Collective bargaining – trends and developments
Collective bargaining is a core activity of trade unions and EPSU’s affiliates negotiate with public service employers at every level. This can range from national public-sector wide bargaining to sector and local negotiations with public sector employers but also private and non-profit providers of public services. EPSU works with the European Trade Union Confederation to try to improve collective bargaining rights for all workers across Europe. We also act as a European information point so that EPSU affiliates are aware of trends in public service negotiations. EPSU’s collective bargaining newsletter provides regular updates on developments across Europe and this briefing gives an overview of the state of play in the main agreements in each country.
Services union ver.di and the BVAP social care employers’ organisation have signed a collective agreement for the first time covering eldercare. The agreement will set minimum standards for the sector with a 25% increase over three years taking minimum pay for trained nurses to EUR 3180 a month. There will be minimum pay rates for nursing assistants, those with one year’s training and qualified nurses beginning at EUR 12.30, EUR 13.10 and EUR 16.10 an hour respectively from 1 August 2021. This will then rise in three further stages on 1 January 2022, 1 January 2023 and 1 June 2023 to reach EUR
The three main trade union confederations have jointly refused to continue negotiations over the next two-year pay deal for the private sector. They argue that the pay formula that guides the negotiations leaves only 0.4% as a basis for salary increases. The unions point out that this would mean only a EUR 6.00 gross increase on the minimum wage and just EUR 9.00 for many jobs deemed to be essential during the pandemic. The unions say that the formula, set in 1996 and revised in 2017, is inappropriate for the current situation and fails to take account of the economic impact of the virus.
An independent review of the system of adult social care in Scotland has endorsed action on fair pay and called for the establishment of sector collective bargaining. The review has been welcomed by public services union UNISON which points out that the review highlights the structural challenges in the social care sector that inhibit workers ability to collectively bargain for improved pay and conditions. The union underlines the importance of better training, standards, pay and fair working conditions for improving the quality of care and as a boost to the economy.
Thirty-six representatives of EPSU affiliates from 17 countries took part in an online working group on 12 January to discuss the European Commission’s draft directive on adequate minimum wages. This was the third working group meeting following the launch of the Commission’s initiative in January 2020.
Last month, the leadership of the UPOZ trade union representing administration, judicial system and civil society organizations met with the minister for labour for the first time. Top of the agenda was the branch collective agreement with the union expressing concerns about its application and in particular a clause about the payment of a holiday allowance. However, the union also raised other issues in relation to the agreement and social dialogue, including its right to be consulted over the state budget. EPSU has written to the prime minister expressing support for UPOZ and calling on him
The Eurofound research agency has published a review on industrial relations developments across Europe in the period 2015-2019. It notes concerns in some sectors that social partner requests for implementation of their agreements through European legislation have been rejected, and that better links between EU and national levels are needed. It also argues that investing in social dialogue in ‘good times’ helps to ensure that it can be depended on in times of crisis. A review of first policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic shows that social partner involvement was generally more robust in
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has highlighted the growth in in-work poverty across Europe in support of its call for a strong and effective directive on minimum wages and collective bargaining. Sixteen countries saw the rate increase between 2010 and 2018 with Hungary, the UK, Estonia and Italy seeing the largest rises. The figures come from the latest annual ETUI/ETUC Benchmarking Working Europe 2020 report which also shows that just four member states have statutory minimum wages above the at-risk-of-poverty wage threshold. ETUC demands for the directive include a minimum