The government is going ahead with proposals for new working time legislation despite widespread criticism from the trade unions and even doubts expressed by employer organisations. The government wants to allow more flexibility in working time, including longer night and shift work and more local agreements on working time. The unions are worried that this is all about more worker flexibility and are concerned about the lack of provisions to ensure workers are protected. The unions also point out that this is a missed opportunity to tackle the spread of precarious work.
Collective Bargaining, Working Time
Negotiating and campaigning on working time
After pay, working time is core collective bargaining issue but is also an important area of employment regulated by national and European legislation. EPSU has been very active in defending and calling for proper implementation of the Working Time Directive and is involved in current debates on working time. The why and how of working time reduction is a guide produced for EPSU by the European Trade Union Institute and examines long-term trends in working time, the arguments for reducing it and examples of how this has been achieved.
The SGB trade union confederation and the vpod public services union have called for a general wage increase of between 1.5% and 2.0%. But the vpod also highlights the need to address the fall in real pay in the public services as well as the importance of ensuring higher pay for jobs dominated by women. Meanwhile the federal court has thrown out a challenge to a proposed minimum wage in the Neuenberg Canton, opening the way to implementation of an hourly minimum of CHFr 20 (€17.50).
Eight years on since the renewal of the last collective agreement, the Ministry of Public Administration has confirmed the timetable for negotiations over firefighters' pay and conditions. The FP CGIL union is looking for a pay increase to recognise the professional responsibilities of firefighters with a minimum €80 a month as agreed in the initial public sector pay talks last year. The union will also be looking for improvements in pensions and ways of dealing with accidents and occupational diseases.
The trade union-linked WSI research organisation says that the latest figures indicate 37.7 hours as the average for the collectively agreed working week, with a higher average in the East (38.7) compared to the West (37.6). Across industries the working week varies from 34 to 40 hours with around a fifth of all workers covered by a collective agreement on a 35-hour week. The WSI notes that after a wave of agreements on shorter working hours in the 1980s and 1990s, there has been very little change. In the early 2000s a small number of agreements, including the public sector, experienced an
The STAL trade union reports a high level of support for strike action at the RESIESTRELA waste company part of the EGF multinational. The strike is over pay, a pay structure and the right to collective bargaining. The union says that workers at RESIESTRELA are the lowest paid in the EGF group with no developed pay or career structure. STAL has been raising these issues with EGF for many years but the company has refused to negotiate.
The GPA-djp private services union is campaigning to defend workers' rights on working time and against pressure from employers for more flexibility in working time legislation and a move to a 12-hour maximum working day. The union points out that Austrian workers already have a 41.5-hour working week on average, among the highest in Europe, and often have to work overtime at short notice. The GPA-djp also highlights the evidence of increased health and safety risks once the working day goes over nine hours.
The GPA-djp has launched a campaign in protest against a decision by the non-profit pro mente rehabilitation company to apply a poorer collective agreement to all new employees from November this year. The union says that the move from the SWÖ (Austrian social economy) agreement to the Cure and Rehabilitation agreement will mean a massive deterioration of pay and employment conditions for the workers affected. The GPA-djp has set up an online petition to support the campaign.
The Health Workers' Union of Ukraine has called a national demonstration on 12 September in protest at the government's failure to respond to a labour dispute raised by the union last year. The union is claiming a general rise for all healthworkers as well as resolution of an issue relating to highly skilled workers' pay. The demonstration will also highlight the need to increase health sector funding and will protest against government plans for restructuring and to cut hospital beds.
Workers had enough - Slovak unions fighting for pay increase for public service workers – protests likely in October
Slovak workers are angry. They are not benefitting from the current economic growth. Multinationals do not share with workers their productivity increases. The President of the Slovak Confederation KOZ spoke
Members of the FNV trade union at the Kwadrant care company have made some progress on their demands for action on jobs and overwork (see epsucob@NEWS no.15). In an initial meeting with management the workers have at least been given a commitment that travel time between clients will be fully paid working time. They will have to wait until 1 October to find out if the company will respond to their key demand not to cut jobs and to tackle the heavy workloads faced by many carers. The union has organised a petition among workers to highlight the problems they face.
Trade unions representing over 430,000 municipal workers have come together to call for a significant pay rise for their members. The unions argue that public sector workers were negatively affected by the competitiveness pact agreed in 2016 with cuts to holiday entitlement. The sector has also seen massive cuts, including job losses, and that a pay freeze would be totally unacceptable. The unions argue that a pay rise is necessary and would mean a major boost for the economy.
Nurses at the Cancer Society, supported by their union, the NSF, are continuing their strike in protest at the Society's decision to switch employer organisations to take advantage of a poorer collective agreement. This is the longest strike in the union's history (see first epsucob@NEWS report in issue 10) and the NSF says it is gaining more and more support.
Public sector trade unions met on 30th August to give a clear message to the government that there should be no further delay in paying the 10% salary increase for all public service workers. The unions accused the government of delay as it had already indicated that the promised increase would be applied from November rather than September. The unions said that they had been negotiating in good faith since April and would be joining a national demonstration on pay on 14 September to underline their message to the government.
Proposals to reform the labour code were published owin 31 August with some initial negative reactions from the trade unions. A common response was that the raft of reforms was being put forward before there had been a proper evaluation of the changes that have been implemented in the last four years. Unions expressed concern about rebalancing of the relationship between sector and company-level bargaining and changes to compensation in cases of redundancy. In small companies (less than 50 employees) it will be possible for employers to negotiate with non-trade union representatives and in