Getting to grips with digitalisation
Digitalisation has the potential to positively transform public services and the jobs of public service workers. Quicker and easier access to services and increased participation of citizens can be combined with better quality jobs as repetitive work is replaced with more fulfilling tasks. However, trade unions must be involved in the transformation process not just to ensure that workers have their fare share of the benefits of digitalisation but also to deal with the potential downside. This briefing, produced for EPSU's 2019 Congress, highlights some of the work done on this issue in recent years and sets out the current priorities.
In February this year, the Supreme Court in the UK ruled that Uber, the driving, and delivery platform, should treat its drivers as workers and not as self-employed. This follows a trend across Europe where courts in several countries have forced digital platforms to revise the employment relationship with the workers providing their services. Platform work is changing the economic and social landscape, revolutionising the way services are delivered while raising major questions about social and labour rights.
Public services union Fórsa has asked the government to open negotiations over an agreement on remote working. The union notes that there have been some positive outcomes from the recent increase in telework as a result of the pandemic, but an agreement is needed to regulate what could be a long-term shift in the organisation of work across the public sector. Fórsa has set out some key elements for the agreement which include, among others: agreed guidelines for identifying functions that can be performed remotely; fair access and the right to request remote work; right to decline remote work
After the surge in remote working as a result of the pandemic, trade unions in Ireland, Russia and Spain have welcomed new initiatives, including legislation and collective agreements, that regulate telework. Research by the Eurofound research agency also looks into the negative and positive implications of telework for workers’ autonomy and work-life balance raising again the challenges to ensure that workers have control over their working time and underlining the importance of current discussions at European level on the right to disconnect.
The ambiguous effects of telework In 2017, a joint report from the Eurofound research agency and the International Labour Organization observed that advances in digital technology were making it easier to work anytime and anywhere. The phenomenon of telework and mobile work has been increasing
A new law covering telework introduces important new rules for those involved in remote or home work as well as including a role for trade unions in ensuring workers’ rights. The protections cover dismissals, employer provision of equipment or requirement on the employer to compensate workers for using their equipment and clear rules to ensure that all worker consultations with the employer are during normal working time.
Negotiations for a new collective agreement covering the state sector will begin in mid-January and the FNV trade union has surveyed members to identify the main priorities. Over 80% of respondents said that it was important for the union to maintain its proposed claim for a 5% pay increase. The feeling was that this was necessary to cover cost of living increases and recruit and retain staff. Members were also keen on an allowance for working from home or support to cover any costs related to home working. Early retirement is also on the agenda while the FNV will be looking for measures to
The FSC-CCOO and FeSP-UGT public service federations have signed a new agreement on telework covering 2.5 million public sector employees. The agreement includes basic principles that telework arrangements should be voluntary and reversible and subject to key provisions relating to health and safety, equality, transparency and objectivity. The agreement protects employee rights as well as guaranteeing services for citizens. Other important elements include a right to disconnect, data protection and the right to privacy. The unions have called for negotiations at various levels of government to
ETUC Executive Committee discussed Minimum Wage, Digital Agenda and violation of information and consultation rights
The main debate in the ETUC Executive was about the response of the ETUC to the 2nd consultation of the European Commission on addressing the challenges for fair minimum wages.
Unions organising in state administration in both Spain and Portugal have raised serious concerns about the approach to telework and particularly governments taking the opportunity to regularise arrangements that were only adopted on an emergency basis. While there is recognition of the potential benefits to work-life balance, unions argue that fundamental issues need to be addressed through collective bargaining in relation to working time, the right to disconnect, provision of equipment, health and safety, training, contact with the workplace and the voluntary nature of the decision to
Progress with collective bargaining in the public sector has been affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Around 2.1 million workers are covered by the agreement for Federal and Municipal government which was last negotiated in 2018 and runs until 31 August this year. The trade union ver.di convened its collective bargaining committee earlier this month where it postponed the decision to formally give notice on the end of the agreement which would start negotiations. There will be an opening discussion with the VKA employers' organisation on 16 June and the collective bargaining committee will