Jan. 09, 2020 A long-running dispute in hospitals in North West England has been resolved with pay rises for workers employed by the outsourcing company Compass. Before the deal, Compass employees were on the national minimum wage (£8.21 per hour/EUR 9.65), while colleagues employed directly by the NHS were earning at least £9.03 (EUR 10.60). This meant Compass workers were losing out to the tune of around £1,500 (EUR 1760) a year (see EPSU CB News August 2019, 15). The agreement negotiated by UNISON and overwhelmingly supported by the workers means they’ll now receive a significant pay rise, more money for working weekends and bank holidays and an improved sick pay scheme.
Jan. 09, 2020 EPSU and other international trade union organisations have joined the protests against labour law reforms that would undermine worker and trade union rights. Among other negative changes, the reforms would reduce protection against dismissal, increase working time, allow for zero-hour contracts, undermine collective bargaining and weaken trade union rights' to organise. Trade unions were not involved in any consultation over the proposals and EPSU has sent a letter of protest to the government.
Jan. 09, 2020 The HK Kommunal local government union is entering negotiations with the municipality of Esbjerg to discuss moving to a four-day week in the authority's job centre. However, the union is very sceptical about the prospects for the negotiations as it is in the context of the municipality aiming for major cost savings. HK Kommunal clearly states that a four-day week is not about forcing employees to do in four days all that they currently do in five days. The union says that Esbjerg is following the agreement reached in the Odsherred local authority in 2019 but there the focus was not on cost savings but on assessing the potential benefits of a shorter working week and the agreement was only finalised after several years of negotiations.
Jan. 09, 2020 Trade union action against the government’s pensions proposals has continued across several sectors, particularly transport. The latest main national mobilisation against pension reform took place on 9 January. While not all trade union organisations are involved in the strike action and demonstrations, all are opposed in some way to the plans to merge pension arrangements across sectors and increase the retirement age and/or increase the number of years of contributions needed for a full pension. There are particular concerns about arduous work in some sectors, like sewage treatment, where life expectancy is well below the national average.
Jan. 09, 2020 Over 100 healthcare trade unionists from across the country came together last month to discuss the staffing crisis in the sector. Neither the prime minister nor minister of health were able to take part but health ministry officials did attend and were taken to task over the government's failure to address the issue and its claims that there were too many hospital beds and too few patients. The trade unionists underlined the challenges of poor working conditions and pay that were contributing to recruitment difficulties and the continuing problem of emigration of trained workers.
Jan. 09, 2020 Around 50000 European public service officials and other workers employed by the European institutions and agencies are getting a 2% pay increase backdated to 1 July 2019. This is the result of the application of a pay formula obtained following lengthy strike action organised by EPSU affiliate Union Syndicale Fédérale in the 1980s and 90s and incorporated in the Staff Regulations since 2004. The formula guarantees that the purchasing power of these workers develops in line with inflation and the pay of officials in the central governments of the 28 member states with 1.5% due to inflation in Belgium and Luxemburg and the other 0.5% based on the average increase of the purchasing power of officials in central governments.
Jan. 08, 2020 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% in February 2021 is more at the discretion of employers but subject to guidelines agreed with the unions.
Jan. 08, 2020 The vpod/ssp public services has welcomed two initiatives on working time agreed with the BSH health and social care employers' organisation in the Graubünden/Grisons region. The BSH has agreed to the demand for time taken to change into and out of work clothes to be recorded as working time. This is a key demand in a national campaign being run by the union. Ten minutes a day is allocated to changing clothes but this may be adjusted depending on the outcome of a legal case in the Zürich region. The vpod/ssp also welcomes the decision of BSH to recommend a minimum of 25 days' annual leave to its member organisations, a move which the union sees as important in helping the sector address staff shortages.
Jan. 07, 2020 School secretaries organised by the Fórsa trade union planned a one-day strike on 10 January and further industrial action in support of their campaign for pay justice (see EPSU CB News 17 and 18, September 2019). Nine out of 10 school secretaries are employed by their local school, are paid less than EUR 12500 a year and have precarious employment conditions. In contrast, one in 10 are directly employment by the department of education and have the appropriate pay and conditions of public servants. EPSU sent a message of solidarity.
Jan. 06, 2020 Seven care workers, supported by the Fagforbundet public services union, have won a significant court case that rules they were wrongly classified as self-employed and so were denied the rights of employees. The workers took the case against the Baos private care company and their claim covers the wide range of benefits and rights that they should have been entitled to under the Work Environment Act. These cover paid holidays, overtime pay, working time, sick pay, pensions and other issues. The ruling means the company will have to pay the seven workers around NOK 5.5m (EUR 560000) to compensate for the lost rights. The union sees this as an important ruling for the private care sector where the practice of categorising workers as "self-employed" has become widespread.
Jan. 06, 2020 Both the ver.di service union and the BVAP employers' organisation report making good progress in their negotiations on a first-ever sector agreement covering eldercare providers. The two sides have also confirmed that they will apply to the labour ministry to have the agreement extended to cover all providers in the sector even if they are not party to the negotiations. The next round of negotiations will take place on 4-5 February. In the meantime the two sides report specific progress on a separate agreement covering trainees that will ensure pay will eventually match that for trainees in the healthcare sector.
Jan. 06, 2020 A telephone hotline set up by the FNV public services union in early November was used by over 500 people, many of whom revealed disturbing information on the situation facing trainees in the care sector. There was evidence of trainees used effectively as full-time employees to cover for holidays and sickness, being required to carry out tasks on their own for which they had not been fully trained and having responsibility for other trainees and temporary workers. There were also indications of inadequate supervision and supervisors lacking time to provide adequate support. The FNV has provided information to the SBB organisation that monitors the performance of companies providing training in the sector.
Dec. 19, 2019 Four health trade unions in Northern Ireland - UNISON, Unite, NIPSA and RCN - organised a day's strike action on 18 December to demand urgent action on pay inequality in the NHS. Health workers in Northern Ireland are the lowest paid in the UK and unions argue that pay parity will be a major factor in delivering safe staffing levels. EPSU sent a message of support. The unions are also planning or have organised other forms of industrial action as part of their campaign (see EPSU CB News 22 and 23).
Dec. 19, 2019 The Kommunal municipal and health services union has set out some of the main demands that it will pursue in the upcoming collective bargaining with municipal employers. The union will aim for a 3% general pay rise with an extra 0.5% to be used at local level for specific groups of vocationally trained workers in health, child and other care. It wants vocationally trained temporary workers to be offered a permanent contract after 12 months and is calling for a number of measures on working time. Among a range of demands, Kommunal wants to ensure full-time work is the norm and argues that the employer should pay extra if it wants workers to do split shifts. It is demanding an extra day's leave for all workers and a 32-hour working week for night workers.
Dec. 19, 2019 Trade unions organised a demonstration in Kiev on 17 December as part of a campaign against proposed changes to the labour code that would weaken workers’ protection. EPSU has sent letters to the Ukrainian government demanding that it discusses and negotiates with the unions. The ETUC Executive Committee and the Pan-European Regional Council of the ITUC have also adopted positions in support of the Ukrainian unions.