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
More than 12,000 members of the DSR nursing union took part in a consultation over what should be the main demands in the upcoming collective bargaining negotiations in the public sector. The DSR has selected the main elements focusing on higher pay and better protection of leisure time. The union will aim for as large a percentage wage increase as possible that would recognise the large increase in workload and demands for flexibility during the pandemic and the need to recruit and retain health staff. The DSR recognises, however, the pressure on public finances and the impact of the formula
The FNV and NU'91 trade unions have negotiated a new collective agreement that provides for a 3% pay increase for workers in maternity care. The last collective agreement actually expired on 1 January this year but bargaining has been difficult not just because of the COVID-19 pandemic but also because the unions are looking for key improvements on work-life balance and on-call time which the employers are reluctant to agree. As a result the agreement is only for this calendar year. It also includes a 1.5% increase on the end-of-year bonus taking from 6.2% to 7.7% of salary and there is a one
The Kommunal municipal workers’ union has submitted its claims for this year’s delayed negotiations with the SKR and Sobona employer organisations. The union is underlining that its key demands on pay, working hours and other conditions are fundamental to recognise the efforts made by local and regional government workers and health and social care staff in dealing with last year’s fires and the current pandemic. Kommunal is calling for a 3% pay rise for all workers with an additional 0.5% distributed locally to vocationally trained groups in health care, schools and care. The agreement should
The Fp Cgil, Cisl Fp and Uil Fpl public service federations have finalised a new collective agreement covering around 15000 managers in local and regional government and the health service. The agreement covers the period 2016-2018 and includes a pay rise of 3.48% which follows the other public sector agreements for that period. Apart from pay, there are provisions covering trade union relations, work-life balance and leave arrangements, including support for women who are victims of violence. The agreement also establishes a joint body to look at innovation and service improvement and there
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.
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
Unions organising in state administration in both Spain and Portugal have raised serious concerns about the approach to telework and particularly governments taking the opportunity to regularise arrangements that were only adopted on an emergency basis. While there is recognition of the potential benefits to work-life balance, unions argue that fundamental issues need to be addressed through collective bargaining in relation to working time, the right to disconnect, provision of equipment, health and safety, training, contact with the workplace and the voluntary nature of the decision to
The FeSP-UGT public service federation has sent a number of key demands to the public service ministry for a new agreement covering public sector workers. The union wants action on improving employment conditions and reducing precarious employment but also has a number of specific proposals on telework, noting that the estimated impact of COVID-19 has been an increase from 26,000 to more than 450,000 public employees doing telework. Among the key demands are action to balance security and flexibility with increased productivity; voluntary nature of telework; equality of rights with other
The collective agreement covering workers providing disability care has new elements to improve work-life balance. There is an annual hours system based on a 36-hour week for a full-time worker. This alllows for flexibility to help address peaks and troughs in the service but on the basis that employers have to abide by clear rules in both the collective agreement and legislation. Workers in the sector can also now look to the collective agreement to assert their right not to be contactable during their time off. The FNV trade union sees this as an essential measure to tackle increasing stress
The Social Dialogue Committee for central/federal governments approved the checklist of dos and don’ts on digitalisation and work/life balance, the key outcome of a two-year EC funded project.
Unions in Norway and Sweden have put the focus on green issues in their current and planned negotiations with church employers. In Norway there is a commitment to address sustainability issues with the Norwegian church in an agreement that also includes measures to ensure a working environment that promotes health and also initiatives to reduce sickness absence. Meanwhile, in Sweden upcoming negotiations will include green measures along with a focus on a clearer process of pay determination and increased control over working time to improve work-life balance.