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.
The main item on the agenda was the response of the ETUC to the First Phase Consultation of Social Partners under Article 154 TFEU on a possible action addressing the challenges related to fair minimum wages.
The BSRB public employees' union joined with the BHM graduates' union and the nurses' union to discuss their collective bargaining strategy in a meeting on 31 January that was streamed to other meetings of local unions across the country. The unions say that after 10 months without progress since the last collective agreement formally expired they are losing their patience. Their message to state and local government negotiators was to return immediately to the bargaining table or the unions would look to take industrial action to get things moving.
With a national protest and strike action trade unions demonstrated their anger with the government's offer of what is effectively a 0.3% pay increase for public sector workers this year. Trade unions are calling for a significant increase after years of pay freezes and for a strengthening of collective bargaining.
Just over 90000 workers in the technology sector are set to see wages increase by 3.3% over the next two years. This is an important deal which sets the pace for other sectors in the upcoming round of collective bargaining. The agreement also sees the end of the 24 hours of extra unpaid work a year that unions reluctantly agreed to in 2016 in the competitiveness pact pushed by the then conservative government. The 3.3% will be paid in three stages, 1.3% this year and 1.4% next year with potential discretion given to shop stewards for how these are implemented at local level. The remaining 0.6%
Strike action organised by the JHL public services union was instrumental in maintaining the collective agreement covering around 1000 employees of the cleaning and catering company Arkea, owned by the City of Turku. The company had switched to another employers' organisation so that it could sign up to a different and inferior collective agreement. This would have meant employees suffering cuts in pay of 15%-30%. After strike action by the 1000 employees at Arkea, a second strike also involving local transport workers was organised. With the threat of a third strike the company agreed to
The main public service federations - FP-CGIL, CISL-FP, UIL-FPL and UIL-PA - organised a demonstration in Rome on 12 December as part of a period of agitation to put pressure on the government to guarantee funding for the renegotiation of collective agreements for 2019-2021. EPSU general secretary Jan Willem Goudriaan joined the demonstration. The unions want to ensure there is funding for adequate pay increases and for the introduction of a new job classfication system. They are also calling for an extraordinary recruitment plan to address the urgent staff shortages across many parts of the