On 13 July all nine trade union federations in the public service signed a new agreement on telework covering the whole of the public sector. The framework agreement requires employers across the three pillars of the public sector – local authorities, ministries and hospital services – to begin negotiations to implement the agreement at local level by 31 December this year. The agreement covers all the key issues relating to the voluntary nature and reversibility of telework, health and safety, gender equality, data security and privacy and working time and the right to disconnect. The
Getting to grips with digitalisation
Digitalisation has the potential to positively transform public services and the jobs of public service workers. Quicker and easier access to services and increased participation of citizens can be combined with better quality jobs as repetitive work is replaced with more fulfilling tasks. However, trade unions must be involved in the transformation process not just to ensure that workers have their fare share of the benefits of digitalisation but also to deal with the potential downside. This briefing, produced for EPSU's 2019 Congress, highlights some of the work done on this issue in recent years and sets out the current priorities.
The ver.di services union has negotiated a collective agreement on digitalisation that will cover 126000 workers in the federal government and come into effect on 1 January 2022. It will be applied whenever there are significant changes in workplace requirements or conditions as a result of digitalisation. The union argues that the agreement will allow workers to benefit from the digitalisation process while protecting them from possible risks. It includes mechanisms for securing jobs and providing necessary training while guaranteeing wages. Employees whose job effectively disappears as a
The Fórsa and SIPTU public service unions have welcomed the government’s new ‘Blended Working Policy Statement,’ which would see the civil service switch from pandemic-related remote working provisions to long-term ‘blended working’ arrangements between September 2021 and March 2022. However, both unions want to see a rapid roll-out across the entire public service, rather than being confined to Government departments and agencies. They also underline the importance of some of the statement’s key points such as the commitment to a consistent approach and to transparency and fairness on access
Unions representing staffing in provincial government, including FNV, have suspended negotiations following what they regard as an unacceptable pay offer from the employers of only 0.6%, with inflation currently at 1.9%. They have now launched a petition to get broad support from staff and get negotiations back on track. Noting that productivity has increased with a significant rise in telework, they are looking for a 2.5% pay increase, a fair homeworking allowance and measures on sustainable employability.
Trade unions representing workers in the public finance directorate (DGFiP) will be taking strike action on 10 May in protest at the continuing restructuring of the organisation and to defend workers’ rights and working conditions. The unions say that 30000 jobs have been cut since 2008 and a long-running process of restructuring has been carried out with digitalisation a key driver. They want a hold on restructuring and relocation and are concerned that the digital transformation and other changes are having a negative impact not just on the workforce but also on the quality of service. The
In February this year, the Supreme Court in the UK ruled that Uber, the driving, and delivery platform, should treat its drivers as workers and not as self-employed. This follows a trend across Europe where courts in several countries have forced digital platforms to revise the employment relationship with the workers providing their services. Platform work is changing the economic and social landscape, revolutionising the way services are delivered while raising major questions about social and labour rights.
Public services union Fórsa has asked the government to open negotiations over an agreement on remote working. The union notes that there have been some positive outcomes from the recent increase in telework as a result of the pandemic, but an agreement is needed to regulate what could be a long-term shift in the organisation of work across the public sector. Fórsa has set out some key elements for the agreement which include, among others: agreed guidelines for identifying functions that can be performed remotely; fair access and the right to request remote work; right to decline remote work
After the surge in remote working as a result of the pandemic, trade unions in Ireland, Russia and Spain have welcomed new initiatives, including legislation and collective agreements, that regulate telework. Research by the Eurofound research agency also looks into the negative and positive implications of telework for workers’ autonomy and work-life balance raising again the challenges to ensure that workers have control over their working time and underlining the importance of current discussions at European level on the right to disconnect.
The ambiguous effects of telework In 2017, a joint report from the Eurofound research agency and the International Labour Organization observed that advances in digital technology were making it easier to work anytime and anywhere. The phenomenon of telework and mobile work has been increasing
A new law covering telework introduces important new rules for those involved in remote or home work as well as including a role for trade unions in ensuring workers’ rights. The protections cover dismissals, employer provision of equipment or requirement on the employer to compensate workers for using their equipment and clear rules to ensure that all worker consultations with the employer are during normal working time.