This year’s Country Specific Recommendations represent another missed opportunity to give the European economy a boost with a significant increase in public investment.
Low pay/minimum wages
May. 23, 2017
May. 11, 2017 (May 2017) The vpod public services union has highlighted the problem of gender pay inequality across occupations, noting that lower pay in occupations dominated by women, like care, cannot be justified on a gender-neutral basis and that they are the result of specific historical developments. The union cites new research from Essen University in Germany and argues that legislation that currently requires action by employers with over 50 employees should be amended to provide for an evaluation of occupational groups.
May. 09, 2017 (May 2017) The OSZSP health and social services union has launched a campaign to improve pay in the social services sector under the slogan "end cheap labour". The union has already had a meeting with the government where it highlighted staff shortages, excessive workloads and very low pay with some on as little as CZK 12000 a month (EUR 450). The union stresses that staff shortages are set to become more urgent as workers in the sector retire and there is increased demand from an older population.
Apr. 14, 2017 (April 2017) Municipal workers' union Kommunal has negotiated a year's extension to the three-year agreement which it negotiated last year with the SKL local government employers' organisation. The agreement provided for additional increases for nursing assistants and nurses as part of a strategy to close the gender pay gap. The basic increases in each of the four years 2016-2019 are SEK 520 (EUR 54), 530 (EUR 55), 535 (EUR 55.5) and 540 (EUR 56) while in the first and second years nursing assistants get 1020 (EUR 105) and 710 (EUR 75) while the third year includes 685 (EUR 70) for nurses. The fourth year provides for an additional 0.3% on top of the SEK 540.
Apr. 05, 2017 (April 2017) The BDDSz childcare workers' trade union is supporting the ETUC's pay rise campaign. The union sees that many of the headline demands of the campaign - tackling low pay and the gender pay gap - fit with the union's priorities and it is encouraging members to show their support.
Apr. 05, 2017 (April 2017) Beginning this month the municipal services union Kommunal will be investigating the employment and working conditions of cleaners, looking at their employment status, working hours as well as health and safety problems. The union will carry out a survey as well as making workplace visits to talk to workers and assess how they are affected by what are often seen as the main problems facing the sector - the impact of privatisation, lack of control over work - but also good examples where workers do have more control over working time and other working conditions.
Mar. 21, 2017 (March 2017 ) The vpod public services union has a special network set up four years ago campaigning for better protection for migrant care workers. The union argues that the federal government is well aware of the level of exploitation of this group of workers but has failed to take any measures to regulate this area of work. Recent press reports have highlighted the situation facing care workers and the lack of legal protection.
Mar. 21, 2017 (March 2017) The annual benchmarking report from the European Trade Union Institute provides an overview of latest developments in wages and collective bargaining. It notes a trend towards higher real wages, particularly in central and Eastern Europe, mainly as a result of low inflation. There has also been growth in minimum wages but most are still at a very low level. It also found that the decline in collective bargaining coverage continued and was very pronounced in southern and eastern European countries.
Mar. 21, 2017 (March 2017) Unions organising workers in the non-profit social services came together in a major demonstration in Brussels on 21 March. The unions want to see urgent action to tackle major problems facing the sector - poor pay, understaffing and excessive workloads leading to burnout for many workers trying to maintain services in impossible conditions. The unions want to negotiate a new agreement for the sector which addresses pay and working conditions but they also underline the link between quality employment and delivery of quality services. EPSU sent a message of solidarity.
Mar. 21, 2017 (March 2017) Public services union JHL is calling for an extra pay increase for sectors dominated by women. The union chair Päivi Niemi-Laine said:"We need a separate round on top of the general increase. Women-dominated sectors have been kept in check and now we have to ensure that purchasing power remains strong in women-led fields." The union argues that action needs to be taken to address the persistent gender pay gap and that public salaries are being effectively cut by a decision to reduce holiday pay as part of the competitiveness deal negotiated last year.
Mar. 01, 2017 (March 2017) A new report, produced jointly by the European Commission and the International Labour Organisation, shows that European countries with coordinated bargaining systems have managed to prevent the growth of inequalities on the labour market. At the same time the erosion of collective bargaining in other EU member states has led to more low-paid jobs or increasing inequality among the workforce. The report also looks at a range of other inequalities such as in working time, training etc.
Feb. 27, 2017 (March 2017) After years of campaigning, workers in social care might see some respite from the race to the bottom on contract costs and pay. The government has approved an order in council that requires municipalities to adopt fair and equitable rates for home care. This should end the situation where local authorities were issuing tenders which providers could only meet by cutting costs and for workers this meant either losing their job or seeing a massive cut in pay.