Low pay/minimum wages
Feb. 28, 2019 A new analysis from the research organisation, the Living Wage Foundation, shows that over one million public service workers are paid less than the living wage - GBP 9.00 (EUR 10.50) an hour outside London and GBP 10.55 (EUR 12.30) in London. These figures are calculated by independent researchers and are higher than the official minimum wage. Public service union UNISON says that recent pay deals in health and local government have lifted minimum wage rates in collective agreements above the living wage but many workers employed by private contractors in care, catering and cleaning and other services are on lower rates. UNISON members at Liverpool's Women's Hospital took strike action on 25 February to secure higher pay while other contractors in the health service have committed to increase rates. Members of PCS working for contractors at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have also been on strike for higher pay.
Feb. 27, 2019 The FOA public services union has strongly criticised plans by Copenhagen City Council to cut DKK 47 million (EUR 6.3 million) from the cleaning budget in its children and youth administration services. The union says that 450 workers will be affected either with reduced hours (some going from 37 to 21 hours a week) and others facing redundancy. FOA argues that this is effectively increasing the working poor, with many workers facing the prospect of doing two, three or more jobs to make ends meet. The union also argues it will impact on cleaning quality and health and safety.
Feb. 15, 2019 The general strike on 13 February called by the three trade union confederations was strongly supported across the country. One of the main aims of the strike was to put pressure on the employers to come up with a better pay offer in the national cross-sector negotiations. However, the unions had a broader list of demands that also covered young workers, equality, pensions, public services, poverty and tax justice.
Feb. 14, 2019 National strike action across the public sector took place on 14-15 February as unions pushed the government to end its austerity measures that have taken a toll on public service workers. Unions in the FESAP federation took action over the two days while the Frente Comum group of unions joined on 15th. The unions have some common demands, particularly the urgent need to end the pay freeze and provide a pay increase for all public service workers. Other demands covered career progression, training and action to tackle precarious employment. EPSU sent solidarity messages.
Feb. 14, 2019 Workers at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, employed by the Aramark and Engie outsourcers, went on strike on 14 February in protest at low pay. Many of the cleaners, caterers, security and portering staff are on the official minimum wage (GBP 7.83 (EUR 8.90) for those aged 25 and over) but are demanding the unofficial living wage (GBP 10.55 an hour, EUR 12.00). Meanwhile, workers at the Historic Royal Palaces, including the Tower of London, took strike action on 6 February in protest at planned cuts to their pension scheme. The workers, members of the PCS and GMB trade unions, are planning further action on 16 and 21 February.
Jan. 30, 2019 The pay freeze and job cuts in the public sector have prompted action by some unions in February with the CGT taking strike action on the 5th and FO organising a week of action 3-10 February with a national demonstration on the 7th. Their principal demands focus on unfreezing pay, stopping the job cuts but there are also broader demands about the minimum wage and a fairer tax system. Fairness is also one of the factors behind the unions' joint call for strike action across the energy, water and waste company Veolia which employs 50000 workers in France. The CFDT, CFC, CFT and FO are calling for a general pay increase and higher minimum wages at the group's subsidiaries across the country and criticise the company for failing to protect employees' purchasing power and distributing company shares in a way that disproportionately benefits senior management.
Jan. 29, 2019 The three main trade union confederations - ACV/CSC, FGTB/ABVV, CGLSB/ACLVB - have called a general strike on 13 February to support their position in the cross-sector negotiations where the employers are refusing to negotiate on key issues and where a government re-calculation of data has produced a negotiating margin of only 0.8% for pay. The unions want to see action on early retirement provision, a minimum pension of EUR 1500 a month, an increase in pay in general as well as a push for a minimum wage of EUR 14 an hour. The other demands include equal pay for equal work and a strengthening of public services and better conditions for public service workers.
Jan. 29, 2019 The Frente Comum and FESAP federations of public service unions are planning national strike action on 15 February with FESAP unions also mobilising on the 14th. The unions have a broad range of demands on the government leading with the priority of ending the long-running pay freeze and tackling low pay. They also want government commitments on pensions, career progression and an end to precarious employment. The unions further underline the need to invest in quality public services rather than undermine them through privatisation.
Jan. 29, 2019 Home care workers employed by Birmingham City Council in Central England have mobilised for a rally on Tuesday 29 January supported by their union, Unison, and the TUC, the UK's single trade union confederation. The workers have taken over 50 days of strike action in their long-running dispute over plans by the Council to cut their working time. If the Council implements its plans then some workers will face poverty pay levels and cuts in annual salary of up to GBP 4000 (EUR 4600).
Dec. 05, 2018 The Pergam trade union confederation that includes many public sector unions joined the ZSSS confederation in a national demonstration in Ljubljana on 5 December. The protest was called in reaction to employer organisations' attacks on proposals to increase the minimum wage and threats to end sector collective bargaining. The action, taking place outside the head offices of a number of employer organisations, also called for a general pay increase for workers, recognising the problems of low pay and precarious employment.
Dec. 03, 2018 The ver.di services union has called on employers of all kinds across the eldercare sector to negotiate a sector agreement. The union argues that this is needed urgently to ensure better pay for eldercare workers and that they all are covered by a sector agreement whether they work for the private for profit, non-profit or public sectors. Ver.di has welcomed steps taken by non-profit welfare organisations to create an employers' organisation and argues that the next step is a sector agreement that will help improve the attractiveness of the sector and tackle staffing shortages. The union's collective bargaining committee will meet in January to set out the key elements of a sector agreement which is likely to follow the main public sector agreements.
Dec. 03, 2018 The STAL and STML trade unions that represent firefighters organised a national protest in Lisbon on 3 December to challenge the government over changes to the statutes that regulate pay and conditions in the sector. The trade unions had already registered their anger with the government over its failure to negotiate with them. The government did agree to meet the unions but they rejected its proposals for change because they threatened to undermine firefighters' pay, pensions and career progression.
Nov. 30, 2018 The GPA-djp and vida services unions have set out their list of demands in negotiations covering 100000 workers in the private healthcare sector. Along with a 6% pay rise (with minimum increase of EUR 150 to benefit the lower paid) the unions also want to see a reduction in hours to a standard 35-hour week without loss of pay and with additional jobs to maintain services. Other key demands include: avoiding split shifts, a sixth week of leave for all workers, earlier service to be taken into account, better pay for trainees and apprentices, part-time work for older workers and implementation of a key court ruling on travelling time.
Nov. 23, 2018 On 20 November the government announced compulsory arbitration to end a dispute between the NSF nurses' union and the NHO private employers' organisation. The union had called a strategic strike of 55 nurses on 25 October to protest against the NHO agreement having lower minimum pay and sickness benefit rates compared to the agreement negotiated with municipal employers. NSF has found examples of nurses' annual salaries in NHO employers that are NOK 30000-100000 (EUR 3200-10000) lower than in the public sector. After three weeks of strike action the NHO imposed a lockout on all 501 NSF members in NHO organisations prompting the government to intervene on the basis that the lockout posed a threat to patients' health.
Nov. 23, 2018 The ZSSS trade union confederation and Pergam public service federation have called a national demonstration in Ljubljana for 5 December with demands to protect and respect collective agreements, for higher pay and an increase in the minimum wage. In the meantime, negotiations continue over pay in the public sector. Three public sector unions look to have settled with the government but as many as 20 other unions are still considering the latest offer. If negotiations break down then the unions are expected to take strike action on 5 December.