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 International Labour Organisation has produced a new report that examines the scope of collective bargaining in public administration. Along with specific country examples, including Denmark and Spain, from Europe, the report looks at recent developments and the extent to which collective bargaining covers issues such as information and consultation, dispute resolution measures, facilities for trade unions, gender equality and decent work. As one of the conclusions the report notes that fewer and fewer governments are excluding pay from collective bargaining.
The Sanitas health trade union has managed to negotiate a collective agreement in the sector despite the strict representative rules that make it extremely difficult to negotiate sector deals in Romania. The agreement confirms many of the rights the union has won over the years and ensures that they apply uniformly across the country. Among the most important elements are holiday entitlement (21-30 days depending on length of service), the role of the trade union in personnel policy, collective redundancies and disciplinary procedures and measures to support nurses' further education and
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has just produced a report emphasising the role that collective bargaining can play in meeting new labour market challenges. The report highlights the positive role that collective bargaining, particularly coordinated bargaining, can play in reducing inequality and supporting economic growth. It notes that some adaptation is required, particularly action to reduce the number of non-standard workers who are not covered by collective agreements. The report also argues that "state regulations need to leave space for collective
The latest issue of the ETUI's collective bargaining newsletter covers as usual all EU Member States and more with over 65 articles including news from Croatia where the government has backed down from increasing the retirement age from 65 to 67 after a union campaign. There are also news items covering strikes in Greece and Hungary, action by youth workers in the Netherlands and an initiative on lifelong learning to support energy workers in Estonia.
The JHL public services union says that it will aim to negotiate pay increases for lower paid workers that are higher than those in industry as a step towards reducing the pay gap between the sectors. It says this is essential to tackle low pay in sectors dominated by women. It also wants the 24 hours of extra unpaid work introduced in the Competitiveness Pact to be paid or cut while measures on carers' and paternity leave will also feature in the next bargaining round. The union carried out a survey of 8000 members to help it plan its priorities and gauge support for industrial action.
Campaigning for the right to water, negotiating on information and consultation rights for central government workers, lobbying for tougher action on tax avoidance and fraud, standing up to multinationals and defending dismissed or imprisoned trade unionists … these are just some of the many
Health unions have managed to ensure that the government will honour the current collective agreement that commited it to pay increases of 3% and 4% this year. The unions were forced to organise a high-profile national campaign - "5 to midnight" - when the government indicated it would not implement the increases. The campaign highlighted the state of the health service, understaffing and overwork and the need to recognise health workers' commitment. The unions are now looking forward to the start of the next pay negotiations and will continue their campaign on the need to invest in the health