2017 June epsucob@NEWS 10
Jun. 08, 2017 (June 2017) Embassy, tourist office and other international staff around the world are taking strike action to secure pay rises and end a long-term pay freeze that has seen wages in some countries fall to below national minima. Unions are looking for a 20% pay increase, arguing that in some countries inflation has meant a 40% loss of purchasing power for some workers. Action has taken place or is planned in several countries including Canada, Sweden, the United States and Argentina.
Jun. 08, 2017 (June 2017) Public services union ver.di has called on the minister for youth and families to launch a major national initiative to extend and improve training for childcare workers. The union argues that this is needed to ensure that enough well-trained staff are available to cope with the planned increase of 100000 kindergarten places. The union also wants to see national action in relation to staffing levels to address the problem that the availability and quality of early years education can vary significantly from region to region.
Jun. 08, 2017 (June 2017) Details are emerging of the latest stage in negotiations between public sector unions and the government as they begin to unwind the austerity pay arrangements that saw pay cut and frozen and workers paying a pensions levy. The latest proposals are for a three-year deal running from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2020. There will be several pay increases over the period plus changes to the salary thresholds for the pensions levy. If agreed the deal would mean, for example, that a worker on EUR 30000 or less would be 7.4% better off by 2020.
Jun. 08, 2017 (June 2017) The three main public serivce federations, FP-CGIL, CISL-FP and UIL-FPL, have welcomed proposals to increase funding for provincial and city authorities following their protests last month. However, they say that it falls well short of what is needed to invest in infrastructure, schools and cover salary increases. For 2017 alone estimates put the funding shortfall at over EUR 600m when the government has increase provisions to only EUR 170 million. The unions say they will continue to mobilise and campaign for the increased funding.
Jun. 08, 2017 (June 2017) The NSF nurses' union is supporting a strike of its members at the Cancer Society. The union wants to defend its members' pay and conditions and the right to strike in the face of changes introduced by the Cancer Society when it switched its membership to the NHO employers' organisation. The NSF argues that not only does this mean a worsening of the pay and conditions of nurses but gives the Society the right to unilaterally terminate an agreement. The strike is getting widespread support from trade unions and other bodies, including pensioner organisations. EPSU sent a message of support when it met a delegation of the NSF on 14-15 June.
Jun. 08, 2017 (June 2017) An interview with a member of a Commission appointed by the Greek government and the Troika provides an overview of the massive negative impact of reforms on the collective bargaining system and the continuing pressure for reforms, particularly coming from the International Monetary Fund, that flies in the face of the position of the Greek government, trade unions and employers.
Jun. 08, 2017 (June 2017) Employees of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have been taking strike action as part of a rolling campaign that has covered offices in Glasgow, Cardiff and, in the latest stage, Manchester. The strikes are in protest at budget and job cuts in the organisation as well as staff dismissals. The main union involved, PCS, has said that it is astonishing that the EHRC hasn't even carried out an equality impact assessment of the job cuts. Film director Ken Loach has sent his solidarity greetings to the strikers.
Jun. 08, 2017 (June 2017) Public sector workers get a 6% pay rise this year and the same again next year, if the current economic climate is maintained. This agreement was promoted by the KOZ confederation and picked up by the ETUC Pay Rise campaign which also reported on the push for a higher minimum wage in the country.
Jun. 08, 2017 (June 2017) A new report from the CBS statistics office highlights three key trends in the labour market reflecting greater inequality and less security. Overall the percentage of workers on permanent contracts has fallen from 71% to 61% while the labour market is becoming more divided between low-paid, low-skilled jobs and high-paid work, with few jobs in the middle. The report also found more young people and those with basic education are stuck in low-paid jobs with little autonomy or security.
Jun. 08, 2017 (June 2017) The IPSO trade union that organises staff at the European Central Bank (ECB) mobilised staff for a demonstration on 7 June in protest at the ECB's long-term use of temporary contracts for staff doing permanent work. IPSO has been pushing for some time now for the Bank to end this practice where some workers have been employed for over five years, in some cases over 10 years, on renewed contracts. In the latest action IPSO also raised objections to the ECB's plans to outsource some services, starting with IT. EPSU sent a message of support.
Jun. 08, 2017 (June 2017) The HK Kommunal municipal union is organising a conference in September that will provide library workers with a chance to discuss the developing trends in the sector and the changing demands and expectations on libraries. An important focus of the conference will be on personal and professional development and career opportunities.
Jun. 08, 2017 (June 2017) The ETF European federation for transport workers has reacted angrily to recommendatoins from the European Commission in its "Open and connected Europe" document on the so-called service continuity, including measures affecting the right to strike of air traffic control staff. The federation believes the measures infringe the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and says it reserves the right to challenge them in the European Court of Justice. The ETF is also highly critical of the mobility package launched by the European Commission last month, arguing against dangerous proposals on rest time which threaten to increase fatigue among drivers and increase risks of accidents.
Jun. 08, 2017 (June 2017) The three main confederations have expressed their concern over some of the elements of the new government's proposals for reforming labour law. The details won't be published until the end of June but already the unions have raised issues with plans to rebalance collective bargaiing towards the company level, reform workplace representation and reduce compensation for redundancy. They argue that they see little in the proposals to benefit workers and remain unconvinced that reducing employment protection will boost job creation. A process of consultation is planned for the summer period but the government aims to have the legislation place by September.
Jun. 08, 2017 (June 2017) The Kommunal municipal services union has signed five agreements with municipal companies represented by the KFS employers' organisation. The agreements cover care, consultancies, real estate and business and museums and archaeological activities. They follow the main trend of a 6.5% pay increase spread over three years with the care agreement including additional increases for nurses, as did the main municipal agreement.
Jun. 08, 2017 (June 2017) The vpod public services union has called for an end to internships in childcare and additional funding to ensure a proper provision of training in the sector. The union argues that many employers exploit the intern system to keep staff costs down while there is evidence that many workers who start on internships as a step towards a proper traineeship are disappointed as too few training places are available. While some authorities and employers have tried to regulate internships, vpod argues that they should be abolished completely.