Prisons Services, Women & Gender Equality, Economic Policy, Europe, Belgium
(March 2017) Marking International Women's Day with a focus on the gender pay gap, both EPSU and the ETUC underlined the need for urgent action to deliver pay rises across Europe with a particular emphasis on higher increases for sectors and occupations dominated by women. Flat-rate increases, job evaluation and other measures were highlighted as part of the strategy to address the gender pay gap and low pay among women workers.
In a joint press release the ETUC and EPSU underlined the need for urgent action to tackle the gender pay gap. They were reacting to the publication of the European Commission's Action Plan which addresses eight core themes: improving the application of the equal pay principle; combating segregation in occupations and sectors; initiatives to deal with vertical segregation; reducing the care penalty; better valorizing women's skills, efforts and responsibilities; exposing inequalities and stereotypes; informing about the gender pay gap and enhancing partnerships.
Prison staff unions in Belgium, France and Spain have been taking or are planning industrial action or demonstrations over staffing and pay. In France, the unions have raised concerns about prison overcrowding, violence against staff, the need for a significant increase in prison officer numbers and improvements to pay and conditions. After failing to get a satisfactory response from the justice ministry, the unions are calling for an extension of the action across the country. In Belgium, the issue is the failure of the government to adhere to a 2016 agreement on staffing levels and further
The Eurofound research agency has published a new report that analyses how gender pay audits have been implemented in four countries - Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. It is based on company-level gender pay reports and reveals that there have been mixed results in terms of compliance, in the initial phase. It also highlights room for improvement in engaging employee representatives and in raising employees’ awareness.
A new report commissioned by EPSU provides an update of trends in the gender pay gap in the public services between 2010 and 2016. While the overall gender pay gap was only 0.3 percentage points lower across the whole economy and 1.6 percentage points lower in the business sector at the end of the period, it fell by 1.9 percentage points in education, 2.2 percentage points in health and social work and 2.3 percentage points in public administration. The overall pay gap was 14.9% across the whole economy in 2016 compared to 10.7% in education, 17.9% in health and social work and 9.4% in public
The ETUC has called for swift adoption of the draft directive on work-life balance as a key measure that will make a real difference to women's pay and employment prospects. According to the ETUC the Directive would strengthen rights in many member states. For example paid paternity leave of 10 days would be new in Austria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Croatia, and Slovakia, while four months' paid and non-transferable parental leave would improve rights in Bulgaria, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK. Measures on carers' lave and the right to request flexible working arrangements
Many prison workers across Europe are facing longstanding problems of understaffing, overcrowding and, as a result, significantly increased risks of violence. These were common to three country case studies carried out for EPSU by researchers at the HIVA research unit at Leuven University. In the UK, Italy and Greece the situation of prison workers had deteriorated in recent years with the prison service in Greece in particular having faced the deep cuts to funding and workers' pay imposed across the whole of the public sector. While Sweden presented a contrasting case study, the evidence was
EPSU affiliates around Europe have been developing collective bargaining policies, using legal action and pushing for legislative change to help them address the persistent problem of low pay in sectors dominated by women. In a report commissioned by EPSU, She works hard for the money, and in a presentation to EPSU's Quality Employment conference,Torsten Müller, senior researcher at the European Trade Union Institute, provides a number of examples from Finland, Sweden, Germany, the UK and other countries where public service trade unions have used collective bargaining to improve pay in health
The CSC/ACV and CGSP/ACOD unions representing prison workers have taken strike action in protest at government plans to legislate on limiting their right to strike. EPSU sent a solidarity message to the unions highlighting the deteriorating conditions and overcrowding in prisons across the country and the importance of having the right to strike to highlight the need for urgent action to address these problems and reverse the impact of austerity. Rather than attack trade union rights, EPSU argues that the federal government should open negotiations to tackle the critical situation facing the
EPSU has joined with the PSI, ETUC, ITUC and other labour movement organisations in calling for an International Labour Organisation Convention against gender-based violence at the workplace. The call comes on the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which takes place on 25 November every year. A draft text is under discussion and could be agreed at the ILO conference next year although the ETUC has concerns that some European governments are trying to get the text watered down.
Trade unions (ACV/CSC and ACOD/CGSP) organised a national strike in the prisons service on 12 December in protest at underfunding, badly maintained buildings, lack of staff, overcrowding and the resulting safety issues arising from this deteriorating situation. Understaffing has lead to many employees doing extra hours and a massive number of hours of overtime that remains to be recouped. The unions also have issues with contracts, provision of uniforms and a lack of strategy in the justice system. It is estimated that prisons currently hold around 10000 in mates, exceeding capacity by 1700.
The ETUC used an event in Brussels on 25 February to underline the need for legislation to end pay secrecy clauses, deliver compulsory annual pay audits and the right for workers to request gender pay information from their employers. While information helps, the ETUC also stresses that it is not enough to end inequality in pay and that a directive is needed to empower women workers and their unions to negotiate the changes needed to ensure equal pay in the workplace. Representatives of EPSU joined the action.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is recommending that governments should aim to increase the collective bargaining coverage rate among women in non-standard jobs as a way to close the gender pay gap. The report says that collective bargaining can be effective through targeted raises compensating for the concentration of women in low-paid industries; by establishing gender-neutral occupational classification schemes to correct the undervaluation of female-dominated occupations; measures promoting pay transparency; and gender-neutral evaluation criteria for