Oct. 23, 2020 22 October saw public services union ver.di involved in two major negotiations. The third round of bargaining covering municipal and federal employees was underway with ver.di underlining the importance of a decent settlement in recognition of the work carried out by public service workers during the current pandemic. The union expects the employers to continue to stress the problems facing public finance and to push for a long-term deal with small pay increases. Ver.di mobilised through warning strikes and online action in the lead up to the negotiations. Meanwhile, negotiations covering 50000 employees of the German Red Cross got underway with ver.di calling for a 5.5% increase in a 12-month agreement with a minimum increase of EUR 150 a month. The union wants additional payments for emergency service staff and care workers and a 35% bonus for anyone working with COVID-19 patients. Verdi is also calling for an end to the practice of working additional hours with no extra pay.
Oct. 23, 2020 The OSZSP health union reports that it has secured a commitment from the government for a 10% pay increase for health and social care workers. However, in discussions with the health ministry the union had to intervene on the state budget to ensure that funding was available to hospitals to cover the pay increase. In contrast, the government is arguing that its changes to income tax rules will increase take-home pay for workers and so it is planning to freeze pay for other public service workers and is even using the change to argue for pay freezes in the private sector.
Oct. 22, 2020 The STAL local government union has organised a march and demonstration outside parliament for 23 October. The union wants the government to ensure that the 2021 budget includes funding for key measures on pay. The union has four main demands - a EUR 90 increase for all workers; implementation of an allowance for dangerous and arduous work; changes to the pay structure to abolish pay levels that fall below the national minimum wage; and reinstatement of compensation payments for accidents at work. The final point relates to compensation for permanent partial incapacity that was the victim of cuts imposed by the Troika after the last crisis. EPSU sent a message of solidarity.
Oct. 22, 2020 Public services union Fórsa has suspended industrial action by school secretaries planned to begin on 23 October. This was to be part of a long-running campaign to end a two-tier pay system that leaves most school secretaries earning just €12,500 a year, with irregular, short-term contracts that force them to sign on to receive benefits during the summer holidays and other school breaks. Following a commitment from the government the union has agreed to talks at the Workplace Relations Commission which will begin on 27 October.
Oct. 08, 2020 Public service unions may be involved in new industrial action in two long-running disputes unless the government intervenes. The Forsa trade union has already set dates for strike action to try to resolve the two-tier pay system affecting school secretaries. Following the announcement of the action the government has made a commitment to address the problem but the union wants to see concrete proposals before it calls off the action. Meanwhile, Forsa is joined by SIPTU and INMO in considering a campaign of targeted action across non-profit providers of health and social services - Section 39 organisations. An agreement last year secured pay rises for workers in these bodies in a process to restore pay after the cuts imposed during austerity. Some of these organisations are now saying they don't have the funds to implement the increases and the unions want the government to step in.
Oct. 06, 2020 UNISON, GMB and Unite, the trade unions representing non-teaching staff, have joined with teaching unions in setting out their pay claim for colleges of further education. The unions are calling for a significant move towards the full restoration of pay levels to where they would be had college pay kept pace with inflation since 2009. They also want to see the living wage, as calculated by the Living Wage Foundation, to be the minimum wage in the sector, with all colleges in England becoming accredited living wage employers with the Foundation. The unions also want all contracted-out services to be brought back in-house with improvements in terms and conditions equal to those already directly employed by the college.
Oct. 05, 2020 The Kommunal municipal workers’ union has submitted its claims for this year’s delayed negotiations with the SKR and Sobona employer organisations. The union is underlining that its key demands on pay, working hours and other conditions are fundamental to recognise the efforts made by local and regional government workers and health and social care staff in dealing with last year’s fires and the current pandemic. Kommunal is calling for a 3% pay rise for all workers with an additional 0.5% distributed locally to vocationally trained groups in health care, schools and care. The agreement should also be backdated recognising that the delayed negotiations have left workers waiting since spring for a pay rise. Other demands include permanent contracts for fixed-term employees with vocational training after 12 months; more sustainable working hours; a reduction in split shifts; full-time work as the norm; shorter weekly hours (32) for night work; more and better leave and an end to the waiting period for sick pay.
Oct. 05, 2020 Following negotiations with the younion public services union, the city authorities in Vienna have agreed to an additional 1000 jobs in health care to help cope with the continuing pandemic. The union underlines the fact that the social partnership between the union and the city authorities means that problems around staffing can be regularly discussed and resolved. Two specific areas that will benefit are health information and advice services that will get 150 new posts and emergency services where 75 new jobs will be allocated. Younion believes that Vienna is setting an important example that other parts of government should follow.
Sep. 24, 2020 Public service union UNISON has won a major legal victory for 10 home care workers who are set to share £100000 (EUR 109000) in compensation for underpayment of wages. The case involves the failure of private contractors to pay to cover travelling time between jobs. It could have major implications for other home care workers and UNISON is calling on the government to act to outlaw the practice. Effectively, some of the workers were being paid less than half the minimum wage by being denied payment for travel time - an essential part of their work as home care staff - with some working as long as 14 hours a day.
Sep. 24, 2020 The STAL local government union organised an action outside parliament on 16 September as part of its long-running campaign to secure special allowances for workers doing arduous, unhealthy or high-risk jobs. The union says that legislation has been in place since 1989 to allow for this but never implemented. STAL underlines the fact that even in normal circumstances thousands of municipal workers deliver essential services in risky working conditions and that this is even more the case with COVID-19. Along with the demonstration the union has written an open letter to the government, MPs and local authorities calling for rectification of what it describes as a flagrant injustice.
Sep. 24, 2020 The FSC-CCOO and FeSP-UGT public service federations have signed a new agreement on telework covering 2.5 million public sector employees. The agreement includes basic principles that telework arrangements should be voluntary and reversible and subject to key provisions relating to health and safety, equality, transparency and objectivity. The agreement protects employee rights as well as guaranteeing services for citizens. Other important elements include a right to disconnect, data protection and the right to privacy. The unions have called for negotiations at various levels of government to follow quickly to ensure implementation of the new agreement.
Sep. 23, 2020 Service union ver.di has launched warning strikes across federal and local government to put pressure on the employers following the second round of bargaining. The union reports that the two-day meeting was a waste of time with no offer from the employers and no real appreciation or recognition of the work done by public sector employees. The employers have indicated that they will come up with an offer before the next round of negotiations which are due on 22-23 October. However, ver.di is not expecting much as on one key issue - equalisation of working time between Eastern and Western Germany - the employers have already suggested that this won't happen before 2025. Ver.di describes this as a real slap in the face for workers in the East
Sep. 11, 2020 The HK Kommunal local government union is consulting members for their proposals on what should be included in the upcoming public sector negotiations. Normally the union organises workplace visits across the country, but this year there an online survey because of the continuing impact of COVID-19. HK Kommunal underlines the importance of the consultation and being able to present a series of demands that have wide support across the membership. There had been some discussion about postponing negotiations and extending agreements for a year but this is not confirmed and so consultations continue and negotiations are likely to start early in 2021 with current agreements due to expire in March.
Sep. 10, 2020 Negotiations are underway in local government and while unions are aiming for a real pay increase they are also setting their sights on improvements in other working conditions. They want more investment in competence development and training during working time. However, a key demand is for more full-time work. Around two thirds of health and social care workers and 40% of those in childcare and education work part-time. Unions argue that this does not make the sector attractive and that full-time hours are needed to deliver decent pay. They also point to the benefits to the quality of services and health and safety and particularly in the current situation the increase in infection control that would come from fewer shift changes.