2018 August epsucob@NEWS 15
IN THIS ISSUE
- UK: Industrial action blocked by anti-strike law
- Germany: Strikes resume over workloads
- Spain: Prison unions demand action over violence
- Italy: Union sets out priorities in meeting with minister
- Ireland: Strike action back on in social care sector
- Global: Call for global action on investment in care and decent work
- Europe: ETUC sets out collective bargaining priorities
- Europe: EPSU waits for European Commission response to legal challenge
- Finland: Union calls for childcare legislation to be redrafted
- Netherlands: Better pay and working conditions for maternity workers
- Sweden: Survey contrasts workers' views in care and construction sectors
- Europe: Overview shows wide variations in paternity and parental leave
- Germany: Positive wage trends in first half of 2018
- Greece: Union confederation raises key issues with finance minister
Aug. 01, 2018 A ballot for strike action carried out by civil service union PCS has produced a massive majority (86%) in favour of strike action over pay. However, the vote is invalid because of restrictions on public sector strike action introduced two years ago by the Conservative, centre-right government. Under the rules public service unions need to achieve a 50% turnout in the ballot and on this occasion it was 41.6%. This was the highest majority and highest turnout for a strike ballot in the union's history. PCS will use the high majority for action to strengthen its pay campaign. It is also considering legal action against the government over its refusal to allow electronic voting in strike ballots.
Aug. 01, 2018 Workers at university hospitals in Düsseldorf and Essen, members of the ver.di services union, have resumed their campaign of strike action over workloads. As reported in last month's epsucob@NEWS the union had decided to suspend strike action to allow further negotiations to take place with the employers. However, after four rounds of negotiations the employers failed to come up with any effective proposals to provide extra staff in wards, operating theatres or intensive care and so ver.di decided to lift the suspension of strike action.
Aug. 01, 2018 Prison workers' unions have organised half-hour protests across the prisons service on 2 August as part of their long-running campaign to get action to tackle violence against staff. With 934 violent assaults registered in 2015 and 2016, the unions say that urgent action is required and they want the new government to recognise the problem and to negotiate an agreement to address it. Inadequate staffing levels are a major element and the unions say the recent offer of additional employment is inadequate to deal with the estimated 3400 vacancies or the ageing of the workforce. However, the unions also point to other challenges such as the need to tackle mental health problems in prisons.
Aug. 01, 2018 The FP-CGIL trade union federation has met with public administration minister Giulia Bongiorno to set out four urgent priorities for action. These involve tackling precarious employment, increasing employment, negotiating the next collective agreement that will cover the years 2019-2021 and ensuring increased investment in staff training. The union argues that it is not enough to simply end the freeze on recruitment as more needs to be done to boost employment or run the risk of a further decline in the quality of services. FP-CGIL also wants a limit on health spending lifted to allow for extra staffing and a guarantee that the upcoming budget will include provisions to cover the costs related to any new collective agreement.
Aug. 01, 2018 The SIPTU general workers' union has announced strike action on 18 September for its members in the non-profit, social care sector. The union suspended action in February when it received a commitment from the government to negotiate on funding what are called Section 39 organisations that provide a range of social services. The union has been campaigning for pay restoration for its members in these organisations in line with the pay developments in the public sector. With the failure of the government to confirm it would increase funding even to allow a 1% pay increase as a first step in pay restoration, SIPTU decided that it had to revert to strike action. See epsucob@NEWS 10, May 2018 and earlier. Public services union Forsa also has members in Section 39 organisations and will be balloting its members over strike action.
Aug. 01, 2018 The ETUC has published the priorities for its Collective Bargaining and Wages Coordination Committee. These cover four main areas - (re)building and enhancing collective bargaining; pursuing upward wage and social convergence; combating in-work poverty, particularly through increasing wages for the lower paid; and increasing solidarity and reducing inequalities. The detailed policy document sets out how the ETUC will follow up on its Pay Rise campaign and includes provisions for a two-year project where the ETUC will aim to support initiatives at national level to boost sector-level bargaining.
Aug. 02, 2018 The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has produced a new report arguing for a doubling of investment in the care sector to prevent a global care crisis. It says that investment on this scale could create 269 million new jobs by 2030 and provide a major boost to women's employment while addressing massive gender inequality in unpaid care. The ILO estimates that over 600 million women want paid employment but are prevented from entering the labour market because of their caring responsibilities. The report underlines the need for a "high road" to increase care provision which means tackling the low pay and poor working conditions that characterise the sector.
Aug. 02, 2018 EPSU has launched a legal case against the European Commission and is now waiting for the first formal response. EPSU has taken the case because the Commission refused to submit to the European Council the information and consultation agreement signed in the Central Government Administrations social dialogue in December 2015. Despite signing the European Pillar of Social Rights and making positive statements about social dialogue, the Commission has failed to act to provide important rights to 9.8 million central government workers that are already enjoyed in the private sector. The complaint was filed in May and the main arguments have now been published in the Official Journal.
Aug. 02, 2018 The JHL public service union that represents 22000 workers in childcare has called for major changes to the draft law on early years education and care. The union argues that the proposals wrongly target changes in qualifications and employment structure in the sector rather than dealing with the fundamental issues of numbers of staff and staff:children ratios. The union warns that the suggested and unnecessary educational requirements will cause major employment problems in the sector.
Aug. 02, 2018 A new collective agreement covering 9000 maternity nurses has been agreed by the FNV and NU'91 unions with a 5.75% pay rise over two years along with 10% increases for those in their first and second years in order to make the sector more attractive to young workers. Pay will be increased in four stages: 1% (backdated to April 2018); 1.5% (October 2018); 1.5% (January 2019) and 1.75% (May 2019). There will also be an end to 24-hour on-call shifts and other measures are foreseen to reduce workloads and improve work-life balance. A committee will be set up to monitor compliance with the collective agreement.
Aug. 02, 2018 Municipal workers' union Kommunal is highlighting a new report that contrasts workers' views of pay and conditions in the female-dominated care sector with those of workers in the male-dominated construction sector. In a wide range of assessments the views of care workers are much more negative than their counterparts in construction. While more than half of care workers have thought about changing jobs this applies to only 38% in construction while only 33% think that staffing levels are adequate in the care sector compared to 60% in construction. Half of care workers wouldn't recommend their career compared only 25% in construction while 80% of care workers say their employers don't do enough to raise the status of the profession compared to 25% in construction. The report's findings are being discussed within the union which will take them up with employers and politicians.
Aug. 02, 2018 The European Commission has produced a short overview of paternity and parental leave provisions across EU countries revealing that, for example, paternity leave is available in nearly all member states but the length and level of compensation vary considerably. The draft directive on work-life balance proposes two weeks' paternity leave paid at the level of sick pay. While 17 member states already have the two-week minimum only 13 offer it on the basis of at least 66% of previous earnings.
Aug. 02, 2018 The trade union-linked research organisation WSI reports that negotiated pay increases across the economy reached 3.1% in the first half of the year, up on the 2.4% recorded in the comparable periods in the last two years. With inflation at 1.7% this means a real increase of 1.4%. The highest increases came in construction (5.2%), metal (4.0%) and the public sector (3.75%), with the last including 4% increases for new starters, lower paid and some specific occupations.
Aug. 02, 2018 The ADEDY public service confederation and health workers' union managed to secure a meeting with the Minister of Finance earlier this month and a commitment to further meetings. However, on one of the main issues of the meeting - extending the allowance for dangerous work to all sectors - the Minister didn't agree and suggested that some workers might see cuts in order to make the allowance available to others. In response to calls to increase the number of permanent staff and reduce flexible contracts the Minister acknowledged the problem of underfunding, particular in healthcare, and indicated that the confederation would be consulted on the allocation of EUR 3.5 billion. The unions remain concerned about the government's plans in the light of the recent bailout deal which they see as locking the country into long-term austerity.