The Forsa public services union is arguing that the current public sector agreement needs to address cost-of-living increases and occupation and grade-specific claims. Recent pay rises have brought pay back to 2008 levels but don't take account of the 6% rise in prices while there is a range of demands from different groups of workers that have not been addressed in earlier negotiations. This is reflected in the current dispute involving nurses and midwives which is now being addressed in the Labour Court. The Court had ruled earlier in favour of a pay rise for nurses and midwives and other
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 FP-CGIL, CISL-FP and UIL-FPL public service federations are stepping up their mobilisation of members in private health care in response to the latest statement from the AIOP and ARIS employer organisations. It is now 12 years since the signing of the last collective agreement and the employers, whose member organisations have a combined turnover of around EUR 3.9 billion, have said that they will provide no money for pay increases. AIOP has said that renewing the agreement is a priority but the employers want any additional costs to be fully funded by the public sector.
The European Trade Union Institute has published updates on several countries in its Reforms Watch database. Latest news covers Greece (minimum wage), Slovenia (public sector pay), Portugal (strike activity) and Ireland (legislation to ban zero-hour contracts). There are also updates on Luxembourg, Malta, Belgium, Cyprus and Hungary.
The YS group of unions is looking for substantial real wage growth in this year's negotiations on pay. Its recent conference on wages highlighted the fact that while wages increased on average by 2.8% in 2018, this marked only a small increase in real terms as prices rose by 2.7%. In fact the union points out that on average wages in real terms are no different from five years ago and so with unemployment falling and a relatively positive outlook it is time for trade unions to push for higher wage growth.
The January issue of the European Trade Union Institute's Collective Bargaining newsletter includes over 70 articles covering more than 30 countries. This edition has several reports on developments in the public services, including action in prison services in Bulgaria, pay in the public sector in Slovenia and several stories on health and social care workers in Ireland, Italy, Malta and Poland.
The three main confederations - CGIL, CISL and UIL - organised a joint demonstration on 9 February to protest over government policies. They set out a broad range of demands including the creation of quality jobs, increased public and private investment, fair and equitable tax policies, a revaluation of pensions, measures to improve the provision of welfare, health, education and other public services and renewal of collective agreements in the public sector. EPSU sent a message of support.
On 7 February, the European Parliament, European Commission and European Council (national governments) reached an agreement on the proposed Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions Directive.
The three main trade union confederations - ACV/CSC, FGTB/ABVV, CGLSB/ACLVB - have called a general strike on 13 February to support their position in the cross-sector negotiations where the employers are refusing to negotiate on key issues and where a government re-calculation of data has produced a negotiating margin of only 0.8% for pay. The unions want to see action on early retirement provision, a minimum pension of EUR 1500 a month, an increase in pay in general as well as a push for a minimum wage of EUR 14 an hour. The other demands include equal pay for equal work and a strengthening
The latest collective bargaining newsletter from the European Trade Union Institute includes articles on all European Union member states and candidate countries and more. Among the public sector news items are reports of legislation in Latvia providing for 20% pay increases for health workers and a court victory in the UK for the FBU firefighters' union over changes to pension ages.
Following a meeting of the general negotiating group covering public administrations, the FSC-CCOO public services union criticised the government for failing to ensure consultation with the trade unions over the working conditions of three million public sector unions before publishing the budget. The union also called for action on the 35-hour week, an end to replacement rates in staff recruitment, a guarantee on the pay increase linked to economic growth, action on the gender pay gap and an extension of paternity leave across the public administration.
The CGIL, CSIL and UIL federations representing doctors, vets and hospital managers organised a national demonstration on 17 January to highlight the 10-year freeze on collective bargaining in the only public sector agreement that has not been renewed. The unions also complain of excessive working time and massive shortages of staff and now a change in the budget law that effectively blocks renegotiation of the collective agreement. The unions are planning a 24-hour strike on 25 January and further action in February.