18 EU governments and TUNED, for the trade unions led by EPSU- reached a joint statement on Covid-19 and its aftermath, following an online meeting on 26 June 2020.