2020 EPSU Collective Bargaining News July no.14
IN THIS ISSUE
- Belgium: Unions secure €1 billion for health workers' pay and conditions
- Spain: Unions challenge government to implement agreements
- Austria: Unions make progress with "health offensive" campaign
- Portugal: COVID-19 benefits for health workers
- Ireland: Union wants working time to feature in telework debate
- UK: Health unions come together to call for early pay settlement
- Netherlands: 5% for library workers but no agreement in central government
- Sweden: Unions make joint call for change in eldercare
- Denmark: Union warns of eldercare staffing crisis
- Nordic: Nordic unions coordinate their anti-austerity message
- France: Mixed reaction to proposals on pay and jobs in health and social care
- Europe: Round-up of COVID-19 bonuses
- Germany: Company agrees special pandemic fund
- Israel: Nurses threaten national strike over understaffing and low pay
Jul. 09, 2020 After a lengthy campaign of protests and industrial action, unions have secured an additional €1 billion in funding from the federal government to improve pay and conditions for health workers. €500 million will go towards the implementation of a new pay system and harmonisation of pay in the private and public sectors. Unions estimate this will mean pay increases of 5%-6%. €400 million will cover additional staff to ensure a better staff/patient ratio and 10% of this amount will contribute to improved training. €100 million is allocated to improving working conditions, including in particular more permanent contracts and more hours for part-time workers. There will also be new rights to take three consecutive weeks of annual leave, a right to training in general but also for workers' reps and other measures covering pensions and action to reduce burnout. While unions have welcomed this initiative covering services funded at federal level, campaigning continues to put pressure on the other levels of government that are responsible for other health and social services.
Jul. 10, 2020 The FSC-CCOO and FeSP-UGT have taken the government to task over the failure to implement a series of agreements. Around 200 FSC-CCOO activists protested outside the public services directorate on 9 July over employment, equality and, pay and other issues. The union wants action over jobs to make up some of the 43,000 that have been cut over the past 10 years. They also highlight the failure to properly implement equality plans and are calling for last year's agreement on pay to be put into effect to partially compensate for the 14% fall in purchasing power since austerity measures were in force. Staff in state museums are due to strike on 19 and 26 July over these issues. Meanwhile, the FeSP-UGT federation has highlighted the government's failure to reduce temporary employment which has risen from just under 17% to nearly 21% over the past four years but is much higher in some parts of the public services such as healthcare where it tops 46%.
Jul. 10, 2020 Public and private sector health unions (younion, GÖD, vida and GPA-djp) have joined with the chamber of labour and chamber of doctors in a campaign - "health offensive". The aim is to achieve major change across the health and long-term care sectors and tackle some of the long-standing issues of understaffing and overwork that have been exposed by the impact of COVID-19. The unions have managed to establish a structured dialogue with the health ministry to address seven key issues - staffing, working conditions, training, career development, investment and ensuring service provision.
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. 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 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 Workers in public libraries are set to get a 5% pay increase in a new collective agreement running from 1 July 2020 to 1 July 2021. A 3% pay rise will be backdated to 1 January and a further 2% increase will follow in January 2021. There will also be an overtime bonus for part-time workers, abolition of youth pay rates and limits on use of temporary contracts. However, the additional payment for Sunday work will be reduced and unions are unhappy about limited notice of rosters. Meanwhile unions have rejected a pay offer for central government workers arguing that a 0.7% pay increase and € 225 lump sum payment are inadequate recognition of the services provided by workers, particularly in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
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. 13, 2020 The FOA trade union has called for urgent action to address training and recruitment in eldercare. It quotes a new report revealing a sharp decline in the numbers of people being trained to work in the sector. It was already forecast that there would be a staffing shortage of around 40000 by 2028 but the figures on training - a decline of 36% in the number of young people on training courses - suggest an even greater shortage. The government has agreed to a request by FOA to convene a summit of politicians, employers and unions to debate how to tackle the problem.
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 Health and social care unions have reacted differently to the government's €7.5 billion package on pay and jobs. The CFDT has welcomed the proposals that it says will mean a €90 net increase a month for most health workers from September with a further €93 increase from March 2021. On top of this a working group will be set up to look at revaluating pay for certain occupations which will be implemented in January 2022. The lowest paid workers in the sector, currently on the minimum wage should see their pay increase by 15%. Around 8000 jobs will be created and 7300 vacancies filled. The FO trade union is supporting the proposal on the basis that it is a first step in the right direction. The CGT is disappointed by the package particularly because it says does not go far enough to address the problem of proper compensation for long working hours with nothing offered in relation to on-call and overtime, nor anything extra for night, weekend and holiday work. The union has called for support for a demonstration already planned for 14 July and warns that further resignations of health staff were likely and will only add to the pressure on services.
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. 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. 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.