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Health and social services

Action on pay building up over autumn

Public sector workers across the UK are either preparing for or voting on strike action on pay. Local government workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland already have date for the second day of strike action on 14 October. Meanwhile, local government workers in Scotland and workers across the health service are being balloted for strike action. Non-teaching staff in academy schools are also being balloted for action. The push for higher pay across all sectors is being supported by the (...)

Report supports case for minimum staffing levels in healthcare

A new report from Duisberg-Essen university provides support for the arguments of ver.di that urgent action is required to deal with an estimated shortage of 162000 full-time workers in healthcare and a legal minimum staffing requirement would be a practical and reasonable way of dealing with this. The report also argues that there is a need to make healthcare jobs more attractive. This is a central concern for ver.di that was calling for an increase in the sector minimum wage for care (...)

Concern over employment and training in private childcare

The FOA public services union is concerned about the growth of private childcare and the extent to which this poses a threat to levels of employment, training and quality of childcare. The union notes that large companies have made inroads into childcare provision in Norway and Sweden, often cutting costs by reducing the ratio of childcare workers to children. Read more at > FOA (...)

Unions fight care worker layoffs

The FNV Abvakabo and CNV Publieke Zaak public service unions are running a campaign to prevent 363 care workers losing their jobs. The job cuts have been threatened by the ZONL care company which claims the dismissals are necessary because of cuts in funding. The unions are setting up a protest centre outside the town hall in Steenwijkerland in eastern Netherlands where they will coordinate their protests and lobby local councillors. Read more at > CNV Publieke Zaak (NL) And at > FNV (...)

Care workers determined to maintain pay protest

Care workers employed in Doncaster, South Yorkshire took their pay dispute to London on 8 August to protest outside the offices of Bridgepoint Capital, the owners of Care UK, the company that employs the care workers. This is the second time the workers have travelled to London. They are in the middle of a two-week strike, the latest action to prevent cuts of up to 35% in their pay. Meanwhile UNISON has written to the government to urge it to name and shame councils who commission social (...)

Minister foresees pay negotations in 2015

The public expenditure minister has indicated that 2015 could see negotiations between the government and public sector unions that would look at clawing back some of the pay cuts that have been imposed since 2009. The cuts began with the introduction of a "pensions levy" in 2009 and cuts in basic and other pay elements followed in 2010 and 2011. Read more at > IMPACT

Disabled care agreement declared generally binding

The agreement covering workers in the disabled care sector was agreed earlier this year but has now been declared generally binding by the ministry of social affairs. This means that the agreement applies across the sector even at employers who are not signatory to the agreement. The collective agreement runs from 1 March 2014 to 1 March 2015 and includes a 1% pay increase from 1 October, a one-off payment worth 0.7% of salary in June and an increase in the year-end bonus from 6.75% of (...)

Social care survey responses top 7000

Over 7000 workers in social services have now responded to a survey on pay and working conditions. The survey is supported by EPSU with the view that it will provide important and up-to-date information that affiliates can use at national level in their lobbying, campaigning and collective bargaining. The survey will run until October when results will be analysed in time for a conference in Amsterdam on 18 November. So there is still plenty of time to encourage members to complete the (...)

Call for more jobs and better conditions in childcare

Services union ver.di has reacted to the latest figures on childcare provision to call for more investment in the sector and the creation of 120000 additional jobs. The union says that a recent report on early years education underlines the wide variation in staffing levels across the country and the fact that in many cases staff are responsible for too many children. Ver.di stresses the importance of linking quality of provision with quality of working conditions and that meeting the (...)

Health union aims for pay increase for all

At the end of June, the health union Sanitas organised protest action in support of a pay claim. In response the government offered pay increases to specialist health employees and social service workers on less than 1500 lei (€340). Sanitas has, however, not agreed to the proposal as it is aiming to achieve a pay increase for all health workers. The union want to continue negotiations and has suspended any further protest action until 15 September. Read more at > Sanitas (...)

EPSU works with affiliates to support Spanish nurses in Germany

EPSU has been supporting German affiliates ver.di and Spanish affiliates FES-CCOO and FSP-UGT in a joint effort to defend Spanish nurses working in Germany. It emerged that the nurses were not being paid according to the collective agreement with hourly rates of pay of €9 rather than €13.50 or €14.50. Read more at > EPSU

Health staff in private sector mobilise for better pay

The health federation - CGT de la Santé et de l’Action Sociale - has been mobilising its members to support negotiations with the FDH federation of private hospitals. With two days of action on 25 June and 10 July and other mobilisations in between the union has been calling for better pay and conditions and recognition of qualifications for workers in clinics and private homes for the elderly run by the EHPAD organisation. [Read more at > CGT (...)

Municipal and health workers in dispute

Members of the IMPACT union in local government have taken strike action over pay while members of the SIPTU union in the ambulance service are being balloted for strike action over redeployment. In both cases employers appear to be failing to comply with the provisions of the national public sector agreement (the Haddington Road agreement) that was negotiated last year. In the ambulance service there are clear provisions for how to handle service closures and any resulting redeployment but (...)

Call for minimum wage increase for doctors’ employees

The GPA-djp is campaigning for employees of doctors’ (GP) practices in Lower Austria to get a minimum wage of €1300 a month. Regional collective agreements cover the 40000 employees of GP practices across the country, but the agreement in Lower Austria is the only one with a minimum wage below €1300 - currently €1091. The union is also working with the ÖGB confederation to gradually negotiate minimum wages of at least €1500 across all their collective agreements. The GPA-djp believes that (...)

Gender pay gap in public sector

The vpod/ssp public service union reports that the gender pay gap in the public sector is 13.6% on average but rises to 18.6% when comparing lower paid occupations. In the health sector the size of the pay gap is reversed with women higher up the pay scale getting 13.7% less than men while the pay gap at the bottom of the pay scale is 5.4%. The union concedes that public sector employers have shown more willingness to discuss pay inequality than private sector employers, however, they have (...)

Union protests over staffing levels in health and social care

Ver.di the main union for healthworkers is organising a demonstration in Hamburg on 26 June to coincide with the meeting of federal and regional health ministers. The union argues that there is an urgent need for action to deal with massive staffing shortfalls across the sector - hospitals alone need an estimated 162000 extra staff to maintain services. Ver.di says that staff are doing their best to deliver quality services in health and social care but are increasingly overworked with (...)

Health union in protests over pay

The Sanitas health union began a series of protests and pickets on 23 June calling for a 10% pay increase and for the government to implement the collective agreement for the sector that covers around 100000 workers. EPSU sent a message of support and affiliates gathering for the EPSU South East Europe constituency meeting in Sofia also agreed a message of support. Sanitas met with health ministry officials after the first protests on 23 June and further meetings are planned Read more at > (...)

Unions plan action over pay

Public sector unions across the UK are protesting, balloting for strike action and planning campaigns over pay. A nationwide day of protest over pay in the National Health Service took place on 5 June while unions are balloting for strike action in local government. Action is also being planned in central government where a consultative ballot is taking place and a day of action planned for 10 July. Read more at > PCS civil service And at > UNISON health And at > GMB health And at > UNISON (...)

Union calls for more regulation on quality jobs and services

The Kommunal municipal workers’ union has called for more regulation to protect pay, jobs, working conditions and the quality of service in health and social services. The union is concerned about the increasing role played by for-profit private sector organisations in the sector and that it is often workers’ pay and conditions as well as the quality of service that suffer in order to ensure profitability in the companies. Kommunal says that clearer rules on standards should be applied in the (...)

Agreement on jobs at major hospital

After lengthy negotiations the ver.di services union has secured an agreement to increase nursing jobs at the Charité hospital group in Berlin. The agreement also includes a commitment to set up a joint committee with the employer to look at health issues for employees and in particular areas where workloads are excessive. Eighty workers will be taken on and ver.di sees this as a successful short-term agreement and a first step towards a longer term agreement on appropriate staffing levels. (...)

Unions welcome agreement in hospital sector

Negotiations with the Spekter employers’ organisation representing hospitals have produced a new collective agreement with a 3.5% pay increase along with a minimum guaranteed annual increase of NOK 10000 (€1230). The agreement also includes improved rates for nurses on training and a requirement on employers to inform employees of the possible consequences of contracting-out. Read more at > Fagforbundet (...)

Important holiday pay ruling for union

The GPA-DJP services union has won an important court ruling clarifying that overtime should be included in the calculation of holiday and Christmas pay. The case was taken by the union in collaboration with the works council at the Caritas Socialis social care organisation. The outcome benefits not just the 850 employees at Caritas Socialis but around 120000 employees who are covered by the social care sector agreement. Read more at > GPA-DJP (...)

Unions meet minister over Red Cross reforms

The four union federations - Fp-Cgil, Cisl-Fp Uil-Pa and Fialp-Cisal - are hoping that a meeting with the health minister will be the first step in resolving the dispute over reorganisation of the Red Cross. The unions are looking for a guarantee on pay and jobs, discussions over any planned restructuring of the organisation and a freeze on any initiatives taken by Red Cross management. The unions think that the minister’s decision to reopen negotiations is a positive one but they will be (...)

No progress after fifth bargaining round in hospitals

Health sector unions - FNV Abvakabo, CNV Publieke Zaak and NU’91 - report no further progress towards a new collective agreement after the fifth round of negotiations in the hospital sector. The unions believe that they have come up with a number of positive proposals in terms of shifting flexible workers to permanent contracts, in relation to working hours and on initiatives on training to improve employability. In response, the employers only seem interested in getting rid of the (...)

Unions want increased staffing levels for midwives

Five trade union organisations - CGT, CFDT, FO, UNSA and SUD - have issued a joint statement criticising the health ministry for its failure to address the deterioration in maternity provision and the impact of the closure and merger of maternity units. The unions are calling for specific staffing levels for midwives in different kinds of services and for a block on any further closures of maternity provision. Read more at > CGT (...)

Union welcomes homecare report

Public services union UNISON has welcomed the main findings and recommendations of a report on home care commissioned by the Labour Party. The report notes in particular the exploitative pay and conditions faced by many home care workers who have heavy workloads. The report says that many workers are undervalued, underpaid and undertrained and have little time to provide the quality of care they would like to deliver. The reports recommendations are in line with the Ethical Care Charter (...)

Care workers take protest to London

Social care workers employed by Care UK took their dispute to London this week with a demonstration outside the head office of Bridgepoint Capital, the private equity firm that owns Care UK. The workers have taken more than three week’s strike action in protest at the company’s decision to make deep cuts to pay and conditions. The company said it would make the cuts after a winning a contract from Doncaster council in north east England to provide care services to people with severe learning (...)

Hard bargaining in hospital sector

The three trade unions in the hospital sector - FNV Abvakabo, CNV Publieke Zaak and NU’91 -are finding negotiations hard going. After the fourth round of bargaining the employers are still pushing for a number of changes to employment conditions affecting pay, shifts and working time that could mean a significant deterioration for workers. The unions are calling for more job security, better training and a pay increase of 3% but the employers are looking for more employee flexibility. Read (...)

Union calls for more staff on international nurses’ day

Public services union ver.di organised activities at health and other care institutions around the country to celebrate international nurses’ day with a call for more staff and better pay. Ver.di argues that quality care means having the time to care for patients and this can only be done with more staff. The union is also calling for greater recognition of the work of carers and a minimum €3000 a month in pay for qualified nurses and elder care workers. Read more at > ver.di (...)

Report reveals poor pay and conditions for temporary workers

Local government union Kommunal has published a new report on the pay and conditions of temporary worker. The report shows that temporary workers tend to be on lower pay, often work part time and split shifts and receive little if any training. In the past five years the number of temporary workers in the municipal sector has increased by five percentage points to 156000. As many as one in five temporary workers have more than one job as they can’t survive on the pay from one job alone. For (...)

Another group of care workers forced to take strike action

Members of public service union UNISON at the Gwalia care group in Wales have voted for strike action on 6 May in protest at the company’s plans to cut pay and conditions. This follows other action around the UK, including Doncaster in South Yorkshire and Rochdale in Lancashire where private care companies have attacked workers’ pay and conditions. Gwalia provides elder care services in Port Talbot Neath in South Wales and originally proposed to cut pay by 16% along with cuts in staffing and (...)

Report highlights social workers’ heavy workload

The Vision trade union is underlining the link between good working conditions and quality of care in a new report on social workers. The report notes the heavy workload and high risk of psychosocial stress faced by many social workers. Vision argues that many social workers work long hours and reduce or cut their breaks to try to cope with too much case work. It says that urgent action is needed now to tackle excessive workloads and improve working conditions for social workers. Read more (...)

Union calls for investment in training for carers

Speaking at a health ministry hearing on proposals for reforming the care sector, ver.di executive board member Sylvia Bühler has called for immediate action to train the additional 10000 care workers a year that are needed to cope with the forecast growth in demand over the next 15 years. Ver.di sees this investment in training as essential now to ensure a sustainable care sector in the longer term. The union argues that at the moment where care providers do invest in training, costs are (...)

Unions threaten to strike over Red Cross restructuring

The four unions that organise workers in the Red Cross - Fp-Cgil, Cisl-Fp, Uil-Pa and Fialp-Cisal - have called for urgent clarification from the Ministry of Health over the impact on jobs, pay and employment conditions of the changes being made to the legal status of the organisation. The unions have already mobilised on 31 March and 4 April but following these actions there have been contradictory messages from the health ministry about guarantees for the 4000 workers (including 1500 (...)

Care workers continue their action over pay and conditions

Some 150 care workers in Doncaster in the north of England are continuing to take industrial action to try to prevent their employer, Care UK, from cutting their pay by as much as 50%. The workers are determined to retain their National Health Service pay and conditions and have already taken three weeks of strike action over a prolonged period. Public services UNISON sees this as an important campaign and is calling on all its branches across the country to provide support for the (...)

Employment questions arise in welfare restructuring plans

The JHL trade union has welcomed the principle of a planned restructuring of health and social services but warns of the consequences for care and employees’ jobs and pay and conditions. If the plans to create five regional providers goes ahead then many municipal workers may see a change of employer. The union says that those currently employed by municipalities now have five year protection against dismissal should municipalities opt to merge, a rule which JHL wants included in the new (...)

New two-year agreement in voluntary sector

The Kommunal municipal union has negotiated a new two-year collective agreement with the Arbetsgivaralliansen employers’ organisation in health and social care. The organisation has around 3000 members employing some 250000 people. The agreement runs from 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2016. The pay increase was negotiated as a flat-rate amount so as not to increase the gap between male-and female -dominated industries. Salaries will be increased by SEK 550 (€60.5) from 1 April 2014 and SEK 600 (...)

Wage cutting care company goes bust

Jobs and the care of elderly people were put at risk following the bankruptcy of the Kære Pleje private care company. Around 100 employees were affected and 500 elderly people and it was left to the municipality in Kolding in southern Denmark to sort out care provision at very short notice. The FOA trade union reports an increasing number of bankruptcies in the care sector leaving local authorities to deal with the consequences. The Kære Pleje company had already created controversy when it (...)

Care workers protest against private company

Respekt@vpod is a network of migrant and other workers in the care sector which is campaigning actively over care worker rights and the practices of some private care providers. The network organised a demonstration outside the head office of the Home Instead Schweiz company to protest at the franchise system that the company operates. The system guarantees profits for the company while shifting all the risk to the franchisee and this creates a situation where the franchisee cuts costs with (...)

Unions in joint protests over Red Cross restructuring

The unions that organise in the Red Cross - Fp-Cgil, Cisl-Fp, Uil-Pa and Cisal-Fialp - are jointly mobilising for demonstrations and possible strike action over a restructuring of the institution which will see it established under private law. Regional protests are planned for planned for 31 March and a national demonstration for 4 April. The unions had been pressing for guarantees on pay and conditions as workers are transferred to new contracts. However, the employer has effectively torn (...)

Mobilisation over jobs and working conditions in non-profit sector

Unions organising in the non-profit sector in French speaking community have called a demonstration in Brussels on 27 March to argue for further investment in the sector which includes many key health and social services. The unions, with the support of some employers, are concerned that the government doesn’t recognise the contribution that the sector makes not just in terms of vital services but also to the economy as a whole. The fact that the non-profit sector doesn’t clearly feature in (...)

Pay reform is major objective for healthworkers’ union

Earlier this year the Health Workers’ Union organised a seminar to discuss the main challenges it faces in relation to health reforms and underfunding of the health services. A major issue is the pay system which includes rates of pay set below the national minimum wage. Although, all workers get the statutory minimum it means that the whole pay structure in the health sector is far too low. The union wants the minimum basic salary in the health sector to start at the legal minimum wage. At (...)

Key demands for next bargaining round

Public sector union Fagforbundet has set out the main themes for the forthcoming bargaining round, noting that a recent report has highlighted the positive outcomes from the system of coordinated bargaining. The union is looking to maintain purchasing power; taking action to close the gender pay gap and tackle low pay; reinforce the right to credit for competence, including supplementary and special education, qualifications and management responsibilities; reinforce the right to full (...)

Breakthrough in collective bargaining with church employers

Next month in the Lower Saxony region, the ver.di services union and Marburger Bund doctors’ union will begin negotiations over a collective agreement with church organisations. This marks a breakthrough after courts cases have established union rights in the face of claims by church bodies that they should be able to maintain their special arrangements of joint committees that determine workers’ pay and conditions. The collective agreement will, however, be negotiated with a process of (...)

Union gears up for change in local government and health

The IMPACT services union is alerting members to the potential effects of significant restructuring planned in the public sector. In health services the union is concerned that moves towards creating clusters of hospitals may pose a threat to national pay bargaining. Meanwhile, proposals to abolish and merge a large number of local authorities raise issues about job security, mobility and protection of pay and conditions. Read more on hospitals at > IMPACT And on municipalities at > (...)

Union move towards more individualised pay policy

Vision, the white-collar trade union in local and regional government, is moving towards a more individualised approach to pay determination following one of its largest member consultations in recent years. The union says that many of their members want to see their salary more clearly linked to their duties, qualifications and performance and think that can best be done by negotiating pay with their immediate supervisor. Vision also believes that pay determined in this way might address (...)

Action for a healthier workplace

The FOA public services trade union reports that survey results suggest that employees have greater job satisfaction and work more productively where measures are taken to create a healthy workplace. Training at work and initiatives relating to food and exercise can contribute to improving workers’ health. The union joined with Danish local authorities, the Pensam occupational pensions company and the Dagens Medicin publication in a conference to discuss the issues. The union highlights in (...)

More time for home care

The FOA public services union reports that municipalities are becoming less rigid about monitoring the time taken by home carers to carry out tasks during their home visits. In a survey in 2007 the union found that 40% of municipalities required their home care staff to record details of the time spent on home care. This figure has now dropped to 21% and FOA welcomes this as a sign that local authorities are trusting their employees to use their professional expertise to do their jobs and (...)

Municipalities sign up to ethical care charter

Renfrewshire Council in Scotland is the latest local authority to sign up to the ethical care charter promoted by public services union UNISON. The charter commits councils to buying homecare only from providers who give workers enough time, training and a living wage, so they can provide better quality care for thousands of service users who rely on it. And earlier this month the union reported that Optalis, a company, operating in Wokingham in the south of England, was the first local (...)

Union in dispute with care company over collective agreement

The FOA public services is in dispute with the Caregruppen social care company and will take strike action from 1 April unless the company agrees to negotiations over a collective agreement. Caregruppen has contracts with several municipalities but its employees are not covered by a collective agreement. The company took over some contracts from Falck which did have an agreement with FOA but Caregruppen terminated this, sacked the workers and took them on on worse pay and conditions. Read (...)

Unions mobilise for 18 March

Four trade union organisations - CGT, FO, SUD and Solidaires - are mobilising for a national demonstration against austerity bringing together both public and private sector workers. The CGT and FO have also issued a joint call for action in the public sector highlighting some of their key demands for public sector workers. These include a increase in the public sector pay index which has been frozen for five years and an increase in pay to restore purchasing power, along with recognition (...)

Unions secure talks over Red Cross restructuring

The Cgil, Csil and Uil unions have ensured that they will be involved in talks over the future of the Italian Red Cross. The unions have been concerned that the organisation would be restructured and parts of it privatised with no consultation with the unions. The three unions will now discuss the plans for the service and what provisions are being put in place to protect workers’ pay, conditions and jobs and workers’ rights in relation to mobility and potential transfer to other (...)

Union takes working time case to Commission

Public service union IMPACT has approached the European Commission about a claim that health employers are in breach of working time legislation over residential care staff who are often required to sleep over where they work. IMPACT says that some staff are routinely required to work a 63-hour week and are only paid a sleepover allowance. The union wants to see a properly enforced 39-hour week with any overtime paid at a higher rate, including any sleepover time. It is also calling for (...)

Union calls for job security agreement at hospitals group

Ver.di has reaffirmed its call for a job security agreement at the Helios (Fresenius) hospital group following confirmation that it would acquire 53 clinics and care centres from the Rhön healthcare company. Helios stated some time ago that the merger would not have an impact on employment, but ver.di argues that if that is the case then the company should sign an agreement to that effect. The union is concerned that the costs of the merger may have an impact on employment levels and wants (...)

"Speed dating" on hospital negotiations

Hospital sector unions, FNV Abvakabo and CNV Publieke Zaake, are organising a series of "speed dating" events at hospitals around the country. The unions want to provide workers with the opportunity to find out about and react to the main issues up for negotiation in the hospital sector. The unions are concerned to secure a real pay increase, ensure jobs for qualified graduates and stop the practice of calling employees back to work during their break time. Read more at > FNV Abvakabo (NL) (...)

Unions set out claim for hospital negotiations

The hospital sector collective agreement expires on 1 March and EPSU affiliates FNV Abvakabo, CNV Publieke Zaak and Nu’91 have agreed on their main demands. In order to protect workers’ purchasing power the unions are asking for a pay increase of 3%. They also want to see more initiatives action to retain qualified workers as well as action to prevent employers call workers back on duty during their breaks. Read more at > FNV Abvakabo (NL) And at > CNV Publieke Zaak (NL) And at > Nu’91 (...)

Public sector unions call for negotiations

Nine public sector trade union organisations - CGT, CFDT, FO, UNSA, FSU, Solidaires, CFTC, CFE-CGC, FAFP - have come together to call on the prime minister to open negotiations over salaries, careers and promotion in the public sector. The unions argue that recent government statements have not created a very good climate for talks and want confirmation from the prime minister that the government is not proposing to put a block on career advancement or bonus payments. Read more at > CGT (...)

Under-staffed, low paid, stressed out and overworked

Ver.di is highlighting the very poor pay and working conditions suffered by many in health and social care. The union argues that a qualified, full-time care worker should be on a salary of at least €3000 but average pay is more like €2410 while those in elder care are on an average of only €2190. This compares to an average salary across all sectors of €3462. A big problem in the care sector is that many employers are not signed up to collective agreements and so the possibility to extend (...)

Bargaining in the hospitals sector

The vida trade union has negotiated a 2.5% pay increase for the 9000 workers covered by the agreement for religious hospitals. The increase will be applied from 1 March and there will be an extra €20 for those on less than €1450 a month. However, the fourth bargaining round in negotiations covering 15000 employees in private health institutions produced an offer from the employers of only 2%. Vida is organising workplace meetings to report on what it sees as an inadquate offer and to discuss (...)

Above-inflation rise in health and social care

The 95000 employees in private health and social care are getting a 2.5% increase on minimum rates and 2.4% on other pay levels from 1 February. Inflation in Austria is currently at 1.9%. The vida and GPA-djp trade unions have also negotiated an increase for next February with a rise based on the annual inflation rate to October 2014 plus 0.35%. There are also improvements relating to parental leave and the crediting of previous service in other employment. Read more at > vida (...)

Week of action to protect jobs and pay and conditions

The ver.di services union is organising a week of action up to 31 January in the Helios and Rhön group of health companies. The combined company employs around 70000 workers but is in the process of selling off 75 of Rhön’s clinics and other institutions. Ver.di wants to negotiate an agreement to protect jobs and pay and conditions. It wants to ensure that workers don’t face further work intensification or outsourcing to companies with worse pay and conditions. The union also wants to see (...)

Unions agree to improved pay offer

Following their major demonstration in Vienna last month, public sector unions have accepted a higher pay offer from the employers. The unions were initially offered a 1% pay increase plus 0.5% lump sum. The final deal includes pay rises ranging from 1.55% for the higher paid to 2.53% for the lower paid and 2.02% on allowances. This covers the period 1.3.14 to 28.2.15. Pay will be then be increased by inflation plus 0.1% from 1.3.2015 to cover the period up to 31.12.2015. Municipal (...)

Health workers challenge precarious employment

EPSU - SEP Workers, mainly nurses, at a 24-hour health helpline are taking action to protect their pay and improve their employment conditions. The workers have not had proper employment contracts, being effectively self-employed, and now face the sack for resisting a massive cut in pay. The service is being run jointly by Portuguese and French communication companies. Some of the workers are represented by the SEP nurses’ union, part of the CGTP-IN trade union confederation. EPSU has sent (...)

Union urges members to get their entitlements

The FNV Abvakabo public services union is concerned that members covered by the childcare collective agreement are not getting all that they are entitled to. The union has set up a special email address and is urging members to get in contact if they think they are not receiving the end-of-year bonus, holiday pay and various other allowances that are laid down in the agreement. The union also wants to hear from members who think other workers covered by the agreement are having similar (...)

Union highlights safety risks in homes for mentally ill

A new study by the FOA public services union has found that three out of four workers in care homes for the mentally ill have suffered some form of physical abuse while eight of 10 have been subject to threats of violence. The union is particularly concerned that many workers are often in situations where they are working on their own. This raises the key question of staffing levels. The union is calling on the government, employers and trade unions to work together on a national plan to (...)

Federations challenge government in high court

The three public sector federations in the CCOO confederation (citizens’ services, health and education) have submitted a case to the Audiencia Nacional high court in protest at the government’s failure to negotiate pay increases for workers in the public sector. The right to negotiate is written into the basic statute for public sector workers and the government effectively ignored this last autumn when it said it would not negotiate over pay increases, having already made such a statement (...)

Union prepares claim for disabled care sector

Over 1600 workers in the disabled care sector responded to a questionnaire by the FNV Abvakabo trade union which is using the survey responses to help prepare for negotiations over the sector agreement that expires on 1 March this year. Over 75% of respondents thought that quality of care had been reduced as job cuts have led to increased workloads. The survey indicates that most respondents want Abvakabo to focus on maintaining jobs, regulating flexible contracts and protecting purchasing (...)

Strike threat brings government to negotiating table

Health unions called off their planned strike on 28 November when the government agreed to negotiate on the unions’ main demands. These include a commitment to higher health spending and the negotiation of a collective agreement for the sector, releasing funds to finance 1200 jobs and an increase in the minimum wage in the sector affecting around 20000 workers. The unions will monitor progress with the negotiations and review the situation at their next strategy meeting in December. Read (...)

Union negotiates agreement with private care firm

The FOA public services union has negotiated an agreement with the Tryghedsplejen private social care company that works in around 40 municipalities. The agreement will cover pay as well as other conditions such as holidays and maternity provisions and guarantees an hourly rate of DKK 142.46 (€19). The union believes this is an important step in improving pay and conditions in the sector and the company also sees this as a positive move to ensuring quality employment and quality of care. (...)

Pay and conditions in social care project

EPSU will be involved in new project investigating pay and conditions in the social care sector. The project, WICARE, will be similar to the earlier project WISUTIL which focused on pay and conditions in energy, waste and water. WICARE will cover 30 countries and EPSU affiliates will be asked to encourage their members in social care to complete an online survey. The survey will be on national Wage Indicator websites in national languages and the responses will be analysed by researchers at (...)

Report exposes challenges of work in elder care

A new report from the Kommunal municipal workers’ union reveals the increasing demands being placed on workers providing care for the elderly who find themselves so overworked with so many staff shortages that they don’t have enough time for breaks. The union warns that staffing levels are often so low that they put elderly people at risk. Kommunal is calling for minimum staffing levels on the basis of full-time, permanent workers with appropriate levels of training who can guarantee (...)

Protests over pay and labour rights

Thousands of trade unionists joined a demonstration in Sofia on 20 November to protest over government policies, including specific calls for higher pay and protection of labour rights. Health workers from EPSU’s FTU-HS affiliate were among those supporting the protest, calling in particular for a 20% pay rise for the sector. Read more at > EPSU

Union prepares for hospital sector negotiations

The current agreement in the hospital sector runs until March 2014 but the FNV Abvakabo public services union is already preparing its key collective bargaining demands following a survey of hospital workers in October. The union notes the positive elements in the current agreement (2011-2014) which delivered a 2% pay increase this year along with a full 13th month salary for the first time. The main issues for the next bargaining round include job security, better provision of employment (...)

Union concern over increasing role of volunteers

The FOA public service union is concerned about the increasing number of tasks being given to volunteers in nursing homes and care centres - tasks that would normally be undertaken by paid staff. A union survey of members found one in four reporting that jobs previously handled by employees were being done by volunteers. The union welcomes the contribution of volunteers but warns that the sector cannot continue to cut jobs and rely more and more on unpaid support. FOA is also concerned (...)

Union says church labour rule changes are inadequate

The services union ver.di has been calling for some time for the Evangelical Church of Germany to change its rules to allow its employees the basic rights to strike and to bargain collectively in line with court rulings against the church. However, the latest proposals coming from the church are regarded as inadequate and unacceptable by ver.di which organised a demonstration in Dusseldorf on 9 November to coincide with a meeting of the church’s synod. Read more at > ver.di (...)

Midwives take action over pay

Trade unions representing midwives have been calling for some tmie for improvements to their pay and conditions, including a revaluation of their salary in line with their level of training and medical responsibilities. Negotiations in the public hospitals sector took place on 13 November but no progress was made in the absence of the minister for health. As a result thousands of midwives joined a national demonstration on Tuesday 19 November with many taking strike action. Read more at > (...)

Union pursues legal challenge over collective bargaining

The FSP-UGT public services federation is continuing to pursue its legal challenge against the Ministry of Health for negotiating collective agreements with an unrepresentative employees’ organisation - the Forum of Nurses and Medical Professionals. The union has denounced the agreements that have been negotiated and submitted a case to the ombudsman back in April. Now the High Court will rule on the validity of the agreements signed by the Ministry of Health which the FSP-UGT says has an (...)

EPSU protests over pay cuts imposed on nurses

EPSU letter of support to PASYDY EPSU has written to the Minister of Finance to protest about the government’s decision to make drastic cuts to nurses’ pay and conditions without any preceding dialogue with trade unions and employers’ organisations. The measures include a 15% reduction to all shift benefits of nursing personnel for night shifts and 35% for Sundays and public holidays, as of 1 January 2013. In addition, on 26 September 2013 the government proposed a law which, if voted, would (...)

Industrial action planned over budget

The three main trade union confederations - CGIL, CSIL and UIL - along with their public service federations - FP-CGIL, CISL-FP, UIL-PA and UIL-FPL - are planning industrial action in protest at the government’s latest spending plans. The unions argue that there is increasing pressure to modernise public administration but rather than invest in training and career development the government is cutting jobs and freezing pay. Nothing is being done to tackle precarious employment conditions nor (...)

Public sector agreement on psycho-social risks

The French government, eight trade unions and the representatives of public employers signed a framework agreement on 22 October on the prevention of psychosocial risks. The agreement requires each public employer to draw up a "psychosocial risk assessment and prevention plan" by 2015. Other undertakings include better resourcing of health, safety and working conditions committees (HSC), more time off for duties, and of preventive health services. An initial assessment report on (...)

Union launches "Pay up for travel time" campaign

Public services union UNISON has launched a campaign to secure higher pay for home care workers. A recent study exposed the fact that between 150000 and 200000 home care workers are effectively paid less than the minimum wage because they don’t receive any payment for time travelling between the homes of the people they care for. The union is also highlighting the pressure on staff and the impact on the quality of care when home care workers are limited to 15 minutes per home visit. Read (...)

Union develops tool to highlight savings from safety initiatives

The FOA public services union has developed a new tool to expose the monetary costs of poor working conditions. The union wants to use it to show the impact of stress, incorrect lifting and other health and safety problems can cost a workplace. FOA will use the tool to improve the working environment particularly in areas such as elder care, day care and in hospitals. The system will give an estimate of what the individual workplace can save money by dealing with safety problems like hard (...)

Hopes for increased recruitment as agreement delivers savings

The IMPACT public service union gas welcomed the government’s acknowledgment that payroll savings delivered by the Haddington Road agreement will be worth around €500 million in 2014 – in the region of 20% of next year’s budgetary adjustment. The union also welcomed the signs of an easing of pressure on staffing. The government announced that a “reform dividend,” in the form of limited public service recruitment, was now planned. The union said it would aim to consult with the relevant (...)

Preparing for bargaining in handicapped care sector

The FNV Abvakabo is making preparations for negotiations in the handicapped care sector where the collective agreement covers around 170000 workers. The agreement runs until 1 March 2014 and along with a normal survey of workers, the union is planning a meeting of works council representatives to discuss some of the main issues affecting workers. The union believes that works council reps will be well informed about the challenges facing workers in the sector, what their needs are and what (...)

Call for job security agreement at health company

Ver.di’s negotiating committee at the Fresenius/Helios health group is calling for a job and employment security agreement following the company’s acquisition of 43 clinics and other facilities from the Rhön clinic group. The union is extremely worried that employees and patients will lose out as the merged organisation looks for savings to help fund the takeover. Ver.di representatives are already reporting concerns about vacant jobs not being filled, non-renewal of temporary contracts, (...)

New agreement with health co-operatives

The Kommunal municipal and health union has signed a new three-year health agreement with the KFO employers’ organisation which represents mainly co-operative organisations. The agreement follow the pattern of others in the sector with a minimum SEK 1700 (€196) increase over three years for full-time workers, improved parental leave and a commitment not to require employees to work split shifts. The minimum wage previously applying to 19-year-olds will now apply from the age of 18. Read more (...)

Unions protest over Red Cross changes

The four trade unions - FP-CGIL, CISL-Fp, Uil-Pa and Fialp-CISAL - organised a demonstration outside the Chamber of Deputies on 17 October calling for a delay in implementing legislation affecting the Red Cross. The unions are worried that the proposed change of status of the organisation from a public entity to one covered by private law will leave workers vulnerable to job cuts and changes to pay and conditions. The unions want a year’s postponement to enable them to negotiate to protect (...)

Health union runs bargaining seminar

The health workers’ trade union organised a two-day collective bargaining seminar on 10-11 October with contributions from the health ministry, two members of parliament, the deputy chair of the trade union confederation and EPSU. The seminar was aimed at local and regional representatives and included discussion of local initiatives to improve pay and employment conditions. Read more at > BTUHW (...)

Social care workers step up action

Over 100 social care workers, members of the UNISON public services union, are due to take a further 10 days of strike action. They are protesting against their employer’s decision to cut workers’ pay and conditions and in some cases basic pay has been reduced by one-third. Over 80% of the workers are women and predominantly part-time. UNISON has tried to negotiate with the company, Future Directions, which is actually owned by Calderstones NHS Trust, part of the National Health Services. The (...)

Pay and conditions under attack in health sector

Services union ver.di highlights the findings of a recent TV documentary that exposes the permament pressure on pay and conditions in the health sector. Health workers are being outsourced to subsidiary companies where they face lower pay and even the transfer onto so-called service contracts rather than proper employment contracts. The use of agency work is also spreading. Ver.di argues that these changes are having a negative and potentially dangerous impact as morale falls, workers (...)

Three-year agreement in private care

The Kommunal municipal workers’ union has signed a new collective agreement with the ALMEGA service employers’ organisation covering employees in home care. The agreement runs from 1 September 2013 to 30 September 2016 and provides for a minimum salary increase of SEK 1700 (€196) full-time workers, much more than the employers’ initial offer. The increase is flat rate in krona increases in line with other industry agreements aimed at benefiting the lower paid. Minimum salaries for full-time (...)

High turnout for ambulance strike

The FSC-CCOO and FSP-UGT trade union federations report a high level of support for the first day of the four-day stoppage in the Catalan ambulance service. More than nine out of 10 joined the strike taking account of the workers who remain on duty as part of the agreement to provide a minimum service. The strike is in protest against the employer’s decision to cut pay by 9.2% for the nearly 5000 workers in the service. The strike went ahead after arbitration at the Catalan labour tribunal (...)

Day of action and two-day strike against austerity

The member organisations of the ADEDY civil service confederation will be taking part in a week of action and a two-day strike against the latest austerity measures being imposed on the public sector. The health sector is under particular pressure following a 25% budget cut in the last two years while some 25000 civil servants are being put into a relocation pool on reduced pay while waiting to find out if they will be relocated or finally dismissed. A further 4000 are set to lose their (...)

Central agreement negotiated

The three trade union confederations SAK, STTK and Akava reached a central agreement on wages and salaries with the employers’ organisations at the end of August. The agreement includes two increases in pay with a flat rate rise of €20 beginning four months after the agreement is valid and a 0.4% increase a year later. The agreement runs for two years with an option to extend it for a third year. This will be decided in June 2015, after the parliamentary elections in April 2015 and the (...)

Union calls for boycott in support of sacked care worker

The vpod public services union is supporting a migrant worker who was sacked by the Spitex Perspecta care company. Bozena Domanska is a Polish care worker who appeared in a TV documentary exposing the issue of inadequate pay for 24-hour working in the care sector. Although the company was not mentioned in the TV programme, it still decided to sack Bozena. The vpod is supporting Bozena in a claim for unfair dismissal and is calling for a boycott of Perspecta if they don’t reinstate her. (...)

Union says it will protect employees affected by health merger

The ver.di services union says that it will aim to protect workers’ jobs and pay and conditions if affected by the plans of the Fresenius Helios group to buy 43 hospitals and 15 outpatient facilities from the Rhön-Klinikum group. The merger would make the group the biggest in Germany with 117 hospitals. Without existing agreements on employment protection ver.di is concerned that the Fresenius will try to recoup some of the €3 billion cost of the merger by reducing employment costs. The union (...)

Unions oppose cuts to sick pay

Trade unions representing ambulance workers - Unison and the GMB - have rejected the decision by NHS employers in England to change sick pay arrangements that could lead to cuts of up to 25% for some workers. The employers imposed the change on 1 September arguing that it brought ambulance workers in line with other groups in the health service. The unions argue that ambulance workers have long had different employment conditions and have criticised the employers for their reluctance to (...)

Social care workers continue fight to defend pay and conditions

Further to the report in epsucob@NEWS 10, more than 100 employees of the Future Directions social care company are taking five days’ strike action in defence of their pay and conditions. Public service union UNISON says that the company, actually owned by Calderstones NHS Trust, part of the national health service, won the contract in Rochdale in North West England knowing that it would have to make cuts. A demonstration took place in the town on 29 August and UNISON is calling on its local (...)

ver.di negotiates new church agreement

Services union ver.di, along with the GEW teaching union and GKD church trade union, has negotiated a new collective agreement with the protestant church covering the Berlin, Brandenburg and Oberlausitz region. Apart from one other regional church, this is the only collective agreement negotiated between the unions and the church. Ver.di hopes that it can become the model for further collective agreements, particularly in relation to the Diakonie - the social welfare organisations run by (...)

Care workers fight for their jobs

Members of the FNV Abvakabo public services union are campaigning to defend their jobs in the face of plans by the Sensire care company to dismiss 1100 employees. The company claims that it is forced into this position by local authority cutbacks, but the union argues that funding is still there for 2014 and above all there continues to be the need for home care services. Workers believe that the company wants to sack all 1100 and then rehire employees on worse terms and conditions. (...)

Union lodges claim with private care providers

The Kommunal local government union has submitted a claim for improved pay and conditions to private care providers. Around 30,000 members in eldercare, care and treatment activities and care services and surgeries are covered by three agreements that are valid until 31 October 2013. The union is looking for a SEK 1740 (€200) per month increase in line with the increase awarded in local government. It also wants to see more done to get temporary workers on permanent contracts and to ensure (...)

Ambulance staff plan strike against pay cut

Ambulance workers in Catalonia will strike on 9,10,11 and 12 of September if the ACAE employers’ organisation doesn’t retract a 9.2% cut in pay. The unions are due to meet the employers in negotiations on 6 September. The unions FSC-CCOO, FSP-UGT and USOC have been mobilising the 4200 workers during August with a major demonstration on Monday 26 August in front of the regional authority. The ambulance workers are angry about the unilateral decision to cut pay made during the holiday period (...)

Union warns against changes to working time rules

The FOA public services union is warning the government against any plans to change working time rules that regulate night work. The union is aware that many of its members are happy to work at night but that this is the result of the extra allowances they receive and time off. The government is looking to make savings of DKR 12 billion (€1.6 billion) and FOA fears that the cuts will include cutting allowances and time off for night workers as well as allowing less time in notifying rosters. (...)

Strike at Red Cross training institute

Members of the ver.di trade union at the Red Cross training institute in Berlin are on strike for higher pay and to ensure that old and new employees are on the same pay scale. The institute provides vocational training for workers with mental disabilities. The employers have not increased pay for 11 years and ver.di is calling for increases to bring pay levels in line with those in the main public sector agreements. The employers want the strike to end before any further negotiations take (...)

Report reveals shows how care workers miss out on minimum wage

A new report by the Resolution Foundation, a research group focusing on low pay issues, reveals how many home care workers are effectively paid less than the minimum wage. The research shows that while formally workers are paid at or above the minimum rate of £6.19 (€7.24), they tend to lose out because their pay is linked to the time of their home visits. They are not paid for their travelling time and the amount of time for each visit is often less than the amount they need to deliver (...)

Action over low pay by outsourced NHS workers

The PCS public and civil service union has organised industrial action over pay at the Equiniti company which provides pensions payments systems to the NHS. The strikes are calling on the company to pay a living wage and to honour an agreement to benchmark pay against public and private sector comparators. And more at > PCS

Main unions sidelined in health agreement

The FSP-UGT and FSS-CCOO public service and health federations have criticised the Ministry of Health for negotiating an agreement on a sustainable health service without involving the main representative trade unions. The unions have previously lodged complaints about the Ministry’s attacks on collective bargaining and the latest incident has been attacked by the FSP-UGT for undermining good faith in the bargaining process. The FSS-CCOO recalls all the various agreements on skills, training (...)

Unions protect pay levels in Red Cross

Trade unions organising in the Red Cross (FP CGIL, FP CISL, UIL and CISAL) have managed to secure an agreement on supplementary payments that protects employees’ purchasing power over the last two years. Although bargaining over basic pay is still frozen, unions ensured that the Red Cross used additional funds to cover pay rather than allocated on other areas of spending. The unions have also ensured that they will be involved in negotiations over the process of transforming the organisation (...)

Taking action to save home care jobs

Members of FNV Abvakabo have been getting widespread support in their campaign to defend jobs in the home care sector. Although the government has revised down its initial plans to cut 100000 jobs, 50000 jobs are still under threat. In the latest action FNV Abvakabo organised a demonstration at the head offices of the Sensire home care company which is planning 1100 redundancies already even though funding has not yet been cut and the government’s plans have not received parliamentary (...)

Federations discuss skills and training with health minister

The general secretaries of the three main public service federations FP-CGIL, CISL-FP and UIL FP/FPL met with the health minister to discuss contracts, skills, training, professional status and job security as essential elements of a health service for all citizens. The minister indicated her willingness to make progress on these issues. Apart from the need to renew agreements that have not been renegotiated since before 2009, the unions underline the need for continuity of care and for (...)

Two-year deal in university medical centres

A new two-year agreement has been negotiated to cover the 67000 workers employed by University Medical Centres. There will be a 1% pay increase on 1 October 2013 and a further 1% on 1 August 2014 along with a €500 payment to protect purchasing power. Staff development was also part of the negotiations and each worker’s personal budget will be increased from 1.3% to 1.5% of pay with workers also allowed to use the budget for more time off. Younger workers will benefit from higher pay as youth (...)

Union warns of strike action over austerity measures

The vpod public services union says that it is considering industrial action if the Bern cantonal (regional) government goes ahead with a package of severe cuts. The union says that 600 jobs are under threat including many jobs in health and social services. The Canton’s workforce is also facing cuts in pay. Vpod will be discussing its response with the employees and the institutions that are affected, highlighting the serious impact that these cuts will have on the quantity and quality of (...)

Health professionals plan strike for 22 July

Over 100,000 health professionals and managerial staff will take four hours’ of strike action on 22 July. They also plan other forms of industrial action in protest at cutbacks in the health sector. The action involves federations of the three main trade union confederations - CGIL, CSIL and UIL - as well as more than 15 other trade unions. As well as calling for more funding for the service the unions’ demands include demands on collective agreements, trade union rights, career progression, (...)

Union promotes ethical care charter

Public services union UNISON is promoting an ethical care charter to improve the quality of home care provision and the pay and conditions of home care workers. A survey by the union found many workers on low pay and facing increased pressure of work. Most reported seeing their pay fall, their working time changed while being given more duties. UNISON wants to see councils sign up to the charter to ensure that the quality of care and pay and conditions of workers are taken properly into (...)

Outsourcing means fewer hours or two jobs!

The FOA public services union reveals that cleaners who have seen their work outsourced faced the choice of working fewer hours or taking up a second job to make up their pay. This means for some starting the first job at six in the morning and not finishing the second job until seven in the evening. The union gives the specific example of nursing home cleaners now employed by the ISS multinational. The cleaning was outsourced by Velje municipality last year and the workers were on the same (...)

Care workers fight to defend pay and jobs

Members of the UNISON public services union employed as care workers in the west of Scotland and north west England are facing cuts in pay and jobs. Employees of Cornerstone Community Care in Scotland are being balloted for industrial action in protest at the company’s plans to cut 155 jobs. Those who are not retained as support workers face being demoted to an assistant role with a £2000-£3000 (€2350-€3500) cut in salary. Meanwhile employees of Future Direction, a contractor working for (...)

Unions strike against austerity

CGSP Admi Press Release The CGSP/ACOD and SLFP/VSOA public service federations have called a general strike for 24 June in protest against austerity measures that are affecting pay, pensions and jobs. The unions are highlighting the impact of cuts on the quality and quantity of public services and underlining the link between maintaining those services and protecting the pay and conditions of the workers who deliver them. Read more at > ACOD (NL) And at > VSOA (NL) And at > SLFP (...)

Migrant care workers set up union network

RESPEKT@vpod is a new network for care and domestic workers set up in the VPOD public services union. Following VPOD’s support of a Polish migrant worker who successfully secured compensation after being sacked for questioning her pay, the union was approached by many other migrant care workers seeking advice and information. RESPEKT@vpod is a response to these demands in a sector known for exploitative pay and employment conditions. The network is seen as particularly important for workers (...)

Federations criticise government for continuing pay freeze

Six public service federations (CGT, FO, FSU, SOLIDAIRES, CFTC and CFE-CGC) have agreed a joint statement attacking the government for imposing a further year’s pay freeze on public sector workers. The government has stated that it will not discuss uprating the index point (the basis on which public sector salaries are calculated) until the middle of next year. The unions argue that this will mean an unprecedented four-year freeze in pay. The federations are also critical of plans for (...)

Federations call for unblocking of public sector bargaining

The general secretaries of the four main public service federations - Fp-Cgil, Cisl-Fp, Uil-Fpl and Uil-Pa - are calling on members of the parliamentary employment committee to recommend a re-opening of collective bargaining in the public sector. The committee is considering draft legislation from the government that includes a proposal to extend the freeze on bargaining that was introduced in 2011. The unions argue that it is unfair to impose further economic hardship on workers who have (...)

Members back new childcare agreement

Workers in the childcare sector have given their backing to a new collective agreement that will run until 31 December 2014. The deal was a long time coming with the employers rejecting the last two agreements leaving the sector with an updated agreement for over 18 months. There will be increases of 1% from August this year and a further 1% from next February, with lump sums of €200 in March 2014 and €150 in September 2014. The end-of-year bonus will be abolished in 2014 replace by a general (...)

Health workers demonstrate

Health workers took strike action and demonstrated outside parliament on 7 June in protest at the drastic impact of austerity on the health system. Massive reductions in funding as well as cuts to pay and jobs were making it impossible for workers to deliver services. Read more at > Euronews

Union says childcare money has disappeared in savings

The FOA public services union argues that much of the DKK 500 million (€67m) that was supposed to go to increased staffing in childcare has been siphoned off into savings by many local authorities. The union warns that staffing levels in childcare of a major concern and that a recent study shows that 47% of childcare institutions are not increasing staffing while 29% are actually cutting staff numbers. Read more at > FOA (...)

New public sector agreement out to ballot

After the rejection of the revised national public sector agreement (known as Croke Park II), unions are now taking different positions on a re-negotiated deal known as the Haddington Road agreement. The largest public sector union Impact had agreed to the original deal and will support the revised agreement saying this will protect certain conditions relating to flexible, part-time and overtime working for lower paid members and benefit higher paid members in recouping pay cuts. However, (...)

Union research shows 50000 cut in health jobs

The FSS-CCOO health service confederation has provided research showing that over 50000 jobs have been cut from public health services over the past two years. Between the first quarter of 2011 and the same period of 2013, 52,800 jobs were cut, 41,600 of which were temporary, with the vast majority going in 2012. The union says that it is clear that services are at risk as so many fewer workers are having to respond to increased demand from an aging population. Read more at > FSS-CCOO (...)

Unions sign agreement over future bargaining

Services union ver.di and the Marburger Bund doctors’ union have reached an agreement with the social welfare organisation of the Protestant church in Lower Saxony. This marks a move away from the church’s previous practice of excluding the trade unions. As a first step the unions negotiated a pay increase for the 30,000 employees of the church in Lower Saxony. Most workers will get 5.5% in three stages but the employers would only agree to 2.5% for workers involved in eldercare. Read more at (...)

Carers demonstrate over cuts to pay and conditions

Carers and their supporters demonstrated in Rochdale in the North West of England on 25 May in protest at plans by their employer, Future Directions, to cut their pay and conditions. The workers had voted for strike action on 25-27 May but this was blocked by court action. The company won a disabled care contract from Rochdale Council last October and then revealed plans to cut workers’ pay and conditions. Read more at > UNISON North West And at > (...)

Protest planned over further austerity

Unions in the CGTP confederation are organising a national demonstration on 25 May in protest at the latest austerity measures being imposed by the government under pressure from the the troika of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund. Included in the measures are 30000 public sector job cuts, an increase in weekly hour for public sector workers from 35 to 40 without any increase in pay and an increase in retirement age to 66. Read more at > STAL (...)

Unions call for negotiations over pay and jobs

The public sector federations FSC-CCOO and FSP-UGT along with the CSI-F federation have called on the government to open negotiations with the unions. The immediate issue to be resolved in repayment of the Christmas bonus. The unions say that the courts have supported the unions’ claim that cutting the payment was unconstitutional and they want to ensure the government deal with the question. They are also concerned about the impact of job cuts across the public sector and lack of (...)

Unions campaign against public sector pay cut

Public sector unions are consulting their members over organising a major day of action to protest at pay cuts and attacks on collective bargaining. The unions began their anti-government campaigning at this year’s May Day rally and are planning an action that would effectively blocked key services to demonstrate the importance and value of public services to citizens and the economy. Read more at news website > Dalje (EN) And further at > Dalje (...)

Unions disagree over care deal

The FNV Abvakabo public services union has refused to endorse a new agreement in the care sector because it says that it involves widespread cuts to services and the loss of up to 50000 jobs. The union says that it came up with many proposals for savings in administration and top salaries but these were rejected. The CNV Publieke Zaak public services union decided to sign the agreement arguing that it involved much fewer job cuts than the government had initially proposed and that the (...)

Big step towards equality in new agreement

Following mediation the Kommunal local government union has endorsed a new agreement which it sees as a great success. The main pay increase will be SEK 1700 (€200) up from the employers’ initial offer of SEK 1500 (€175). Kommunal sees this as an important step in preventing any increase in the pay gap between male-and female-dominated industries. The agreement involves a number of other improvements including initiatives to reduce split shifts; better conditions for temporary workers; (...)

Call for protection for whistleblowers in health sector

The ver.di services union participated in the Bundestag (parliament) health committee to call for protection for whistleblowers. The union said that around 6% of total health spending is lost to fraud and corruption but that there is no protection for employees in doctors’ practices or hospitals who expose this. Claims for operations that haven’t taken place or moving appointments to fit into other accounting periods are among the kinds of things that are done to cheat the system and that (...)

Union takes case to International Labour Organisation

The vpod/SSP public services union has lodged a complaint over the right to strike with the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The case involves employees of the Neunberger Hospital who took strike action at the end of 2012 in protest at the decision of the Hospital’s new owner, Genolier, to end the collective agreement and worsen employment conditions. The hospital sacked the striking workers and their dismissal was upheld by the courts despite the fact that the right to strike is in (...)

Union members reject Croke Park II

Following membership ballots, public service unions have voted to reject the recently negotiated national public sector agreement - Croke Park II. The deal involved further changes to pay and conditions in response to the government’s claim that it needed to cut €1 billion from the public sector pay bill. Leaders of the biggest unions, IMPACT and SIPTU, recommended the deal as the best possible under difficult circumstances but other unions, including the CPSU civil service union and the (...)

Union cautious about negotiations with health ministry

The FSP-UGT public service federation has welcomed the announcement of a meeting of unions and the health ministry on 29 April. However, the union remains to be convinced about whether the health minister is prepared to open proper negotiations and believes that the meeting may simply be a way of meeting its formal commitment to negotiate. The FSP-UGT along with the FSC-CCOO and other unions announced they were taking legal action against the minister over the denial of the right to (...)

New agreement for staff in primary care

The FNV Abvakabo and CNV Publieke Zaak public service unions have negotiated a new agreement covering staff employed in primary care. The agreement runs from 1 January to 31 December 2013 and includes a general pay increase of 1.75% (inflation in the year to March was 2.9%). It also clarifies responsibilities on training and that any mandatory training should be paid for by the employer and carried out in work time. Read more at > FNV Abvakabo (NL) And at > CNV Publieke Zaak (...)

Ambulance workers’ action continues

Ambulance workers have rejected a "final" offer from employers with their union, FNV Abvakabo, making clear that the proposed agreement would involve a deterioration of employment conditions, particularly for paramedics. Workers had already begun a campaign of industrial action involving working to rule and this will continue. Read more at > FNV Abvakabo (NL)

JHL launches "good working day" campaign

The JHL public services union has begun a nationwide campaign of consultation to find out what workers think makes for a good working day and good working conditions. Union officers and shop stewards will be taking part in meetings all around the country, beginning in the north and ending in the south in December this year. The union says that these meetings will be a good opportunity to listen to and try to resolve workplace problems and will provide useful information for the development (...)

ver.di to challenge ruling over right to strike

Services union ver.di is submitting a case to the constitutional court challenging a ruling by the federal labour court last year on the right to strike in church-run organisations. Church-run organisations, mainly providing health and social services, employ around 1.2 million workers and claim special treatment under the law. The federal labour court ruling means that any industrial action by ver.di is open to challenge. Ver.di believes that this needs to challenged under the constitution (...)

Four-year agreement for municipal white-collar workers

Vision, the union representing mainly white-collar workers in local government, has agreed a new four-year deal which it says breaks new ground. There are general increases of at least 2.6% and 2.2% in the first two years but then in years three and four the focus will be on individual wage increases. The union believes that individual increases will allow workers to secure higher pay increases and will reduce the structural pay gap. Vision also secured improved benefits for working (...)

Municipal union plans strike action over pay

The Kommunal local government union, representing mainly nurses and blue-collar workers in health, cleaning and catering is planning a campaign of industrial action beginning on 29 April. A pay increase of 6.8% over three years is on the table in line with developments in industry. However, Kommunal wants a flat-rate increase of 1740 SEK (€205) as a way of providing lower paid workers with a higher increase. Kommunal argues this is vital step in tackling the lower pay levels in sectors where (...)

Unions in joint call to restart collective bargaining

The public service federations of CGIL, CISL and UIL have issued a joint statement calling on the government to unblock negotiations in the public sector. The unions were reacting to a report on pay and jobs from the ARAN agency that negotiates with public sector unions on behalf of the government. The report shows a 1.6% fall in public sector pay. Taking into account inflation during the 2010-2012 period this amounts to a 7.2% cut in real terms. The report also reveals that 265000 jobs (...)

Unions reject extension of pay freeze

The main federations in the public services from CGIL, CISL and UIL have all expressed their concern about the threat to extend the freeze on negotiations in the public sector. FP CISL highlights the impact on pay after three years of pay freezes with average pay in the sector at €26600 and even lower in local government (€22000) and health (€23000). Read more at > FP CGIL (IT) And at > FP-CISL (...)

New national agreement put to vote

Public sector workers are voting on whether or not to accept a revised national agreement on pay and conditions. The "Croke Park" agreement was originally negotiated in 2010 and included a substantial package of savings agreed by the unions in order to protect basic pay. The government began negotiations over a new agreement after threatening to impose a further €1 billion in cuts to the public sector pay bill. IMPACT reports that unions managed win concessions on a number of measures (...)

Ambulance workers take action

Ambulance workers in different regions are taking action in support of demands for an improved collective agreement. The action involves planned patient transport and not emergency calls and will mean workers taking more time over their duties rather than rushing to deal with their excessive workloads. High workloads mean that they are often under pressure to break rules and guidelines. A survey of members showed overwhelming dissatisfaction with the employers’ offer in relation to pay, job (...)

Hospital workers take strike action

Workers at hospitals run by religious orders in the Upper Austria region have taken strike action after a completely unacceptable pay offer from the employers. The vida services union says that the 10,000 workers employed by the hospitals have seen pay fall behind inflation over the past three years and the current offer would be an effective pay cut as the employers want to reduce payments for on-call time and overtime. The union reports a positive reaction from patients but attempts by (...)

Union targets split shifts in bargaining

The Kommunal municipal union will be aiming for a reduction in the use of split shifts in the care sector as part of its main bargaining demands this year. The union estimates that around 100,000 workers effectively have unpaid and involuntary break periods because they work split shifts but don’t have enough time to go home and return to work. A 13-hour day with a four-hour break in the middle is not uncommon. The problem is particularly acute in elder care where employers exploit this (...)

Unions agree new deal in health and social services

The GPA-DJP and vida services unions have agreed new pay and conditions covering workers in the private and non-profit (church-run) health and social services sector. This is the first time that these groups of workers have been covered by the same negotiations although not all elements of the deal were agreed the church employers. There is an increase of 2.75% on minimum rates from 1 February with other pay rates rising by 2.7% (inflation is currently running at 2.8%). Other elements of (...)

Minister refuses to budge on pay and waiting day

Public service trade unions have taken action in recent weeks in the lead up to a meeting with the public services minister on 7 February over a range of issues related to pay and conditions. Although the Minister, Marylise Lebranchu, made positive moves on some issues the unions were disappointed that she refused to budge on two key points. The government is insisting on another pay freeze this year while also maintaining the waiting day that applies in cases of sickness absence. Read (...)

Unions put forward key demands in mental health sector

The four unions negotiating for employees in the mental health sector, FNV Abvakabo, CNV Publieke Zaak, NU’91 and FBZ, have put forward their main demands to the GGZ employers’ organisation. The collective agreement expired on 1 January 2013 and the unions are looking for an overall pay bill increase of 3% with 2.5% specifically for wages. The unions underline the urgent need to tackle recruitment challenges and make the sector more attractive to younger workers while also trying to retain (...)

Members back changes to health agreement

Members of UNISON in England have given their support to changes to "Agenda for Change", the main national agreement covering the pay and conditions of workers in the National Health Service (NHS). UNISON argues that the changes will be important in maintaining a national agreement and preventing the break away of more NHS Trusts looking for local or regional pay arrangements. The changes will mean that progression up the pay scale will depend on individuals’ skills, competences and (...)

General strike call for 20 February

The ADEDY and GSEE public and private sector trade union confederations have called a general strike for 20 February in protest at the continuing pressure for cuts coming from the Troika of European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund. Civil servants are the target of next round of cuts with the Troika wanting to see 25000 dismissed or transferred to other areas. Trade unions have also reacted angrily to the government’s actions to prevent transport workers from (...)

Government promises end to cuts

The government has said that current proposals for cuts in the public sector pay bill will be the last call on public sector workers. Negotiations are underway for an extension of the "Croke Park" national agreement that dates from 2010. The government has threatened to impose €1 billion in cuts if a deal isn’t reached. Unions are still waiting for some of the details of the proposals but have already rejected a five-hour increase in weekly working hours. They say that they want to see (...)

Getting the facts straight on public sector pay

The FP-CGIL, UIL FPL and UIL PA public sector federations have come together to produce data on public sector employment and pay. The aim is to try to counter much of the anti-public sector propaganda that has emerged in recent years. The data is included in a powerpoint presentation that looks at pay trends, overall public sector pay spending as a percentage of GDP and in relation to population. The figures show Italy as comparable with EU averages and other countries and that negotiated (...)

Public sector strike against pay cuts

Workers across the public sector in Slovenia took strike action on 23 January in protest at government plans to cut jobs and reduce pay by 5%. This follows a pay cut of 3% in 2012. An estimated 100000 workers supported the strike while up to 15000 people joined a national demonstration in Ljubljana. Read more at > Reuters (EN) And at > Sky News (EN)

Nurses campaign against low-paid graduate scheme

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) and the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) are lobbying and campaigning against a recent government initiative to recruit 1000 graduate nurses. The unions argue that the jobs being offered effectively replace agency and temporary staff but on lower rates of pay. The new rate (€22000 a year) is 80% of the reduced salary scale introduced in February 2012 but 39% lower than the effective starting rate that applied in 2009 before the public (...)

Public sector pay in line with other countries

Public service trade union Impact argues that public sector pay in Ireland is line with that in other countries. The union quotes figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as well as its own data from a detailed comparison with public sector jobs in Germany. It also points out that comparisons are often made without taking account of the 7% "pensions levy" imposed by the government in 2009. Read more at > Impact (...)

Day of action over pay and jobs on 31 January

Three public service trade unions - CGT, FSU and Solidaires - have called a day of action, involving strikes, on 31st January. The protest is to put pressure on the government to stop job cuts in the public sector and to agree an across-the-board pay increase for all public sector workers. The unions point out that nearly a million civil servants and public sector employees are on pay rates close to the national minimum wage. Read more at > CGT (...)

Study looks at impact of outsourcing

A new study commissioned by FIPSU, the group of nine public sector unions, finds that in many cases any cost savings arising from outsourcing have been at the expense of employees. The report also found that workers affected by outsourcing end up being covered by inferior collective agreements. The reasons for outsourcing are often political and ideological and many public sector employers were reluctant to reveal what kind of cost savings or quality changes the outsourcing had brought. (...)

Minimum wage increase for kindergarten workers

Services union vida has agreed a €45 increase in the minimum wage covering assistants in private kindergartens that is regulated by the Ministry of Social Affairs. This will bring the monthly minimum payment to €1325. Read more at > vida (DE)

Negotiations begin for 120000 health workers

For the first time, the vida and GPA-DJP trade unions are negotiating simultaneously 120000 health and social workers covered by three agreements - private sector, charities and churches. They are calling for a real wage increase that is a just reward for the physical and mental stress endured by many workers in the sector. The unions also want to see changes to pay that recognise workers’ experience in previous jobs, that take account of parental leave and that ensure that Sunday and night (...)

Health workers strike to defend collective agreement

Health workers in the CGT, FO and CFTC trade unions are to strike on 29 November in protest at employer plans to undermine their collective agreement. The agreement, originally negotiated in 1951, covers around 230000 employees in 3000 non-profit health and social institutions. The FEHAP employers’ organisation is looking to reduce costs and increase flexibility. Read more at > CGT (...)

Health workers strike on 29 November

Health workers will be taking industrial action on 29 November in protest at cuts to the health sector and the unilateral decision by the government to end the collective agreement without any form of social dialogue. Read more at > HSSMS-MT (HR) And our solidarity message and letter of protest to Croatian government at > EPSU (EN, HR)

Health unions win pay increases after long strike

Unions representing doctors and health workers agreed on pay increases, reduced workloads and new working time arrangements at the end of October after lengthy strike action. From 1 March 2013 pay for nurses will increase by 17.5% and for doctors by 11%. The health sector minimum wage, covering many care workers, will increase by 23%. Read more at > Baltic Times news website (EN) And at > Estonian Public Broadcasting news website (...)

Four-day strike by health workers

Health unions in Madrid have agreed to four days of strike action on 26-27 November and 4-5 December in protest at plans by the regional government to cut over 1000 jobs. There will also be a demonstration in the city on 27 November. Meanwhile, as part of the protest members of the unions’ executive committees have locked themselves into the offices of the region’s ministry of health building. Read more at > FSC-CCOO (ES) And at > FSP-UGT (...)

Union continues to call for right to strike in church organisations

A hearing in the federal labour court in Erfurt on 20 November was due to consider the question of the right to strike in church organisations. This is a key issue for ver.di members working for the Elisabeth Foundation in Darmstadt. The Foundation is part of the Agaplesion health group which takes advantage of the so-called third way used by church organisations to avoid applying the employment laws that apply in the rest of the economy. Workers at the Elisabeth Foundation are calling for (...)

Collective bargaining challenges in healthcare

EPSU has collaborated with the SOZ ZaSS health union in producing an overview of recent developments in collective bargaining in the health sector. The article provides some background on the key negotiations and the challenges faced in securing improved funding for the sector as well as better pay and conditions for the workers. The situation is similar to other countries in Central and Eastern Europe and also raises questions about the potential of general healthcare unions to work with (...)

Unions call for single childcare agreement

The vida and GPA-DJP private services unions are calling for a national, sectoral agreement covering all workers in childcare institutions. They argue that currently workers in the sector are covered by a range of different provisions - an educational collective agreement, the BAGS private health care agreement and in some cases by company-level agreements. This means considerable variation in pay and conditions and the unions want to see a more consistent approach, particularly in areas (...)

Recent developments in social dialogue, collective bargaining and industrial action in the Slovak health care system

(Brussels, 8 October 2012) The summary information contains and attached to this article highlights some aspects of recent developments in collective bargaining on pay and working conditions and industrial action in the sector of health and social services in Slovakia. It has been compiled as EPSU considers that the trends and conflicts described are far from being a unique feature of the Slovak Republic, but rather well reflect challenges to social dialogue, social partnership and (...)

Government ends private care home strike

The government has brought an end to the strike in private care homes with compulsory arbitration. The government argued that the strike was life-threatening to patients. The union response was that it was, in fact, the low level of staffing in private care homes that posed the real threat. The unions are hopeful that arbitration will produce a positive result in terms of ensuring that workers in private care homes get the same pay and pensions as those in the public sector. Read more at > (...)

Union fears new government keeping old policies

The CGT public service federation notes that a recent report on the previous government’s key RGPP policy - general review of public policy - acknowledges some of the problems, such as lack of social dialogue, but argues that the policy still needs to be implemented. In the meantime, the union fears that the new government’s plans for job cuts and pay freezes in the public sector will mean there is no real break with the policies of the previous government. Read more at > CGT Services Publics (...)

New agreement in health sector

A new national collective labour agreement in the healthcare sector was signed last month by the Minister of Health, trade unions and employer organisations. The agreement is a result of lengthy negotiations in the Sectoral Council for Tripartite Cooperation in Healthcare and applies to all health facilities. The agreement protects existing social benefits and provides for an increase in monthly salaries of between 10% and 20%. Employees who work on on-call receive increases in their hourly (...)

Municipalities must spend more on childcare staff

The government has committed DK 500 million (€67m) to improving staffing ratios in child care centres. The FOA public services union has been concerned that some local authorities will use the additional funds for other purposes. However, the government has reaffirmed that the money must be used to increase child care staff. Read more at > FOA (DK)

Pay rise for private care workers

Municipal sector union Kommunal has negotiated a new 14-month agreement covering 25000 workers in private health care. There will be a SEK 655 (€77) increase on monthly salaries including the minimum wage in the collective agreement. Workers will also now be paid from the first minute of on-call rather than after the first 30 minutes. Fixed-term contracts will automatically become permanent after three years rather than four and there will be a gradual reduction in the use of fixed-term (...)

Bargaining demands in private care

The Kommunal municipal union has set out its key demands in negotiations with private care companies. The union is aiming for a monthly increase of SEK 860 (€103) and overall around 3.5%. It also has a range of other demands including a limits on temporary work and requirements to turn temporary contracts into permanent ones. It also wants action on gender equality. Read more at > Kommunal (...)

Care home workers take action over jobs

Members of the FNV Abvakabo public service trade union working in nursing and care homes have been taking industrial action for the first time. The workers are protesting over pressure of work, wage dumping in the sector and want a guarantee that extra funding for the sector will be used to increase employment. Abvakabo members voted against the VVT collective agreement for the sector as they argued that it didn’t address pressure of work, low pay and flexbilisation. Read more at > FNV (...)

Striking for equal pensions

Workers are on strike in private nursing homes following the failure to negotiate improved pensions with the NHO Service employers’ organisation. Not only do private nursing homes offer much lower pensions than in the public and non-profit sector but the retirement age is also five years higher at 67. Read more at > Fagforbundet (NO)

Union calls for action over strikebreaking

Ver.di has called on the state government of Hamburg to intervene in a dispute involving workers at the Asklepios-owned hospital on the island of Sylt. the Asklepios company is offering bonuses to is workers from its hospital in Hamburg to come to Sylt to break the strike of 340 workers there. The Hamburg government owns 25.1% of the Asklepios hospital in Hamburg and so, ver.di argues, should try to stop the company’s blatent strike-breaking. Ver.di is also angry because the Hamburg hospital (...)

Federations mobilise against threats to Red Cross

The FP CGIL and UIL PA public sector federations are continuing to mobilise their members in the fact of threats by the government to reorganise the Red Cross emergency services. The unions are concerned about a change in status of the organisation - effective privatisation - and about commitments on employment. The next meeting between unions and the Ministry of Health is planned for 25 July. Read more at > UIL PA (IT) And at > FP CGIL (...)

Agreement negotiated following sacking threat

Ver.di has negotiated a new agreement covering 5600 employees of the Damp Group, part of the Fresenius health multinational. The agreement was reached following a major conflict where Fresenius had issued dismissal notices to around 1000 employees of Damp’s central services company who had taken strike action to support their demands during the negotiations. Those employees will now have their pay protected if they are transferred to another company. Other employees in the group will get an (...)

Report shows churches undermine pay and conditions

Services union ver.di has welcomed a report from the Hans Böckler research organisation that exposes the way that church organisations treat their employees. Ver.di has been campaigning for some time against the refusal of some church organisations to negotiate proper collective agreements and this report reveals what this means in practice in terms of the poorer pay and conditions and employment rights of those working in church-run social enterprises and also those affected by outsourcing (...)

Union concern over decline in ambulance service

The FNV Abvakabo public services union has expressed major concerns of falling quality standards in the ambulance service. The union reports that some staff have not been fully trained while workers are also facing longer hours with more overtime and 12-hour days. On top of this Abvakabo says that vehicles and equipment are not properly maintained or renewed. Read more at > FNV Abvakabo (...)

National agreement delivers on savings

The Impact and SIPTU trade unions report that the national agreement on jobs, pay and services - the Croke Park agreement - has delivered savings of €1.5 billion over two years. Public sector employment has been reduced by 17300 in the period and more are to go in the next three years but Impact warns that the government needs to be more flexible with its recruitment restrictions. Read more at > Impact (EN) And at > SIPTU (...)

Hospital management take hard line

Strike action is possible at the Helios/Damp group of hospitals in seven cities across Germany. Ver.di is trying to negotiate a 7.5% pay increase for the 5600 workers employed by the company which is part of the Fresenius group. In contrast the management is trying to undermine existing collective agreements, wants to freeze pay for some workers and introduce a new pay structure for other workers that would many without a pay increase. Read more at > ver.di (...)

Union calls for better working conditions to tackle labour shortage

The vida public services trade union has called for better employment and working conditions in the care sector to tackle labour shortages. It highlights the problems of long hours, changing shift patterns and low pay that are making it difficult to recruit. The union has called for improved funding for the sector in contrast to employer organisations who have called for care professions to be included in the skilled worker regulations that control which categories of non-EU workers can (...)

Public sector unions gradually build up strike action

Several trade unions in the public sector are involved in strike action that began on Thursday 24 May after attempts at mediation in pay negotiations failed. The unions involved are coordinating their action and gradually increasing the number of workers coming out on strike. At the centre of the dispute are the unions’ efforts to ensure that pay increases in the public sector are in line with those in the private sector. Read more at > news website (EN) And at > Fagforbundet (NO) And at (...)

Living wage victory for hospital cleaners

Public service union Unison has won a pay victory for cleaners at St.George’s Hospital along with formal recognition by the contract cleaning company that runs the service. Workers will get the London Living Wage of £8.30 (€10.40) an hour from 1 August. This compares to the National Minimum Wage which is only £6.08 (€7.16) an hour for workers aged 21 and over. Read more at > Unison (...)

Dealing with violence at work

The FOA public services union and Danish Nurses’ Organisation organised a joint conference on 29 May to discuss how to deal with the problem of violence in psychiatric care. The two organisations are concerned about the level of violence including very serious cases and they argue that strategies are needed to prevent and manage incidents. The unions note that increased pressure of work, the risk of working alone and shortage of staff have contributed to the problem. Read more at > FOA (...)

Union underlines key conditions for longer working

The JHL public services has indicated how trade unions and employers can work together to improve working conditions as part of a strategy to encourage people to stay in work longer. Well-being and occupational safety have to be at the centre of this along with proper training for employees and managers. Additional training days were agreed as part of the latest public sector negotiations but JHL is concerned that employers ensure that these are provided. Read more at > JHL (...)

Further strike action against pension proposals

PCS, the main civil service union, and the Unite trade union with members in the central government and the health service took strike action on 10 May as part of their continuing campaign against government plans for public sector pensions. The two unions have joined forces with the NUT teachers’ union in protest at the proposed pension changes and in particular the prospect of being forced to work to 68 to get a full pension. Read more at > PCS (EN) And at > Unite (...)

Employers reject childcare agreement

The FNV Abvakabo public services union reports that the employers’ organisation has rejected the agreement covering childcare workers that we reported on in epsucob@NEWS issue no.6. The employers had offered the unions to continue negotiations but this was rejected. The proposed pay increases will not now be implemented and the unions argue that this will be a major blow to ensuring decent work in the sector and encouraging recruitment. Read more at > FNV Abvakabo (...)

Union warns against threat to paid breaks

The FOA public services union has criticised employers for suggesting that paid breaks should be cut. A survey of the union’s members in hospitals and elder care found a half reporting that their breaks were regularly disrupted with a fifth working through most of their breaks. The union says it would create chaos if paid breaks were cut and that staff would not be available to deal with problems during breaks if unpaid. Read more at > FOA (...)

Social care law could drive down pay

Ver.di has criticised the liberal FDP health minister for using the existence of the minimum wage in the social care sector to justify ending the requirement on social care institutions to pay locally recognised pay rates. This could mean, for example, the going rate in one are of €14.95 an hour being reduced to the minimum rate (in the west) of €8.75. The minister argues that it is a bureaucratic burden to ascertain the local going rate. Ver.di has argued that the sector should apply the (...)

Warning strikes help secure pay deal

Around 13000 employees of hospitals in Hamburg are set to benefit from a new collective agreement after 2000 took part in warning strikes earlier this year. A pay increase of 3.5% will be backdated to 1 March and two further increases of 1.4% will be paid on 1 January and 1 August 2013. In response to employee complaints about excessive weekend working there will also be a guarantee of 26 weekends free each year. Ver.di has criticised the employers for threatening some workers with the sack (...)

Health workers join doctors on strike

The conflict in the health sector has lead to strike action by doctors, joined also by the main health union. The unions are calling for a postponement or abandonment of plans to change the coefficients on which salaries are based that would lead to a 10% cut in pay. Read more at > news website (EN)

Union concern over massive health company merger

Services union ver.di has expressed concern about the planned takeover of the Rhön group of hospitals by the Fresenius group. The resulting company, with 80000 employees, would be a dominant company and pose a major challenge to church and other non-profit hospitals. Ver.di will be trying to ensure that the costs of the merger and the new company’s search for profits will not result in attacks on workers’ pay and conditions. Read more at > ver.di (...)

Union survey reveals staffing problems in childcare

A survey commissioned by the FOA public services union found that over a fifth of childcare workers said they often didn’t have enough time to comfort children who are upset. The survey also showed that 41% (up from 35% in 2010) of childcare workers thought that at least once a day there were unable to provide proper care to children who are upset or those with disruptive behaviour. The FOA was pleased that the government had pledged an extra DKr 500 million (€67 million) for staffing in the (...)

Municipal workers get 3% pay increase

The Kommunal union, representing around blue-collar workers in local and regional government, has negotiated a new one-year agreement that runs to 31 March 2013. The agreement covers around 350000 workers and will mean a pay increase of around 3% (SEK 650, €73). The lowest paid workers will also get SEK 650 and so this will mean a pay increase of 3.7%-4.0% for them. Other allowances increase by 2.6% and there is also an agreement to limit fixed-term employment. Read more at > Kommunal (...)

Members approve youth work agreement

Union members have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a new collective agreement covering 30000 youth service workers. The agreement actually runs from 1 May 2011 for two years and so the sector has been without an updated agreement for a year and there was no pay increase in 2011. There is 2% pay increase from 1 May 2012 and an end-of-year bonus worth 1.6% of annual salary. There will also be an increase in the training budget. Read more at > FNV Abvakabo (...)

Red Cross agreement keeps pay in line with public sector

Employees of the Germany Red Cross (DRK) will see their pay increase by 3.5% this year (from 1 July 2012) and then by 2% from 1 January 2013 in a new collective agreement that runs until 31 December 2013. This year’s increase is in line with that agreed in federal and local government while next year’s rise is just ahead by 0.6%. There are also changes to the pay structure to ensure that there are no differences in pay for new starters and this will mean additional increases on top of the (...)

Angry reaction from union over regional pay proposal

Public services union UNISON has reacted angrily to the health minister’s support for regional pay in the National Health Service (NHS). The union argues that this would be divisive, create a bureaucratic nightmare and undermine the national "Agenda for Change" pay and conditions agreement that was negotiated in 2005, addressing issues of equality and the inconsistencies arising often from local pay elements. Read more at > (...)

Health union protests over pay and threatens strike action

On 19 April the Trade Union of Employees in Health and Social Protection organized a demonstration over pay. The union says that the average salary in the health sector is €360 putting 28th of all sectors in the economy. Four categories of employees within the health sector don’t even earn the minimum salary of €180. The union is a calling for a sectoral agreement in both the health and social protection sectors and wants changes to the decree that sets the coefficients used in the calculation (...)

Biggest public sector strike for 20 years

On Wednesday 18 April workers across the public sector took part in the biggest strike for since the country’s independence. They were protesting against the government’s planned austerity measures that include a proposed 7.5%-10% cut in public sector pay from July. Read more at > STA news website (EN) And at > Ansamed news website (EN) And various stories at > labourstart

Public service federations boycott meeting

Seven trade union federations (CFTC, CGT, FA/FPT, FO, FSU, Solidaires and UNSA) have decided not to take part in the April meeting of the general council of the public sector and issued a joint statement criticising the declining quality of social dialogue. The unions argue that the government is not interested in proper negotiations and issues documents and proposals without taking account of the views of trade unions. There is also a question of the resources and time available to the (...)

Unions renew call for long-term care funding

The vida and GPA-DJP services unions have renewed their call for the need for a new initiative to ensure long-term funding for the social care sector. They have come up with a model that involves a new tax on wealth and the reintroduction of a reformed inheritance tax. The unions point out that with average pay in the sector 17% below national average pay there is an urgent need to increase pay rates along with the provision of quality training at federal level. Pay levels are not just low (...)

Union confederation submits pay claim to private employers

The blue collar LO confederation has put forward a pay claim to the Spekter employers’ organisation that covers workers in health, transport and other public services employed in the public sector. The claim includes real wage growth and a general increase of NOK 2438 (€323). The unions also want to see better conditions for temporary agency workers, improved pay for working unsocial hours and action to improve working conditions for older workers. Read more at > Fagforbundet (...)

Conflict over pay of personal assistants

The Kommunal municipal services union has given notice of a dispute with three private health companies - Frösunda, Humana Assistance AB and Olivia. The union is unhappy with a 2.6% pay increase this year which will give the workers, 70% of whom are women, an extra SEK 500 (€56). These workers earn on average only SEK 19500 (€2200) a month. Kommunal wants to see an increase of around SEK 960 (€108) a month which would be in line with the increase in local government. Read more at > Kommunal (...)

Health unions highlight attacks on collective bargaining in private sector

The FP-CGIL, FP-CISL and UIL-FPL health union federations have written to the minister of labour calling for an urgent meeting to discuss collective bargaining in the private health sector. The unions are concerned about the fact that the AIOP private health employers’ organisation has signed agreements with other, unrepresentative unions and more broadly about wage dumping in the sector. The federations argue that undercutting the main sectoral agreement will undermine pay and conditions (...)

Union welcomes initiative on home care

Read more at > FOA (DK) The FOA has welcomed the setting up of a commission to examine home care provision. The union argues strongly that the quality and dignity of care need to be at the centre of the commission’s considerations. Above all FOA will be urging the commission to take full account of the contribution of thousands of health and social care professionals to the quality of home care and shift the focus away from the obsession with cutting costs that has been the primary approach (...)

Strike call over health cuts

The ADEDY civil service confederation called for strike action on 29 March over the impact of austerity measures in the health sector. The union says that thousands of workers now lack the constitutionally guaranteed right to health services by the State. Continued cuts and restrictions on drugs and benefits, reductions in funding and the squeeze on budgets are leading to tragic consequences. Hospitals and health units are being merged and closed solely to drastically cut costs and meet (...)

Health workers vote on pensions changes

Members of Unison are being balloted over what the government says is its final offer on pension reform for the National Health Service. The proposals maintain a defined benefit scheme with a move towards career average in 2015; health workers earning less than £26558 (€31870) a year will not see an increase in their pension payments this year; all benefits built up in existing schemes will be protected and will maintain the final salary link at retirement; and members within 10 years of (...)

Agreement reached in childcare sector

The FNV Abvakabo and CNV Publieke Zaak public service federations have negotiated a new collective agreement covering 95,000 childcare workers. The two-year agreement is backdated to 1 January 2012 and includes three pay increases – 2% on 1 May 2012, 1.5% on 1 January 2013 and 0.5% on 1 June 2013. There are also provisions covering health management, career planning and counselling. Unions and employers will also work together on issues related to ethics and quality in childcare. Read more (...)

Union survey reveals pressures on health care workers

A regular survey by the FNV Abvakabo public service union found that 60% of workers in the health sector doubted whether they would work until retirement age because of the high mental and physical demands they face. Mental health professionals find their work particularly draining because of the heavy workloads and the nature of the job which are often made worse by concerns about job security. Pressures on night shift workers are even more acute and that’s why the union has called for more (...)

Union guide to dealing with outsourcing

The vida services union has collaborated with the Chamber of Labour to produce a guide on outsourcing. The booklet looks at the experience of vida and works council representatives in trying to resist or negotiate over outsourcing. The guide highlights the impact on workers but also emphasises that there is scope for unions to campaign against outsourcing and that often claims about lower costs are either inaccurate or unjustified and also fail to take account of the impact on quality. Read (...)

Better pay and conditions for childcare workers

Ver.di general secretary Frank Bsirske has made a call for better pay and conditions for childcare workers and recognition of the very important role they play in early years education which can have a major impact on children’s future development. With around 60% of jobs in the sector part-time and with limited potential to increase earnings, ver.di is also demanding that more full-time jobs and a better salary structure, demands that will feature in the upcoming negotiations over the (...)

Unions conclude three agreements in private and non-profit health and social care

The vida and GPA-DJP services unions have negotiated pay increases for a range of workers in private and non-profit health and social care. Pay will increase by 3.4% in both the main BAGS private health agreement covering 90,000 employees and the agreement covering 12,000 workers employed by the Caritas social welfare organisation. The increase for the 6,000 employees of the Vienna Red Cross is slightly lower at 3.3%. In all three cases changes to the treatment of parental and other leave (...)

Municipal union welcomes initiative on nursing home staffing

Local government union Kommunal is pleased by the decision of the parliamentary social affairs committee to call for guidelines and minimum levels of staffing in nursing homes. However, the union emphasises that the important thing is to ensure that these standards will be applied in practice in both municipal and private care homes. It also wants to ensure that employees in private homes have the right to blow the whistle if they find companies failing to meet the standards. Read more at > (...)

Campaign calls for decent work as essential for decent care

Services union ver.di has joined with other organisations in the social care sector to campaign for decent care. As well as calling for increased funding for the sector, the campaign will also focus on the need for decent pay for care workers and proper professional recognition of the work they do. Ver.di has criticised the federal health minister for failing to include in the new bill on care institutions any measures to make care professions more attractive. The union is also concerned (...)

Report exposes extent of cuts in community sector

The IMPACT public services union says that a new report reveals the effect of austerity measures on voluntary and community service organisations. With 11000 jobs already cut and a further 5500 expected to go by 2015, these organisations are struggling to maintain important services to a range of vulnerable people including the homeless, the unemployed and those suffering drug addition. A side-effect of the austerity measures is that many workers are on short-time working or have taken pay (...)

Opinion poll findings support government action on the gender pay gap

The Vision public services union quotes a recent opinion poll showing that most people support the idea of increased funding from the government as a necessary part of the solution to the gender pay gap. The structural difference in the labour market can be partly overcome through education and training to create more balanced workforces but this is a long-term aim. More immediate and also as part of the solution to the urgent recruitment needs in the social services, wages in the sector (...)

Unions target employers’ negotiating team in support of pay claim

Following a day of action on 1 February, involving over 6,000 protesters in four cities, the vida and GPA-DJP service trade unions are planning other activities in support of their pay claim for the 100,000 workers in the private health sector. The actions will target the head offices of the employers who make up the negotiating team. The unions understand that the employers are, to a certain extent, restrained by the amount of funding they get from the authorities but the unions believe (...)

Unions to negotiate on changes to allowances for new workers

The Impact public services union is calling for overtime rates to be maintained and low-paid workers to be protected in advance of negotiations over cuts to allowances. Workers newly recruited to the public sector or those promoted to new jobs are set to lose some allowances. The government has said that certain allowances – such as those for arduous work or unsocial hours – will be maintained but others will be cut. The unions have underlined the need to keep to the consultation requirements (...)

Union sets out its main demands in negotiations covering church employees

The Vision white-collar trade union has listed the main demands in upcoming negotiations with the Swedish Church covering 4,300 employees. The union is looking for a minimum increase of 3.6% and changes to pay to ensure that church workers are paid at the same level as workers doing similar jobs in other organisations. Vision also wants better pay and conditions for temporary workers and for younger employees. Read more at > Vision (...)

Unions negotiate deal on rest breaks for ambulance workers

The GMB, Unite and UNISON trade unions representing ambulance staff in Scotland have negotiated a new deal that protects workers’ meal breaks while compensating them for occasions when they do have to deal with call-outs during their breaks. Read more at > GMB (EN)

Union challenges government on impact of job cuts

The FOA public services union has highlighted the findings of a recent opinion poll in which 84% of people said that the level of employment was important in delivering public services. The union says this challenges the claims of both the present and previous governments that the level and quality of public services can be maintained despite the fact there are 25,000 fewer public sector workers in post than a year ago. FOA says that this is also putting pressure on the smaller number of (...)

Difficult negotiations in health and social services

The vida and GPA-DJP trade unions face challenging negotiations with private and non-profit employers in health and social services. In the main private health agreement, BAGS, covering around 90,000 workers, the employers have offered between 2.95% and 3.05% when inflation is at 3.2%. There was also a disappointing offer, ranging from 1.89% to 2.5% from the private hospital employers where the agreement covers some 15,000 workers. Finally, in the non-profit sector the Caritas organisation, (...)

Doctors’ union negotiates pay increase for 2012

The Marburger Bund doctors’ trade union has agreed a pay increase of 2.9% for doctors in municipal hospitals. The agreement runs from 1 January to 31 December 2012 and in addition there is a lump sum payment of €440 to cover the period from September to December 2011, effectively after the previous agreement expired until the new one comes into effect. There are also changes to the pay scale with additional steps in three of the pay bands. Read more at > Marburger Bund (...)

Union protects in-house cleaning at two hospitals

The SIPTU general union has prevented the outsourcing of cleaning at two hospitals following the threat of industrial action. The union had challenged the managements’ plans to privatise the cleaning without consultation. The Croke Park national agreement on public sector pay and restructuring requires consultation with trade unions over any planned outsourcing. The unions have proposed an alternative that involves extra hours of work for home helps. Read more at > SIPTU (...)

Pay freeze in 2012 means 13% loss of purchasing power

The FSC-CCOO and FSP-UGT public service federations have criticised the centre-right government for imposing a further pay freeze in the public sector in 2012. The previous socialist government had imposed an average 5% cut in 2010 followed by a pay freeze in 2011. Unions estimate that the combined effect of these measures is that public sector workers will have seen the purchasing power of their salaries fall by 13% in real terms over three years. They have also criticised the freeze on (...)

Unions agree to further talks on local government pensions

The main municipal unions, UNISON and GMB, have agreed to undertake negotiations on changes to the local government pension scheme following commitments from the local government employers and the government. This follows the public sector-wide strike action on pensions on 30 November last year and confusion over the government position just before Christmas. The unions now think there is a reasonable framework for negotiations and that the feared significant short-term increase in employee (...)

Unions challenge minister on low pay in public sector

Seven public service federations (CFDT, CFTC, CGC, CGT, FSU, Solidaires and UNSA) have written a joint letter to the Public Service Minister on the question of minimum pay and the purchasing power of public sector workers. The unions are unhappy about the unilateral decision by the ministry to increase the minimum salary in the public sector to bring it in line with the national minimum wage that was recently increased by 2.1%, while maintaining an overall freeze on public sector pay. The (...)

Social care workers go for all-out strike

Members of the ver.di services union at the Pflegen und Wohnen social care company in Hamburg have voted 98% in favour of all-out strike action. Over 200 employees had already been involved in five warning strikes in an attempt to get the company to negotiate a new collective agreement covering all employees.. Those employed by the company before 30 June 2011 are still covered by an old collective agreement but there has been no pay increase since 2009. Workers taken on since 30 June 2011 (...)

Unions formally notify end of agreement

The three main unions that negotiate the Nursing and Care Home agreement covering 400,000 workers – FNV Abvakabo, CNV Publieke Zaak and NU’91 – have given notice to the employers, ActiZ and BTN, that they want to terminate the agreement and negotiate improvements. The current collective agreement runs until 1 March 2012 and the trade unions were concerned that if they didn’t give formal notice, then the employers would simply allow the agreement to run on for a further year without any changes. (...)

Survey reveals risks faced by community nurses

The RCN nursing union has published a survey showing that over 60% of nurses working in the community have been subjected to physical or verbal abuse over the last two years. The survey also indicated that many nurses were not confident that their employer would take action in the event of such abuse. The RCN is advocating greater investment in risk assessment, prevention strategies and specialist lone-worker alarm systems. Read more at > RCN (...)

Health unions negotiate with church hospital

Ver.di and the Marburger Bund doctors’ union acknowledge the initial progress that has been made in negotiations with the Oldenburg hospital run by the Protestant Church. The unions are aiming for a general pay increase from 1 January 2012 along with some changes to the framework collective agreement in line with developments in the public sector. This contrasts with industrial relations with other church-owned institutions where employers are refusing to negotiate with the trade unions. (...)

Mixed reactions to pension proposals

Following the public sector wide strike on 30 November, the government has come up with revised proposals for the various public sector schemes which unions are now trying to evaluate. In the health sector the government is now saying that those within 10 years of retirement will not be affected and there will be no contributions increase next year for those earning less than £26000 (€31300) a year. This goes some way to meeting union demands. In local government the unions – Unison, Unite and (...)

Industrial action secures first step towards agreement at CFM services company

Ver.di reports that campaigning and industrial action at the CFM facilities management company have produced some initial improvements for workers and the promise of further negotiations in the new year. The union began negotiating with CFM in May 2011 but have been in dispute with the company since September (see epsucob@NEWS 16 and 17). The company provides cleaning, catering and other services to the Charité hospitals in Berlin. In January 2012 all low-paid employees will get a minimum (...)

Strike action by two groups of workers brings improvements

Laboratory workers and cleaners have both managed to secure improved pay following separate strike action against their employers, the University Hospitals of Geneva. Both groups of workers felt that they had lost out when pay structures had been introduced or revised in the past and both will now have better opportunities to move up the pay structure. A joint committee will also look at staffing and career development issues for both groups of workers. Employers have also withdrawn their (...)

Protests and industrial action help win agreement at care home company

Ver.di has negotiated a new agreement at the Alpenland care home company in Berlin which will mean minimum increases of 2.5% from 1 January and lump sum payments of €235. Care assistants and nurses will get higher increases of 5.9% and 8.3%. The negotiations over a new agreement have been going on for over two years and lead to a long dispute this year involving protest and strike action (see epsucob@NEWS 15). Read more at > ver.di (...)

Figures expose fall in public sector pay in relation to minimum wage

Inflation in the year to October 2011 at 2% has lead to an automatic increase in the minimum wage to €1393.82 a month. This has major implications for the public sector where pay has failed to keep pace with inflation for many years. Even the government acknowledges that nearly a fifth of all public sector workers (890,000 out of five million) will see their pay increase as a result of the rise in the minimum wage. The CGT points out that this exposes the extent to which public sector pay (...)

First round of bargaining produces inadequate offer from employers

The vida and GPA-DJP trade unions have been involved in the first round of bargaining of the private health and social services agreement that covers 90,000 workers. A starting point is the rate of inflation in the year to October (3.04%) and although the unions found the negotiations constructive they were disappointed that the employers’ initial offer was well below this level. The next round of bargaining will be on 12 January. Read more at > vida (...)

Doctors secure agreement on pay increases

The LOZ doctors’ union has negotiated a new agreement with the government that will see pay increase in three stages, rising in relation to national average salaries. The doctors’ campaign had been supported by the EPSU affiliate and health workers’ union SOZZASS, which has been calling for higher pay for all workers in the sector. Read more at > Slovak Spectator (EN)

Campaign for collective bargaining and right to strike in church organisations

Services union ver.di is keeping up the pressure on church organisations in order to secure collective agreements and to affirm the right to strike. At the beginning of the month over 200 employees from two church institutions demonstrated in Hannover in support of their demands for a collective agreement. There was also some good news with a church-run clinic in Oldenburg saying it wanted to start negotiations with ver.di. Read more at > ver.di (...)

Private health and social care negotiations start

The unions representing 90,000 workers in the private health and social care sector (vida and GPA-DJP) have called for a real increase in pay for employees in the sector. They point out that there is an urgent need for pay in the sector to catch up with pay in the rest of the economy. Currently average pay in health social care is 17% below the national average. Unions also want to see improvements in compensation for parental leave and account taken of experience in other occupations – two (...)

Union challenges health service on use of agency labour

The SIPTU general union has criticized the Health Services Executive for widespread use of agency staff at a cost of €129.9 million in the first eight months of 2011. The union says that the Executive has resorted to agency workers because of the freeze on the recruitment of permanent staff. Read more at > SIPTU (EN)

Bargaining focuses on purchasing power and jobs

Unions in the non-profit sector, covering a range of health and social services, are starting negotiations over a new federal agreement with their main focus on protecting purchasing power and increasing employment. There has been a review of occupations in the sector and on the basis of these changes in job descriptions, unions are looking for a new pay structure and arrangements that will provide progression over a career and will take account of length of service. In order to tackle the (...)

Care workers resume strike action

Care workers at Geneva’s university hospitals have resumed their strike action over their demands for a reevaluation of their jobs. They began their protests in the middle of October and at the beginning of November rejected an offer that would only have provided a salary upgrade for 430 of the 1117 workers. Read more at > SSP-VPÖD (DE)

Workers in sheltered employment demonstrate over agreement and cuts to services

Demonstrations in Tilburg and Arnhem on 8 and 10 November have been organized by workers in sheltered employment in support of their claims for a new collective agreement but also in protest at the massive cutbacks across the sector. The VNG local authority employers want to freeze pay while the government is planning to cut 70% of the 100,000 jobs currently available in sheltered employment. Read more at > FNV Abvakabo (...)

Church employees demonstrate over right to strike

Over 1,500 church workers joined a demonstration in Magdeburg on 4 November organized by services union ver.di over the right to strike. Church organisations are major employers in the health and social services sector but are opposed to granting normal employment rights to their workers. The synod (parliament) of the evangelical church met that day and reaffirmed its rule banning employees from taking strike action. Ver.di regretted the decision and said that it would only servce to (...)

Health minister tours hospitals to tackle doctors’ protest

Over 2,400 out of 6,500 hospital doctors are taking part in a mass resignation protest that could see them leave their posts as of 1 December. The protest is against government plans to turn hospitals into joint stock companies and is calling for higher pay for health workers and increase health funding. The health minister is touring hospitals to try to persuade doctors to withdraw their resignations. Read more at > Slovak Spectator news website (...)

Strikers take direct action

After five weeks on strike employees of the Charité Facilities Management (CFM) company have taken their campaign to the Berlin high street with a leafletting and sit-down protest in the Dussman book and music store. The store is owned by the Dussman group, a multinational service company that part owns CFM. The strikers’ basic demand is simply to have a collective agreement and higher pay for non-medical staff. CFM provides a range of services to the Charité hospitals in Berlin. Further (...)

Victory for hospital workers after two-day strike

Workers responsible for patient transport at Geneva University Hospital have won virtually all their demands after a two-day strike. They will be put on a higher pay grade and get four additional days off. There will also be an increase in staffing which will ensure a better service to patients. Read more at > VPOD (DE)

Massive survey of healthworkers reveals increased stress and pressure of work

The CFDT Santé health federation has carried out a major survey with responses from 55,000 workers in 492 public health establishments. The survey reveals a range of data on working conditions and has been broken down into different groups of workers and professions. The survey reveals the extent to which workers are under increased pressure, with growing workloads and many stuck on temporary contracts. Read more at > CFDT Santé (...)

One day strike called as negotiations stall

After the last day of negotiations on 20 October and with no new offer from the employers, the FNV Abvakabo public service union has called a one-day strike among welfare workers. The union had been looking for an increase to protect purchasing power, initiatives to make the sector more attractive to new workers and an agreement on employment levels. The employers want a below-inflation increase and no agreement on employment. In fact, the union believes that the employers want to see more (...)

Employee reps debate precarious employment in church organisations

Services union ver.di has been surprised by the level of interest in a meeting on precarious employment in the church sector in Bavaria taking place on 24 October. Over 100 employee represenatives have signed up for the meeting indicating the extent of the problem among church bodies that provide many health and social services. The union has evidence of church employees facing temporary contracts of up to two years, part-time work despite the demand for full-time hours, widespread (...)

Doctors maintain threat of mass resignation

The mass resignation of hospital doctors, co-ordinated by the LOZ trade union, is still possible following inconclusive talks with the government. The union has a number of key demands including stopping the conversion of public hospitals into joint stock companies, the application of labour code rules on working time and working conditions and pay increases for health staff. Read more at > Slovak Spectator news website (...)

Strike at facilities management company

Over 300 workers employed by the Charité-CFM services company in Berlin have taken strike action and organized a demonstration on the third day of the strike on 14 September. The workers provide a range of services (cleaning, catering, security) to the Charité university hospital. The dispute is over pay and a collective agreement to cover all the workers. The company claims that is under pressure to keep costs down or risks losing the contract with the hospital. Watch the video report at > (...)

Unions negotiate deal for mental health workers

A new 22-month agreement covering 80,000 workers in the mental health sector will be put to members for approval. The three main unions have secured a 3.25% overall pay increase that includes a 0.75% rise in August 2011, with a 0.25% one-off payment (minimum €25) in November and an additional 0.5% on the end-of-year bonus in December. In 2012 there will be a 1% increase in salaries in September, another 0.25% (minimum €25) payment and the end-of-year bonus will rise by another 0.5% taking it (...)

Unions campaign over social care funding and women’s pay

The vida and GPA-DJP services trade unions are working together in a campaign to ensure better funding for social care and improved pay and conditions for workers in the sector, the vast majority of whom are women. They are concerned to act now to defend and improve pay and conditions in order to prevent the increasing demand for social care leading to pressure both to keep wages low and to increase workloads and working time for staff. Read more at > vida (...)

Union argues that agreements needed on role of volunteers

As 2011 is the European year of volunteering, it is appropriate that the FOA public services has surveyed its members to find their views on volunteer work. While nine out of 10 are fully supportive of the work done by volunteers in the social services, just over a quarter are concerned that some volunteer work involves tasks that should really be carried out by professionals. FOA suggests that the union at the workplace should be involved in discussions with volunteer organisations to (...)

Campaign for right to strike for church employees

The ver.di services union has set up a new website as part of a campaign against church employers, who provide a range of social services and who want to deny their workers the right to strike. Ver.di has been successful in cases taken to regional labour courts over church employees’ right to strike. However, the Synod (parliament) of the Evangelical Church is planning to legislate against strike action in church law. Ver.di is planning a protest demonstration on 4 November in Magdeburg. (...)

Care home workers maintain their strike

Ver.di general secretary Frank Bsirske gave his support to care workers in Berlin as they showed their determination to continue their strike for a collective agreement despite intimidation from their employer. As reported in the last issue of the newsletter the ver.di collective bargaining committee has demanded a framework agreement covering working time, shifts, shift pay and annual leave. Workers in other Alpenland homes outside Berlin are on better pay and conditions. Read more at > (...)

Union rejects calls for further cuts

The IMPACT public service union has stressed that the current agreement on public sector cost savings (Croke Park) is delivering and is on course to meet the 2011 targets in terms of savings and job reductions, with payroll savings alone of €290 million, 30% ahead of target. The union was reacting to statements by former European Central Bank director Jürgen Stark who also claimed that public sector pay in Ireland was too high. Read more at > IMPACT (...)

Union criticizes introduction of bonus payments in public service

The CGT-UGFF civil service federation is heavily critical of a new system of incentive payments introduced into the public sector. The union is not convinced that such payments, mirroring the profit-linked “prime d’intéressement” in the private sector, can really reflect performance in the public sector which depends on very different criteria. The CGT-UGFF also believes that no extra money will be available for the payments which will effectively be funded by job cuts. Read more at > CGT UGFF (...)

Union welcomes call for shorter hours for hospital doctors

The vida private health sector union has welcomed the initiative of social minister Rudolf Hundstorfer to introduce restrictions on working time for hospital doctors. At the moment doctors can work up to 72 hours a week and up to 32 hours in a single shift. The minister is calling for a maximum 25-hour shift. According to the chamber of doctors, one in five in the profession are suffering symptoms of burn-out while 50% are at risk. This increases the likelihood of errors and threatens the (...)

Latest figures on loss of purchasing power

The UGFF-CGT state sector federation has updated its figures on the loss of purchasing power faced by public sector workers since 2000. While inflation has risen by more than 21% over this period, the index point used to calculate public sector salaries has increased by only 9%. To show the impact of this, the UGFF-CGT gives examples of different salaries and what they would have been, had they kept up with inflation. The loss of purchasing power is anything from €181 to €538 per month, (...)

Health unions challenge recruitment policy

Both the IMPACT and SIPTU trade unions have questioned the Health Service Executive’s (HSE) current recruitment policy. IMPACT argues that the HSE is not filling a range of specialist posts despite these being exempted from the recruitment freeze. It is also concerned about an increased use of agency staff. Meanwhile, SIPTU has expressed concern about the HSE delaying confirmation of new appointments in order to balance hospital budgets. The HSE claims that too many patients have been (...)

Report shows importance of training and staffing levels in childcare

The FOA public services union has highlighted a recent report which shows a clear link between staff ratios in nurseries and children’s later performance at school. The union is particularly concerned about the impact of reductions in staff in recent years with more than 4,000 full-time jobs cut, much more than would be needed to keep in line with the falling birth rate. The outlook for childcare is also not good with four out of 10 municipalities planning cuts in 2012. The union is arguing (...)

Nurse wins equal pay case

Public services union UNISON has supported one of its members in a successful equal pay case. Under the national health service’s Agenda for Change job evaluation system introduced in 2005, the job of a nurse is rated as equivalent to a maintenance supervisor. While acknowledging this, the local health service employer tried to argue that the local labour market and different bargaining arrangements justified higher pay for maintenance workers. The tribunal rejected the employer’s case. Read (...)

Strike for collective agreement at care home company

Members of the ver.di trade union working at three care homes in Berlin are taking all-out strike action in order to get a collective agreement. The strike began at the three Alpenland care homes on 18 August. The ver.di collective bargaining committee has demanded a framework agreement covering working time, shifts, shift pay and annual leave and has given the employers until 28 August to respond. Workers at other Alpenland homes are covered by collective bargaining and this means that are (...)

Long-running dispute over health workers’ pay finally resolved

Health workers in the St.Gallen region (Canton) are finally benefitting from higher pay after a long-running dispute was resolved. The VPÖD public service union supported a number of workers in an initial claim in 2003 that the workers should be on higher pay rates and grades. The administrative court for the Canton agreed that the health workers were paid less than comparable jobs (ambulance workers, police) but that this was not primarily an issue of sex discrimination. This workers’ claim (...)

Unions organize extra-parliamentary hearing on care sector

The GPA-DJP and vida trade unions have been lobbying for better funding for the care sector and improvements to care workers’ employment and working conditions. They have also been calling for a parliamentary enquiry into the sector to establish what level of funding and what kind of changes are needed to ensure the sector can deal with future demand. There has been no response to the call for an enquiry and so the unions have organized their own public hearing in Vienna on 19 September. (...)

Health unions set out eight-point plan for hospitals

The FOA public service union along with four other organisations representing 200,000 health workers has drawn up an eight-point plan for long-term improvements in the healthcare system. The unions argue that workers need to be properly trained and should focus on their appropriate tasks and competences. This means doctors and nurses concentrating on treatment while white-collar workers tackle the relevant administrative tasks. The plan also calls for a more transparent and effective (...)

Union launches petition against ambulance service privatization

Public service union Abvakabo has launched a campaign in protest at the planned privatization of the Amsterdam ambulance service. The union is not only angry about the plans and the threat they pose to workers’ pay and conditions, but is also furious that they were announced without any consultation. Furthermore the union is concerned that the privatization will pose a threat to coordination with other emergency services. Read more at > FNV Abvakabo (...)

Unions continue to negotiate public sector savings

The IMPACT public services union has welcomed the latest report on the savings and restructuring being carried out under the Croke Park national agreement. Staff redeployment, workplace reforms and increased productivity have all contributed to the reduction of costs and the maintenance of services. The unions’ commitment to the agreement means there will be no compulsory redundancies or further cuts in pay. Read more at > IMPACT (...)

Mobilisations deliver for social and educational workers

A concerted campaign by nine trade union organisations and four professional associations has lead to a commitment from the government to improved recognition of qualifications for social and educational workers. Demonstrations on 16 March, 7 April and most recently on 16 June have resulted in the government promising draft regulations recognising specific diplomas by the autumn. The unions are also demanding a meeting with ministers to make progress on their other key demand a movement up (...)

Stress for workers and less care for service users

The FOA public service unions has used official figures to show that home care workers are spending less time with their clients. The overall figures show a fall from 53.2% of workers’ time spent caring in 2007 compared to 51.7% but this relatively small decline hides some significant changes at local level with some areas showing declines of 20% or more in contact time. This is not just a loss for the client but means that workers are under pressure to deal with all their paperwork while (...)

New government makes commitment on job security and productivity

The JHL public sector union has welcomed some of the elements of the new government’s programme. It is pleased about the commitment to offer a new job security agreement in the municipal sector when the current agreement expires in 2013. The union also welcomes the decision to end the productivity scheme in the state sector. This problems with this scheme were discussed in detail at EPSU’s recent meeting on productivity in the public services in Vilnius. Read more at > JHL (EN) And on the (...)

Private health sector deal welcomed by unions

The three main union organisations in the private health sector have finally signed an agreement covering the period 2008-2009 covering the 3,800 workers employed in the 28 institutions run by the Don Gnocchi foundation. The agreement brings salary increases in line with those in the public sector and the unions hope that this will lead to similar deals with the other private health organisations, Aris and Aiop. Read more at > FP-CGIL (IT) And at > CISL-FP (...)

National demonstration keeps pressure on employers in non-profit sector

Over 16,000 workers joined the national demonstration on 9 June calling for new, long-term agreements in the non-profit sector, covering a range of health and social services. The unions are looking to negotiate deals at national, regional and community level and emphasise the need to improve employment conditions in order to make it a more attractive sector in which to work and so increase recruitment. Read more at > SETCA (FR) And in Dutch at > (...)

Healthworkers get pay rise and job guarantees after difficult negotiations

Ver.di has secured a €30 per month increase (average 1.1%) for workers at the KfH-GML health company. This was after challenging negotiations with the KfH management pushing for a pay freeze, lay-offs and restructuring. The deal includes special arrangements to support those who are asked to change jobs as part of the restructuring process. The company employs over 7,000 workers across Germany. Read more at > ver.di (...)

Three-year deal for workers caring for the disabled

Unions have negotiated a three-year agreement for the 160,000 workers in the disabled care sector. There will be pay increases of 1.25% (1 October 2011), 1.5% (1 July 2012) and 2.0% (1 July 2013). The end of year bonus will increase by 1% from 5.75% to 6.75% of salary. An important change is that workers who don’t have a year’s service by the end of the year will still be entitled to a proportion of the bonus. This will affect around 20,000 workers. Read more at > FNV Abvakabo (NL) And at > (...)

Unions to mobilise on 9 June over new health and care sector agreement

Public service trade unions are building for a national demonstration on 9 June to support their demands for a new agreement on pay and conditions in health and social services in the public and non-profit sectors. Read more at > CSC (FR) And in Dutch at > LBC-NVK And at > SETCA (FR) And in Dutch at > BBTK And at > CGSLB (FR) And in Dutch at > ACLVB

Union signs whistleblowing agreement with private health company

The SKTF white-collar union has signed an agreement with the Capio healthcare company giving employees the right to speak out about abuses within the company without fear of being exposed or intimidated. Public sector employees already have this right but with the spread of outsourcing SKTF sees it as very important to secure the same rights for private sector employees and hopes that other companies will follow suit. Read more at > SKTF (...)

Government, employers and unions tackle involuntary part-time work in health sector

The government is providing funding for a project aiming to reduce the amount of involuntary part-time worker in the health sector. Unions and employers have signed an agreement to investigate the extent of part-time employment and ways of reorganizing work to allow more part timers to switch to full-time contracts. Read more at > EIRO (EN)

Doctors may follow Czech mass resignation tactic

The LOZ doctors’ union is planning to co-ordinate a campaign of mass resignations by doctors in order to secure higher pay. EPSU affiliate SOZZaSS says it will consult with its membership over whether or not to support the campaign. However, the union says that the level of funding for the health service is more of a priority issue. Read more at > news website (EN)

Call for proper training for care workers

The vida services union used 12 May – national carers’ day – to stress the need to establish a proper training framework for 24-hour care. The union, which has drafted its own proposals on training, points out that people expect trained mechanics to work on their cars, but currently there is no requirement for those caring for the elderly and vulnerable to have any kind of training. The union also argues that recruitment to the sector needs to be improved and an important factor is having (...)

Over two million workers now covered by minimum wages

The trade union movement continues to campaign for a national, legal minimum wage but in the mean time the introduction of sectoral minimum rates has now spread to nine sectors. The rates range from €6.53 an hour in the security industry in the east to €12.95 in the construction industry in the west. Other rates include €8.24 in waste management and €7.50 (east) and €8.50 (west) in care services. Read more at > Hans Boeckler (...)

Survey reveals pressures facing health workers

A major survey by the health and social services section of the CFDT confederation uncovers a continuing deterioration in working conditions for staff in the public health sector. Nearly 40,000 employees responded to the survey and over 90% said they found their work stressful with 57% saying that the levels of stress create problems for them. A majority of respondents say that work has intensified, workloads have increased and the management of human resources has deteriorated. Read more (...)

Three-year deal in hospital sector

Health sector unions have negotiated a new collective agreement covering 200,000 hospital employees. The agreement runs for three years from 1 March 2011 and includes the following pay increases: 1% from 1.7.11, 0.55% from 1.10.11, 1.5% from 1.7.12 and 2% from 1.7.13. The year-end bonus will also increase over the period from 6.73% to 8.33% turning it effectively into a 13th month payment. Youth pay rates will be abolished. Read more at > FNV Abvakabo (NL) And at > CNV Publieke Zaak (NL) (...)

Two-year deal at hospital group

Ver.di has negotiated a new collective agreement at the Helios hospital company which employs around 17,000 workers across Germany. The agreement runs from 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2012 and includes a 2% increase for 2011 (backdated to 1 April) and a 3% increase from 1 May 2012. Increase for doctors are different as they get on average a 3% increase from 1 January 2011 and a 2.4% increase from 1 March 2012. They are also a 15% increase on the supplement for night work which will now (...)

Union petition calls for decent work in health sector

To coincide with the opening of the German labour market to citizens of the eight central and Eastern European countries that joined the European Union in 2004, services union ver.di has launched a petition calling for decent work in the health sector across Europe. Ver.di argues that it is more important than ever that health workers have decent pay and conditions and that they get equal pay for work of equal value at the workplace. The union has called on Germany health employers to adopt (...)

Union argues that job cuts will affect services

The FOA public services union says that the number of employees in the municipal sector fell by 21,300 between March 2010 and January 2011. The union argues that the government overestimated the impact of the crisis on the economy and didn’t need to implement a standstill budget. FOA maintains that the level and quality of services cannot be guaranteed with such a high level of staff cuts. In a separate statement it also highlighted problems in the childcare sector with childminders being (...)

Unions maintain campaign for better pay for education and social workers

Ten trade union organisations are working together to try to secure better pay and recognition of qualifications for education and social workers in the public and private sectors. Following national mobilisations on 16 March and 7 April the unions are now planning a further day of action on 16 June. They are particularly concerned to get a comprehensive response from the government rather than a range of different responses from public and private sector employers. Read more at > CGT (...)

Workers and union denied information on outsourcing

The Health Services Executive is going through a process of outsourcing home helps but has refused to provide workers and their union with any information about the process. Home helps took to the streets of Dublin to express their concerns and the SIPTU general union is worried about the impact on pay and conditions as well as quality of services in what is currently an unregulated area. Read more at > SIPTU (...)

Private sector deal targets low paid and includes equality proposals

Negotiations between unions and the NHO private sector employers’ organisation have delivered a NOK 6000 (€768) increase for lower paid workers – those workers who are paid less than 90% of the average wage in the manufacturing sector. The average wage in manufacturing is currently NOK 378573 (€48430) and so the 90% threshold is NOK 340715 (€43600). The deal also includes improvements to severance pay for older workers and an agreement that unions, employers and the government will work together (...)

Report emphasizes need for better pay and conditions in eldercare

Municipal workers’ union Kommunal has published a new report that reveals a dramatic decline in the number of young people interested to work in elder care. It points out that the average salary for a nurse in the sector is several thousand less than that of an industrial worker, while working hours also make the job less attractive with frequent weekend service and split shifts. The sector has a high proportion of hourly-paid and temporary employment workers with 60% working part time. (...)

Conference debates need for action on violence against health staff

The Federation of Trade Unions in Health Services (FTU-HS) organized a roundtable last month with the Bulgarian Association of Health Professionals (BAHP) to discuss how to tackle violence against healthworkers. The trade unionists and professionals were joined by government representatives. A study by the FTU-HS found 7.5% of health workers had been victims of violence with nurses making up the biggest group. The union said it would establish a committee with the BAHP involving also the (...)

Union criticises government position on church employers

Ver.di has attacked the government for failing to take account of two recent regional court judgements which backed the union’s right to organise strike action against church employers. In a recent statement the Labour ministry said that church organisations had a special status in relation to the constitution and the question of labour rights. Ver.di maintains that church employers are just like any other employers. They operate in the same labour markets, attempt to worsen pay and (...)

Social workers mobilise again

The public service unions’ campaign to secure improved pay and recognition of qualifications for social workers continues on 7 April. Demonstrations are planned around the country and the unions are calling for a meeting with the three ministers with responsibility for the sector. In the meantime, the government is pressing ahead with new regulations without any move to negotiate or consult with the unions. Read more at > CGT Services Publics (FR) And at > CFDT-Interco (...)

Survey exposes excessive working hours and burn-out risk for health workers

The three unions organizing health workers in the public and private sectors, GdG-KMSfB, GPA-djp und vida, have collaborated with the Chamber of Labour on a major survey of health workers in Vienna and Lower Austria. The survey shows that with staff shortages many workers are facing long hours and deteriorating working conditions which raises important health and safety questions both for the workers themselves as well as patients. The unions also highlight the long-term problems of (...)

Warning strikes organized in advance of third bargaining round

On 10 and 11 March, the ver.di services union organized warning strikes in 12 clinics belonging to the Helios group. The aim of the strikes was to show the strength of feeling of workers in the lead up to the third round of bargaining with the company, which has 17,000 employees across Germany and is part of the Fresenius health company. Ver.di had become frustrated by the employer’s failure to come up with a pay offer and is demanding a range of measures in a package worth around 7%. This (...)

Unions plan further action on social services workers’ pay

Nine trade union organisations are working together to improve the pay and conditions of the predominantly female workforce in a range of social service occupations. The unions believe that demonstrations on 16 March were crucial in getting the CSFPT committee responsible for local and regional government to withdraw plans to maintain a range of social service occupations in the B pay grade. Unions are calling for proper recognition of workers’ qualifications in the sector and for jobs to be (...)

Second court decision backs right to strike against church employers

The regional labour court in Hamburg has rejected the claim by the church-run Agaplesion hospital that strike action by its employees was illegal. This is the second time that a regional labour court has ruled in favour of ver.di members who have taken strike action over pay and conditions. Ver.di is now calling on church employers to recognize that they are in a normal employment relationship with their workers and so should negotiate collective agreements with the union. Read more at > (...)

Two-year agreement in municipal and regional government

After some difficult bargaining the negotiations covering workers in municipal and regional government have ended and union members now have the chance to vote on the deals. In a similar way to the state sector agreement, there will be no pay increase in 2011 (this relates to links with private sector pay developments) but the pay rise in 2012 will be 2.65%. One disappointment for the unions was not getting any job security provisions at a time when hospitals are cutting jobs. However, (...)

Survey highlights positive role of collective bargaining in health sector

A major review of industrial relations in the health sector across Europe has highlighted the positive contribution that collective bargaining has made in improving pay and conditions and making the sector more attractive to workers. However, the study warns that further privatization and decentralization of decision making could make it more difficult for the sector to sustain and continue the progress that has been made. Read more at > EIRO (...)

Day of action over childcare

The CFDT Interco federation has called for a day of action on 11 March, including strikes, over continuing problems in the childcare sector. The union says that there are problems with oversubscribed crèches, inadequately trained staff and a mix of different of different providers. It is calling for a limit on the number of children in relation to staff and proper training and professional status for childcare workers. Read more at > CFDT Interco (...)

Doctors’ win large pay increases after threat to resign

Doctors are to get pay rises worth between 5000 (€206) and 8000 crowns (€330) as part of a deal that will their salaries increase to around 1.5 times the national average salary by 2013. A major national campaign had seen around 3800 hospital doctors threaten to resign on 1 March if the government didn’t make any concessions on pay. Read more at > Ceske Noviny news website (EN)

Extra funds for training are welcomed but won’t solve problems in elder care

Municipal union Kommunal has welcomed a commitment from the government to spend an extra billion kronor on training and personal development for nurses and other staff in elder care. However, the union points out that this fails to address the more fundamental problem of staff shortages in the sector and these can be traced to low pay and difficult working conditions. Kommunal says that pay in the sector is well below that in the industrial sector for jobs requiring similar levels of (...)

Employment agency scandal exposes impact of competition

Following the case of the sacked refuse workers (See > epsucob@NEWS January), another scandal has been exposed involving the Adecco employment agency. In this case it concerns the way the company treats workers in nursing homes with the labour inspectorate in Oslo discovering serious infringements of the working time regulations, with some employess working up to 84 hours a week. The main municipal union Fagforbundet argues that Adecco’s attacks on pay and working conditions is a result of (...)

Unions secure agreement for extra funds for jobs and pay in health sector

Trade unions representing workers in the federal health sector have negotiated a “mini-agreement” that provides €50 million of extra funding. This will go towards creating 400 jobs and improving pay and conditions. The jobs will ensure that vacant posts are filled and will be targeted at parts of the sector that didn’t benefit from the employment measures in the 2005-2010 agreement. The extra funds will also ensure more workers get supplementary payments for working after 19.00 as well as going (...)

Deadlock in University Medical Center negotiations

Unions are going back to their members to consult over the next step in negotiations in University Medical Centers. Bargaining should have been completed by 17 February but unions couldn’t accept the employers’ insistence on a pay freeze as well as changes to overtime, on-call and standby arrangements. A series of workforce meetings are to be held between 7 and 21 March. Read more at > FNV Abvakabo (NL) And at > CNV Publieke Zaak (NL) And at > NU 91 (...)

Health union demands talks with government

The TUHSSC health union has called on the government to re-open social dialogue in order to tackle the crisis facing the health service. Hospitals are facing in funding and plans to close thousands of beds while doctors have threatened mass resignations if nothing is done to improve the low levels of pay in the sector. The government is drawing up proposals that include a pay increase for doctors. Read more at > EPSU (EN) Read more at > Ceske Noviny news website (...)

Members’ views crucial to bargaining demands

Public services union Abvakabo surveyed its members in the hospital sector to help them formulate their main demands in the negotiations due to start this week. The union will be taking account in particular of the needs of young workers who are often on short-term contracts with few hours and inadequate training. The union will make training one of its main demands as part of a strategy to make hospital work a more attractive career. Abvakabo will also be looking for a basic pay increase (...)

Latest figures show 10-year pay trend below inflation

The FGFFO civil service trade union has produced a briefing on public sector pay that shows that the basic annual increase has exceeded inflation in only one of the last 11 years. The loss in purchasing power over the period is around 8%. Inflation in 2011 is expected to reach 2% while pay has been frozen until 2013. The UGFF-CGT federation has carried out a similar exercise including calculations for a sample of salary grades indicating what the loss of purchasing power means for gross (...)

Unions attack regional government over health sector pay

The GPA-DJP and VIDA trade unions have criticized the regional government of Salzburg for saying that it won’t commit to honouring the BAGS private health sector collective agreement in its procurement. The regional authority says that it doesn’t have to comply with a collective agreement if it wasn’t involved in the negotiations. The unions argue that the authorities should agree to meet and discuss how to provide sustainable finance for health and social services provision and avoid any (...)

Health and social care workers get 2% increase

After difficult negotiations the VIDA and GPA-DJP trade unions have agreed a 2% pay increase for the 80,000 workers in the private health and social care sector. The agreement runs for 12 months from February 2011 and the unions argue that they have secured a small real pay increase as well as improvements in two areas – leave to look after seriously ill relatives and past service entitlement. The new rules on past service will benefit workers who change employers within the sector as it (...)

Municipal union calls for more jobs and funding for elderly care sector

New regulations have applied in the elderly care sector from 1 January which include a set of values about the treatment of the elderly, including dignity and personal integrity. The Kommunal local government trade union argues that it is all very well to have such regulations but staffing shortages means there is a serious question as to whether the values can be delivered. The union says that it is not just a question of ensuring minimum staffing levels but also on improving pay and (...)

Union criticises health plan

The FP-CGIL public service federation has criticised the government’s latest plan for the health service. The union points out that the plan has lots of proposals about improving services at the same time as needing to implement large cuts in funding. FP-CGIL also highlights what the plan says about social integration and ensuring services to all groups of citizens, including the elderly but with no funding provision for long-term care. In particular, the union asks how can this be done at (...)

Union welcomes court ruling over right to strike in church sector

Ver.di is pleased that a regional labour court has ruled in favour of the right to strike for workers employed by church organisations. The churches are significant employers in the health and social services sector and a protestant church organisation had tried to get strike action outlawed by arguing that it had a special status and was not party to normal collective bargaining. Ver.di pointed out that if church managers act like any other employer in using agency workers, outsourcing (...)

Monthly action over staff shortages

The LBC-NVK public service union is organising monthly strike action at the social care organisation Broeders van Liefde. The staffing shortage in the organisation is so bad that some workers are doing more than 300 hours of overtime a year. The union says that an additional 500 jobs were promised in 2009 but nothing has come of that commitment. The monthly actions will continue until there is an adequate response from the employers and other protest activities will also be organised. Read (...)

Some positive results from campaign to protect precarious workers

Two regional agreements in the health sector and one covering employees dealing with migrant workers mean that many fixed-term workers will have their contracts extended rather than face dismissal this month. The FP-CGIL has been campaigning against government legislation that posed a threat to tens of thousands of temporary workers across the public services. These new agreements will provide some protection but the union will continue its campaign to ensure more fixed-term workers get (...)

Hospital support staff strike to secure rights to sick pay and unsocial hours payments

Employees of the Compass Medirest multinational at hospitals in Southampton and Buckinghamshire have taken strike action in protest at the company’s failure to apply the national health sector agreement. The workers are missing out on sick pay and various unsocial hours payments despite the fact that funding has been made available to ensure that the company’s policies are in line with the Agenda for Change agreement covering the health sector. UNISON has called on contractors across the (...)

EPSU signs recruitment agreement with hospital employers

EPSU and HOSPEEM, the organisation representing hospital employers across Europe, have agreed a framework of actions on recruitment and retention. This is to encourage and enable social partners at European and national levels to develop concrete action to tackle staff shortages and qualification needs now and in the future. In particular, EPSU wants to see action on the spread of fixed-term and agency work and intiatives to improve work-life balance and other conditions in the sector to (...)

Student nurses face “slave labour”

The latest austerity plans from the Department of Health include a proposal to phase out payments to studesnt nurses. Currently they are paid 80% of the minimum of a qualified nurse when they are on work placements. If the plans go ahead this will be reduced to 40% by 2014 and then phased out completely. Read more at > SIPTU (EN)

Hospital workers deliver rise in productivity

The FOA public services union has responded to claims about high levels of employment in hospitals by pointing to the significant increase in productivity. Figures from the union show that in 2009 77 employees deliver the same level of output as 100 employees did in 2001. The FOA also argues that hospitals now employ more staff directly to cover for absences rather than relying on costlier agency workers to do this. Read more at > FOA (...)

Union welcomes minimum staffing requirement

Municipal union Kommunal has welcomed new legislation that will require dementia care homes to provide minimum levels of staffing. The union says this is a victory for both dementia care workers and dementia sufferers. Kommunal will now work to ensure that the new rules are properly applied and adequate funding is provided for extra staff. Read more at > Kommunal (SE)

Unions unhappy about employers’ offer for private health sector

After 13 hours, negotiations over the agreement covering 80,000 workers in the private health and social services sector ended with no progress over the annual pay increase. The GPA-DJP and VIDA unions said the 1.3% offer from the employers was below the trend of recent settlements and would mean a loss of purchasing power with inflation expected to reach 1.8%. They also said it was inadequate for a sector dominated by women where it was important to recognise the value of the work of such (...)

Unions finally agree care sector deal

After lengthy and difficult negotiations unions have managed to negotiate a new collective agreement covering around 400,000 workers in nursing care and care homes. The two-year deal runs to March 2012 and includes a 0.5% pay increase from 1 September 2010 plus a lump sum in December worth 0.6% of annual salary. There are then two increases of 0.75% in 2011 in January and July with the end-of-year bonus increased by 0.5%. Employers commit to allocating 2% of the paybill to training and (...)

Social carers work unpaid overtime

A new survey by the FOA public services union has found that as many as half of all employees in elder care, day care and psychiatry continue working unpaid after their normal working hours to finish their job. The survey also found that a reduction in staff hours has also lead to many care workers working alone and so face more pressure and stress. The union is urging its members to stick to their paid working hours and make management aware of what they can do within those hours and the (...)

Federal court supports equal pay claim

The Federal court has supported case for regarding care staff and midwives taken by the VPÖD public services union and professional associations representing care workers and midwives. This overturns a decision by the cantonal (regional) court in St.Gallen that acknowledged that the workers’ pay grading was too low, but said that the employer wasn’t required to act as there were other occupations that were also undervalued. The federal court made clear that an employer could not use the (...)

Verdi launches campaign against hospital funding cuts

Services union ver.di is warning that healthworkers’ jobs and pay and conditions are under threat from new legislation on hospital funding put forward by federal health minister Philipp Rösler. The union estimates that the €2.5 billion cuts will cost 50,000 jobs at a time when hospitals are already facing staff shortages. Verdi is concerned that hospital employers will target personal costs in particular and this will mean replacing qualified staff with lower skilled workers, more agency work (...)

Union says contract workers shouldn’t replace redundant health workers

The health service has offered voluntary redundancy and early retirement to as many as 4,000 mainly managerial, administrative and clerical staff. The IMPACT public sector union has criticised the short consultation period and level of redundancy pay, questioning also how the health service can manage the cuts. The SIPTU general union has also warned the health service that it would be unacceptable to replace any of the 4,000 with contract or agency staff. Read more at > IMPACT (EN) And at (...)

Union organises demonstrations over early retirement

The SETCA/BBTK union organised three demonstrations on 28 October outside the headquarters of employer organisations in the non-profit health and social care sector. The union is protesting against the employers’ refusal to renew the agreement on early retirement. SETCA/BBTK points out that health and social care workers have very demanding careers and the early retirement provisions are crucial for the sector. Read more at > SETCA (FR) And in Dutch at > (...)

Care sector needs better pay and conditions to attract young workers

A survey of members by the FNV-Abvakabo union found more than nine out of 10 thought that the care sector needed to take action on workload, salary and training and career opportunities. These were the key factors that made the sector unattractive to young people. Over 90% said that the pressure of work was high while only 7% thought that pay was adequate. No progress is being made in the negotiations in the nursing and home care sector where a new agreement covering 400,000 workers is (...)

Union negotiates collective agreement for personal care workers

The JHL has negotiated a new collective agreement that covers around 1,000 workers employed as personal assistants to disabled people. The agreement will run from 1 December 2010 to 30 April 2012 and the union and HETA employers’ organisation will agree on salaries in February next year. The personal helpers currently earn between €7 and €10 an hour. Severely disabled people are entitled to financial support which many of them use to directly employ personal helpers. HETA has around 400 (...)

Unions win improvements in private child care dispute

EPSU affiliates Fagforbundet and Delta, along with the education union, have agreed a deal with employers in private child care. One of the union’s key aims was to ensure that pay increases in the sector were in line with those agreed in the municipal sector. They also won some improvements to pensions and to compensation for continuing education. Read more at > Fagforbundet (...)

Childcare to get collective agreement

The VPÖD public services union is in negotiations with the employers’ organisation representing child care facilities over a collective agreement for the sector. The union says that the sector has seen rapid growth in recent years and it is important that there is a collective agreement to guarantee decent pay and working conditions. It is expected that an agreement will be included in 2011. Read more at > VPÖD (...)

Union’s health section launches newsletter focusing on company’s pay and conditions

Services union ver.di has launched a new newsletter, Zeus, to monitor and report on the Asklepios private health company and, in particular, developments in pay and conditions. Although some individual clinics in the company have collective agreements and there is an agreement covering doctors, around 18,000 workers in the company are not covered by collective bargaining. Ver.di is also campaigning against Asklepios’s use of outsourcing to cut costs and challenging the role of two other (...)

New agreement for youth workers

The FNV Abvakabo and CNV Publieke Zaak unions have agreed a new deal with the MOgroep employers’ organisation in youth care. The agreement covers more than 30,000 employees and includes a wage increase of 1.25% with a one-off payment of € 180. The agreement runs until 1 May 2011 and also includes provisions on training, mobility, social innovation and managing the workload. Employers and unions hope that the measures will lead to improved employability and retention of youth care workers in (...)

Strike possible in private nurseries if mediation fails

EPSU affiliates, Fagforbundet and Delta, are involved in negotiations in the private nursery sector. There is currently a process of mediation but if this fails then the unions will organise strike action. They want to make sure that the increase in the private sector is line with that already agreed in the municipal sector and so far the employers have not made an adequate offer. Read more at > Fagforbundet (NO) And at > Delta (...)

Employers threaten to impose pay deal

Unions negotiating the agreement for nursing homes and home care have been stunned by the proposal of the employers to implement a pay increase rather than agree a deal with the unions. The unions point out that employers are demanding increased flexibility from employees who are facing rising workloads. The employers claim that they have agreed to most of the union demands apart from the percentage pay increase. Unions challenge this, saying that there are still unresolved issues around (...)

Training and better funding needed for cleaner hospitals

A new report on standards of cleanliness in hospitals in the Copenhagen region has revealed widespread problems with only around a third of hospital facilities meeting the required levels of hygiene. The FOA public services union points out this is the latest in a long line of reports that have revealed similar problems and that radical action is needed. It says that rather than the government complaining it should find solutions. The union wants to see more funding for more cleaning and (...)

Unions and employers sign European agreement to tackle third-party violence

EPSU joined with education federation ETUCE and services federation UNI-Europa in signing a new European agreement on third-party violence. The multi-sector agreement was negotiated with employers in the local and regional government and health sectors along with employers in the education, retail and security sectors. The agreement calls for increasing awareness and understanding of the issue among employers, workers and public authorities and underlines the need to properly assess the (...)

Union aims for 7% increase in negotiations

The ver.di services union has initiated negotiations with the Sana health company with a claim for a 7% increase in pay. This follows consultation with ver.di members in the company and discussion at the collective bargaining committee. Sana runs 41 hospitals across Germany and employs 19,000 workers. Ver.di points out that its latest figures show a significant increase in turnover and profits and that the increased workloads for all employees fully justify the pay rise. Read more at > (...)

Action in non-profit sector wins some concessions

Unions in the non-profit sector (health, social services, social housing) have been campaigning for years for increased funding for the sector that would boost employment and allow for better pay and conditions. The latest demonstration in Brussels took place on 14 September. Some elements of an agreement signed in 2001 have still not been implemented in Brussels where workers are still waiting for their 13th month salary and allowances for transport costs to be paid. There is now the (...)

Demonstration highlights demand for increased funding for child care and social care

Members of the VIDA services union joined a 900-strong demonstration in Vienna as part of their continuing campaign to secure increased funding for the health and social care sectors. With understaffing leading to burn-out the union wants to see more resources for jobs, training and decent pay and conditions. Read more at > VIDA (DE)

Private health deal finally agreed

After 56 months, workers in the private health sector are getting a pay increase. The last collective agreement on pay effectively expired at the end of 2005 and the three trade union federations have been trying to negotiate a new agreement with the AIOP employers’ organisation ever since. On average pay will increase by €103 a month as of September. The three federations are pleased that the national agreement has been maintained and that the increase goes some way to recognising the value (...)

Telephone hotline set up to advise care workers on minimum wage

The ver.di services union ran another telephone hotline at the beginning of September to help ensure workers in the care sector that they were aware of their rights and that employers were not trying to avoid paying the minimum wage. From 1 August care sector workers became entitled to a minimum hourly rate of €8.50 (in the West) or €7.50 (in the East). Read more at > ver.di (...)

Employers break off care sector negotiations

Employers in the nursing home and care sector have broken off negotiations with the unions with failure to agree over pay and the personal budget scheme as well as maternity improvements, flexibility and training. Unions were looking at achieving an increase of around 3.5% over two years with the employers offering only 2.5%. Trade union action in support of the collective bargaining claim has been going on over recent workers and further action is planned. The unions argue that the (...)

Union calls for training in eldercare sector to be maintained

Ver.di has criticised the government for not maintaining the provision of training in elder care. The union points out that over 14,000 people, over half of whom were on state benefits, had benefited from training in elder care. Ver.di sees this as successful both in terms of helping the unemployed get new skills and find jobs but also in beginning to address what is a growing problem of staff shortages in the care sector. However, the government has decided not to continue the training (...)

Survey of works councils in lead up to negotiations

The vida and GPA-DJP trade unions are co-operating in a survey of works council representatives in the private health sector. The unions are also encouraging works councils to organise meetings so that the survey can be discussed with other reps. Read more at > vida (DE)

National protest against wage cut proposals

Public sector workers including health employees, firefighters and police are set to join a demonstration on 21 September against government plans to cut civil service pay in 2011. The proposals are part of the budget cuts put forward by the new government and the health union warns of the risk that the cuts could be deeper than the 10% being talked about. Unions are also concerned about planned government reforms of the Labour Code which they believe are aimed at weakening employee rights (...)

Unions to demonstrate against pay freeze

Public sector unions are building for a major demonstration on 22 September in protest at the government’s plans to freeze pay in 2011 as part of cuts strategy. Unions in the state sector are calling for an increase of 5.3% next year. Read more at > Polish news website (EN)

Negotiations to resume in nursing home and home care sector

Collective bargaining over the VVT nursing home and home care agreement will resume on 14 September following informal talks between the unions and employers over the summer period. Both sides think that there is now scope for an agreement with a key point being provisions on age-related working time to improve work-life balance. Read more at > FNV Abvakabo (NL) And at > CNV Publieke Zaak (NL) And at > NU’91 (...)

Unions break off negotiations with church employers

The Fagforbundet municipal union has broken off negotiations over a new two-year agreement with the church employers. A key matter for dispute is over pay for workers with 20 years’ service and the union says that the employers’ current offer would leave this group of workers around €885 a year worse off than workers with 20 years’ service covered by similar collective agreements. The dispute now goes to arbitration. Read more at > Fagforbundet (...)

Union hotline exposes employers’ attempts to avoid care sector minimum wage

At the beginning of August the 750,000 workers in the care sector were covered by a sectoral minimum wage for the first time. In anticipation of problems with its implementation, services union ver.di set up a telephone hotline for employees to report problems. Evidence from hotline calls indicates that employers were not complying with the new regulations as they were including holiday pay, Christmas pay, shift allowances and bonuses in their calculation of pay when it should just be basic (...)

Union monitors conditions in care homes

The FNV Abvakabo public services union has set up an email address for workers to report examples of poor quality care in care homes. The union says that its members are reporting cases where employers cut costs by failing to employ adequate numbers of workers on shifts or by not employing properly trained staff. Workers are under pressure to take on extra responsibilities or work longer hours. Read more at > FNV Abvakabo (...)

Tribunal ruling backs union’s equal pay claim

Healthcare assistants, domestic supervisors and reception staff, overwhelmingly women, working at a National Health Service Trust have won an Employment Appeal Tribunal case on equal pay. The case backed by the UNISON public services union argued that the women were paid lower rates for unsocial hours working on Saturdays and Sundays when compared to men in comparable jobs. The ruling could be important for women working in other Trusts where there are differences in unsocial hours (...)

Equal treatment ruling on part-time workers’ pay while training

The Equal Treatment Commission has ruled that part-time workers should be fully paid for any work-related training they do. The case involved a part timer covered by the care sector agreement who worked 16 hours a week as a care assistant but who undertook a training course of 28.8 hours a week. The Commission agreed with the trade union that payment should be on the basis of the 28.8 hours and not on the basis of a special rate for trainees in the collective agreement. In this case it (...)

Some health sector employers refuse to sign early retirement agreements

The SETCA/BBTK services union reports that some employers in the non-profit health care sector are refusing to sign agreements setting out provisions for early retirement. The union believes the employers are following the example of the main FEB employers’ organization that has been calling for a hard line on early retirement. SETCA/BBTK argues that these provisions are very important for a sector that is characterized by difficult and stressful occupations and where pay levels are modest. (...)

Two-year deal in care sector

The Kommunal municipal union has signed a new two-year agreement with the health employers’ organisation that covers workers in the care sector. The pay increases are in line with increases in other sectors but the union says the negotiations were difficult and it had to resist employer attempts to undermine employment conditions. This year’s pay rise will be at least SEK 490 (€52) from 1 July and at least SEK 480 (€51) from 1 August 2011. Minimum rates for full-time workers above 19 years will (...)

Employers join call for better conditions in care sector

The BFW employers’ organization has joined the trade unions’ call for increased funding for the care sector and improved pay and conditions for care workers. The GPA-DJP and VIDA trade unions argue that employees are underpaid and work excessive hours and that the quality of care will suffer unless something is done to increase employment in the sector and improve the attractiveness of the caring professions. Read more at > GPA-DJP (DE) And at > VIDA (...)

Workers now benefit from minimum wage in care sector

Services union ver.di has welcomed the fact that the promised minimum wage for the care sector came into force on 1 August. Workers are now entitled to a minimum hourly rate of €8.50 in the West and €7.50 in the East. The rates will be increased to €8.75 and €7.75 from 1 January 2012 and to €9.00 and €8.00 from 1 July 2013. Ver.di had called for a higher rate and is disappointed that there are different rates for East and West Germany. The union is aware that the new regulations do not mean that (...)

Strike at private hospital enters third week

Members of the CGT trade union at the private hospital owned by Médipôle Sud Santé in Narbonne in the South of France have been on strike for over two weeks in support of their demands for a pay increase of 3%, along with a monthly bonus of €100 and a 13th month payment. The union has called on the FHP private hospitals organisation to deal with pay at national level in view of a series of strikes in the sector – 37 around the country in May, June and July. Read more at > CGT (...)

Unions mobilise members in care sector

The FNV-Abvakabo and NU’91 public services unions are calling on their members to mobilise in support of their claims for a new collective agreement in the nursing and home care sector. The unions’ demands are not identical but include salary increase of 1.5% backdated to 1 March 2010; keep night work voluntary for those aged 55-plus; maintain current compensation for working irregular and unsocial hours; improved training agreement; higher compensation for standby duty and better schedules (...)

Threats of cutbacks in health sector angers union

The IMPACT public services union is concerned about proposals to cut jobs and services across the health sector. Fixed-term workers could be the target of planned cutbacks but the union warns that health sector employers should review their plans and ensure that they don’t infringe the “Croke Park” national agreement that ruled out compulsory redundancies in the public services. Read more at > IMPACT (EN) And > similar (...)

Doctors strike over budget cuts

A national strike by doctors took place on Monday 19 July in protest at government plans to cut health budgets. Doctors’ unions warned that the cuts will mean 30,000 fewer doctors in four years’ time while the number of fixed-term workers will be slashed. Unions are concerned about the implications of these cuts for the level and quality of health services provided. Read more at > news website (...)

Government imposes compulsory arbitration to end hospital strike

After two weeks, the government has ended a strike by members of the YS trade union in the hospitals by imposing compulsory arbitration. The union is disappointed with the government’s action having taken measures to ensure patient safety during the action and arguing that it was up to the employer’s organisation, Spekter, to call for arbitration and not the government. The union congratulated its members on their willingness to take strike action in support of equal pay for work of equal (...)

Union wants minister to enact care sector minimum wage

Services union ver.di has called on employment minister Ursula von der Leyen to ensure that the promised minimum wage in the care sector takes effect from 1 August. The union is concerned that further excuses for delay will emerge and in particular it wants the government to be more transparent about opposition to the minimum wage from other ministries. Read more at > ver.di (...)

Unions win €1.2 million for privatised care workers

The UNISON and GMB public service unions have won €1.2 million in compensation for 117 care workers who had new contracts imposed on them by the Excelcare company when it won a contract from Essex County Council in the South East of England. The workers saw their pay cut by 40% at the time of privatisation. The unions pursued the matter through the courts using the TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings) Regulations based on the European Acquired Rights Directive. Read more at > UNISON And at > (...)

Union defends hospitals’ productivity record

The FOA public service union has responded to attacks on inefficiency and laziness in the health service by pointing to a long-run increase in productivity in the sector. There has been a increase of 12,000 staff in hospitals since 2001 but in terms of productivity, 77 workers today deliver the same services as 100 workers then. New technology, shorter waiting lists, better outpatient care are among the factors contributing to this increase in efficiency. Over the last 10 years hospitals (...)

Unions prepare for action in nursing and care home dispute

The employer organisations in the nursing and care home sector failed to respond to a trade union deadline for negotiations and unions are now considering what action to take to put pressure on the employers. Sticking points include working hours and night work for older workers. The unions want a 1.5% pay increase and 2% of the payroll set aside each year for education and training initiatives. The unions are considering the kind of action, such as go-slows on administrative tasks, that (...)

On-call time recognised in holiday entitlement

Workers covered by the two main public sector agreements are set to benefit from new rules that mean on-call time at night is counted as working time. The two agreements that cover health workers provide extra leave for those working nights. There is an extra day for each 150 hours of night work. In line with the Working Time Directive on-call time at work is considered as working time and so on-call time during night work will be counted towards the extra leave entitlement. Read more at > (...)

Union attacks plan for increased pension age for health and social care workers

The GÖD has criticised proposals to increase the retirement age in the health and social care sector. Johann Hable, chair of the health section, pointed out that workers in the sector face shift work, night work and unsocial hours and few even reach the current retirement age. Getting health workers to work longer would increase the risk of burn-out. Instead the union wants to see employers take initiatives to support older workers such as part-time work on full pay, paid rest time and (...)

Day of action on 8 July

Unions in the CGTP confederation are backing a day of action on 8 July as part of the continuing campaign against government austerity measures. The STAL union argues that after the support shown by 300,000 workers on 29 May, it was important to maintain the pressure on the government and its proposals to freeze salaries and attack services and other conditions of employment. Read more at > STAL (...)

Seven union organizations co-ordinate action over pensions

Unions plan to continue their protests and resistance against government plans to raise the pension age. The CGT, CFDT, FO, CFCT, FSU, Solidaires and UNSA argue that the proposals fail to take account of workers, particularly women, with irregular contribution records and those employed in difficult and dangerous occupations. Following the day of action on 29 June, the unions are committed to maintain their opposition throughout the legislative process and will organize the next day of (...)

Over a million workers demonstrate over government austerity measures

The CGIL confederation organized a national strike on 25 June with its members in the private sector called out for a four-hour stoppage while the FP-CGIL public sector federation organized a 24-hour strike in the public sector. The confederation estimates that over a million people joined demonstrations around the country in protest against the government’s planned spending cuts that include a three-year pay freeze for public sector workers and cuts in productivity payments. Read more at > (...)

Confederations unite in fifth general strike against austerity measures

The ADEDY public sector and GSEE private sector union confederation organized their fifth general strike on 29 June in protest against government cuts to the social security system and changes to employment legislation. Read more at > ADEDY (EL) And at > Bloomberg news website (EN)

Federations pose legal challenge to government pay cuts

The three public service federations in the CCOO confederation – Citizens Services, Education and Health – have come together to challenge the legality of the government imposed pay cuts. They argue, for example, that the government cannot rely on the need to take emergency measures as the crisis had been known about for some time and so could not be claimed to an “extraordinary and urgent necessity”. The federations also argue that the government has undermined fundamental rights and in (...)

Employers want pay freeze in care sector

Unions are calling on employers in the care sector to respond to their demands and deliver a pay increase in the current negotiations. The FNV Abvakabo services union is warning of industrial action while the CNV Publieke Zaak union is co-ordinating an email campaign among its members to put pressure on the employers. Abvakabo is also concerned about the employers trying to undermine some existing conditions of employment in relation to working time for older workers and allowances for (...)

Extension of collective agreement for emergency services

The collective agreement covering the Red Cross has been extended to cover all emergency service and ambulance workers. The decision has been welcomed by the GPA-DJP and VIDA trade unions that have been campaigning for over two years against wage dumping the sector. The next target for the unions is to negotiate a single pay structure for whole of the country as the Red Cross agreement currently has different pay levels for different regions. Read more at > VIDA (...)

Federation looks to lower level bargaining on pay

The FPS-CISL public services federation has attacked the government’s plans for a three-year pay freeze for public sector workers. However, the union also believes that lower level bargaining offers an opportunity to negotiate productivity improvements and pay increases for workers. It wants the government to reiterate its support for decentralized bargaining, to confirm that funds for local bargaining will be maintained and that there will be union involvement in negotiating restructuring (...)

Unions walk out of government talks on pay

The eight union organizations in the public sector (CGT, CFDT, FO, CFTC, UNSA, FSU, Solidaires and CGC) twice walked out of meeting with the government at the end of June. On 25 June they ended the meeting when the government failed to make any response to their demands that action was needed to address the 9% loss of purchasing power since 2000. On 30 June they walked out demanding that the government open proper negotiations after being told that the 2010 pay increase would be 0.5% as set (...)

General strike called for 29 September

Following the public sector strike on 8 June, the main confederations have called for a general strike on 29 September in protest at the government plans for public spending cuts and labour law reforms. This is the date of the ETUC’s European-wide mobilization with its key demands of “No cuts, more growth.” The Spanish unions have other action planned in the meantime with mobilizations in the regions on 30 June and then in Madrid on 9 September. Read more at > FSC CCOO (ES) And at > FSP UGT (...)

Federation follows demonstration with strike action

The FP CGIL public services federation has reacted to government plans to cut public spending by organizing a national demonstration on 12 June and this will be followed by a national public strike in most regions on 25 June (with action in some regions on 2 July). The cuts will have a direct impact on public sector workers’ pay. Previously agreed pay increases will be reduced and workers are also likely to lose the productivity-related elements of their salaries. Read more at > FP CGIL (IT) (...)

Confederations continue to protest

A national rally organized on 16 June was the most recent action co-ordinated by the ADEDY public sector and GSEE private sector trade union confederations. The protest was not only over the cuts in public sector pay that will see workers lose up to 35% of pay in real terms over the next four years, but also in opposition to the wide range of other measures the government is pushing through including changes to labour law that will undermine collective agreements. Read more at > ADEDY (...)

Majority of public services unions vote to accept deal with government

The public services unions in the ICTU confederation have voted to accept the so-called Croke Park deal. The agreement commits the government not to cut public service pay again, and to begin the process of reversing recent pay cuts as savings flow from the substantial reforms set out in the deal. It also contains a government commitment to avoid compulsory redundancies, plus important safeguards on pensions and outsourcing. Public service pay has been cut by an average of 14% over the last (...)

National demonstration planned over pension reforms

Five union organizations (CFDT, CGT, FSU, Solidaires and UNSA) are mobilizing for a demonstration on 24 June in protest at government plans to increase the retirement age and employees’ pension contributions. The unions argue that the changes will mean that as a result of the various breaks in their careers many women will have to work until the age of 65 to get a full pension. They point out that generally the reforms don’t acknowledge the scale of the gender pensions gap nor the need to (...)

Day of action over pay and employment rights in church organizations

The ver.di services union organized several demonstrations around the country on 9 June in its continuing campaign to secure better pay and conditions for employees of church-run health and social services. The church organizations have challenged the right to strike in the sector and have refused to negotiate proper collective agreements. Read more at > ver.di (DE)

Protests produce results in non-profit sector

The SETCA services union reports that the regional government of Wallonia has agreed to allocate an additional €4.5m to the non-profit sector in response to demands from the trade unions. The sector includes a range of health and social services and the extra cash will cover a harmonization of pay structures across the sectors, proper application of elements of the 2007-2009 agreement and a range of measures on employment. The union sees this as a first step to meeting its collective (...)

Union attacks proposal to fill care jobs with 15-year-olds

The VIDA services union says that the staff shortages in the care sector need to be tackled by improving pay and reducing hours and not be relying on school-leavers to fill vacancies. Responding to a proposal from a regional politician, VIDA points out that the proposals completely fails to understand the nature of the caring professions and the needs of those in care. Read more at > VIDA (...)

Public sector workers strike against pay cuts

A public-sector wide strike on 31 May was followed by further action on 1 June as unions protested against a government-imposed 25% cut in pay. Workers in local government, prisons, hospitals, transport and other services were involved. Further action may follow in the health sector later in the month. Read more at > CBC news website (EN) And solidarity message at > EPSU (...)

Unions build for general strike on 8 June

Following demonstrations at the end of May, unions are mobilising for a general strike on 8 June in protest at government plans for massive cuts in public spending including a 5% cut in public sector workers’ pay. The FSC-CCOO federation argues that the cuts will have a regressive impact as workers on lower pay rates will suffer larger reductions than the higher paid. Read more at > FSC-CCOO (ES) And at > FSC-CCOO (ES) And at > FSP-UGT (ES) And at > FEP-USO (...)

Federation mobilizes for 12 June protests

The FP CGIL public services federation is planning a national demonstration on 12 June in protest at government proposals for cuts. The union says that public sector pay will be frozen until 2013, recruitment will also be frozen while half of those on fixed-term contracts will lose their jobs. The FP CSIL federation is not planning protests at the moment. It is running a campaign to get workers and citizens to expose waste and unproductive spending in the public sector with arguments that (...)

Massive demonstration against government austerity plans

An estimated 300,000 workers joined the protests on 29 May against government plans to cut public spending. Public service unions have attacked the government for its austerity measures. Apart from freezing pay the government also plans to cut a range of other payments including overtime and performance payments. There will be cuts in pay for some managers and officials as well as a freeze on recruitment and a block on career progression. Workers’ net salary will also be affected by a range (...)

Unions estimate a million workers supported demonstrations

The six unions that organized a day of action on 27 May estimate that around a million people got involved in some 176 demonstrations around the country. The CGT, CFDT, CFTC, FSU, Solidaires and UNSA called the protests in opposition to the government’s policies on the public sector, pay and pensions. After a meeting on 31 May the same group of unions agreed on another national mobilisation on 24 June. Read more at > CGT (FR) And at > CFDT (...)

Union makes urgent call for extra health and social care staff

Ver.di has criticised the government for failing to take action over the desperate need for more care workers in hospitals. The union believes the government fails to appreciate the value of care workers for patients in general as well as for the chronically and terminally ill. The union argues that hospitals need to provide more training opportunities and that there needs to be an improvement in the pay and conditions of care workers in order to improve significantly the numbers joining (...)

Petition backs call for 20,000 more care workers

The VIDA and GPD-DJP unions are campaigning for a major boost to jobs in the care sector. They argue that overwork and burnout pose a threat not just to workers but also to patients and clients. The unions’ are calling for a “social billion” to cover the creation of 20,000 new jobs in the sector. They also want to see a parliamentary enquiry to investigate pay and conditions for care workers and financing of the sector. Read more at > VIDA (...)

Government call s for ethical recruitment of health workers

In recognition of the sharply increasing demands on health and care services, the health minister, Paula Risikko, has argued for an increase in the recruitment of staff from overseas. However, she emphasized that this recruitment had to be in line with ethical guidelines. Around 360,000 people work in health and social care at the moment but an extra 200,000 could be needed by 2040. Read more at > YLE news site (...)

National day of protest over church employers’ attacks on right to strike

The ver.di services union is organising a national day of action on 9 June in protest at the church employers that refuse to sign collective agreements or acknowledge workers’ right to strike. The union points out that increased competition in the health and social services sector has lead to a lowering of sector wide pay levels. Church employers have also ignored demands from the elected employee representatives on the sectoral employment committee to negotiate a collective agreement. Read (...)

Unions react angrily to public sector pay cuts

Public service federations FSC-CCOO and FSP-UGT have attacked the government for its sudden announcement of deep public spending cuts. The government wants to cut pay by 5% this year and freeze it next year. Most pensions will be frozen and a range of other measures will add up to €5 billion of cuts this year and €10 billion in 2011. Unions are angry at the way the government has broken agreements with the unions and wants to force public sector workers to suffer cuts in pay and pensions (...)

Government proposes 25% cuts in public sector pay

The government has announced that it wants to make deep cuts in public spending in 2011 to avoid having to call on the International Monetary Fund for further loans. Public sector pay could be cut by 25% and pensions by 15%. Unions and opposition parties are planning protests and the Sex Lex civil service federation is consulting members over strike action. Read more at > Sed Lex (RO) And at > SETimes (EN) Read more at > Irish Times (...)

Confederations plan next joint general strike for 20 May

The ADEDY public sector and GSEE private sector confederations have agreed to joint action on 20 May in the latest protest at the cuts being pushed through by the Greek government in accordance with demands from the European Commission and International Monetary Fund. The unions are focusing in particular on cuts to pensions and social security highlighting the fact that a major problem has been previous government failure to tackle the high levels of undeclared work that had reduced the (...)

Union decides to recommend acceptance of public service agreement

Following a key court ruling and further clarification from the Labour Relations Commission (LRC), the executive of the IMPACT public service union has decided that it will recommend that it members accept the public service agreement proposed by the government. The court ruled that important parts of an existing agreement covering performance management, outsourcing guarantees, premium pay rates and other issues would continue to be valid. The LRC also confirmed that unions would be fully (...)

Minister tries to block care sector minimum wage

Services union ver.di has reacted angrily to attempts by economics minister Rainer Brüderle of the FDP to block the introduction of a minimum wage to cover the 800,000 workers in the care sector. Ver.di had already managed to get agreement from the employers for minimum rates of €8.50 an hour in the West and €7.50 an hour in the East. Before the intervention of Brüderle, CDU labour minister Ursula von Leyen had indicated that it would be possible to implement legislation soon so that the rates (...)

Days of action on pay, jobs and pensions

Five trade union organisations have issued a joint call for a day of action on 27 May. The CGT, CFDT, UNSA, Solidaires and FSU will be mobilising in protest at government plans to freeze public spending for three years. The unions want to see increases in public sector pay and an end to job cuts. They are also concerned about proposals to change the pensions system and the fact that the government has allowed little time for consultation on the issue. Meanwhile the FO confederation has (...)

Non-profit sector workers mobilise for 8 June

Unions organising workers in the non-profit sector have called for a major national demonstration on 8 June in protest at the failure of the federal, community and regional governments to undertake meaningful negotiations. The unions are calling for a range of measures to improve purchasing power and employment conditions and increase employment in a sector that delivers a range of health and social services. Read more at > SETCA (FR) And at > BBTK (NL) And at > La Capitale news (...)

Unions plan day of action for 19 May

Unions representing workers in the nursing, care home and home care sector have called a demonstration on 19 May outside a meeting of the employers’ organisation. Employers are demanding a pay freeze but unions argue that this goes counter to previous agreements that should guarantee job security and the maintenance of purchasing power. Unions say that further action will be planned if the employers don’t change their position. Read more at > FNV Abvakabo (NL) And at > CNV Publieke Zaak (NL) (...)

Survey reveals pressure of work faced by health employees

A survey by the Lower Austrian Chamber of Labour reveals the extent to which health workers’ well-being is under threat from stress and long hours. The survey of around 33,000 employees found one in five were emotionally exhausted while 27% worked 12-14 hours a day. Some 40% of employees worked more than 40 hours a week even though only 1% had agreed to work such long hours. One in four new jobs are in the health sector and there are around 6,000 vacancies nationwide. The Chamber of Labour (...)

Union stresses need for trained workers in elder care

The FOA public services union has said that volunteers cannot plug the growing skills gap in the elder care sector. Responding to the minister for social welfare’s call for more volunteers, the union argues that proper elder care requires skilled workers and the combination of recruitment shortages and the growing number of elderly means that an additional 70,000 workers will be needed in the sector by 2019. Read more at > FOA (...)

Nurses’ union in overtime ban

The TEHY nurses’ union is running an overtime ban to put pressure on municipal employers to allow the union a greater role in collective bargaining. The union is ensuring that patient safety is not jeopardised and says that the action is having an impact on patient waiting times. The current collective agreement was negotiated in 2007 and runs until 2011. A conciliation process is due to begin on 17 May. Read more at > TEHY (FI) And at > YLE news (...)

Campaign against cuts continues

After a national public sector strike on 22 April, the civil service confederation ADEDY is calling on its members to support a general strike on 5 May, co-ordinated with the GSEE private sector confederation. Read more at > ADEDY (GR) And at > ERT news website (EN)

Union leader puts pressure on employers to act on equality

With pay negotiations underway, president of the Kommunal municipal workers’ union, Ylva Thorn, has called on local government employer organisations SKL and SALAR to put words into action and tackle the gender pay gap. Writing in the Dagbladet national newspaper, Thorn argues that employees working in female-dominated professions face higher levels of part-time work, job insecurity, work-related ill health and above all lower pay. She points out that with average pay at SEK 20750 (€2150) (...)

Union criticises incoherent hospital jobs policy

The FOA public services union has attacked the decision by some hospitals to cut jobs because of increased productivity. The union argues that hospital workers have been successful in treating more patients than ever before but the outcome for many is redundancy. FOA also points out the decisions by individual hospitals effectively contradict government policy that has targeted reductions in jobs in the municipalities over the next couple of years in order to provide more health sector (...)

Unions reject further changes to pensions

Public service unions have made clear that they are unhappy about government proposals to change the pension age and calculation. The CGT local government federation wants to retain the right to retire at 60 and for a pension worth 75% of salary after a full career. It also called on the government to organise negotiations involving all the public service federations. FO’s civil service federation has attacked the conclusions of a report from the Pensions Advisory Council. The federation (...)

Church continues to block moves to collective bargaining

Service ver.di has again criticised the Evangelical Church for trying to prevent the union negotiating a collective agreement to cover the church’s 130,000 workers who deliver a range of health and social services. The church wants a so-called Employment Commission to regulate pay and conditions and was putting pressure on worker representatives to support this option by saying that collective bargaining was not an option. Read more at > ver.di (...)

Unions divided over public service agreement

Public sector unions are divided over their response to the draft public service agreement that was drawn up to end industrial action over pay, pensions and jobs. The core of the agreement was the idea that public sector pay cuts would gradually be reversed if efficiency savings were made. The CPSU and Impact public sector unions argue that the agreement does not deliver real guarantees in terms of pay and pensions for their members and so they are recommending that their members vote (...)

Public sector confederation plans further strike action

The ADEDY civil service confederation has called a national strike on 22 April as part of its continuing campaign against government imposed cuts to the pay and conditions of public sector unions. The union argues strongly that its members should not pay for the crisis and also criticises the European Union for the way it has intervened in the Greek situation. Read more at > ADEDY (...)

Union maintains campaign over childcare regulations

Following strike action on 8 April, the CGT local and regional government federation is continuing its campaign against new regulations on childcare. The union argues that the changes will reduce the level of trained staff required at a crèche, a matter of concern not just for the workers in the sector but also for parents. The union is preparing for further strike action on 6 May and a national demonstration on 29 May and is also urging local councils to protest against the new regulations (...)

New agreement for childcare sector should be signed soon

The Abvakabo public services union is confident that a new collective agreement for the childcare sector will be signed soon. The agreement will last from 1 May 2010 to 31 December 2011. The basic pay increases will be 1.25% from 1 May 2010 and 1.0% from 1 May 2011. It is possible that the agreement will also include a new personal budget system that will allow individual employees to select the types of benefits they want. Read more at > FNV Abvakabo (...)

Union plans action over childcare workers’ pay and conditions

The VPÖD/SSP public services union is considering what action it can take to improve the pay and conditions of childcare workers. It argues that the responsibilities and physical strains of the job are not properly recognised. The union notes the success of ver.di last year in its campaign to win higher pay and improved working conditions for childcare workers and meetings at the end of April in Zürich and Bern will discuss strategy with contributions from colleagues in ver.di. Read more at > (...)

Hospitals accused of using nurses as cleaners

The FOA public services union has expressed concern about a survey showing that one in four nurses are spending time cleaning beds. The union believes that hospitals are trying to reduce costs by cutting jobs and they believe that service assistants are more dispensable than nurses. However, the union points out that service assistants are specifically trained for cleaning tasks and nurses are not. FOA argues that hospital cleaning is a vital job that requires proper training in order to (...)

Union protests over precarious employment at institution for the blind

On 14 April the FSC-CCOO services federation co-ordinated demonstrations outside 25 centres around the country run by the ONCE institution for blind people. The federation was again raising questions about how the institution is run, its attitude to trade unions and the increase in precarious employment practices. The union hopes that an initial meeting with management will be followed up soon with negotiations on the key issues. Read more at > FSC-CCOO (...)

Demonstrations planned in non-profit sector

Unions organising workers in the non-profit sector are planning demonstrations in Brussels, Liege and Charleroi in protest at the fact that the neither the French community government nor the Wallonia regional government have budgeted for pay increases. The non-profit sector covers a range of health and social services including childcare and housing. Unions have put forward a range of key demands some of which they have been pursuing for several years. Among other things they want the (...)

Municipal union pulls out of ineffective agreement

The SKTF municipal union has announced that it is pulling out of an agreement because its members are not getting the pay increases that have been negotiated. The union has signed three agreements in the private health sector, two of which expire this year. The third agreement should run until 2011 but SKTF has found that around 30% of its members in health companies have not had pay increases that are due to them. The union accuses the Almega employers’ organization of failing to monitor (...)

Private sector deal welcomed by unions

A basic hourly increase of NOK 1 (worth NOK 1950 annually €245) and NOK 0.5 per hour per employee allocated to an equal pay pot are the key elements of the latest agreement negotiated between the Spekter employers’ organizations and unions in the LO and YS confederations. Spekter covers around 190 firms with 180,000 employees in a range of sectors but mainly health, transport and energy. Read more at > Fagforbundet (...)

Unions examine government proposal on pay and jobs

After several weeks of industrial action, public service unions have been presented with a proposal by the government to settle the dispute over pay cuts. A key element of the agreement is that there will be no further public sector pay cuts and the cuts that have been implemented will start to be reversed if specific public sector efficiency savings are achieved. The priority will be to restore pay levels for workers on less than €35,000 a year. The deal would see the freeze on recruitment (...)

Public service confederation maintains protests

The ADEDY public sector confederation continues to protest against government pay cuts and more immediately over the cut of the normal bonus paid at Easter. The latest demonstrations, organised with private sector unions, took place on 23 March. Read more at > ADEDY (GR)

Minimum wage for the care sector

Services union ver.di has agreed a minimum wage for the care sector that will be implemented by the federal government from 1 July 2010. There will be two rates - €8.50 per hour in the west and €7.50 in the east. The rates will then be increase to €8.75 and €7.75 in January 2012 and then to €9.00 and €8.00 in January 2013. Ver.di regrets the fact that there is a split between east and west and that the rate was not higher. It had some support from employers but not from the main private (...)

New collective agreement in electricity industry

The three federations in the electricity industry – FILCEM-CGIL, FLAEI-CISL and UILCEM-UIL – have signed a new agreement that sets out pay increases during 2010-2012. There will be a 2.8% increase this year from 1 March and a 3.1% increase from 1 January 2011. In 2012 there will be two increases – 3.0% from 1 January and 1.75% from 1 July. The agreement covers around 59,000 employees in 130 companies, including ENEL and EON. Read more at > FILCEM-CGIL (IT) And at > FLAEI-CISL (IT) Read more (...)

Negotiations and further mobilisations

Pay, purchasing power, pensions and civil service status will all be on the agenda of forthcoming negotiations between public sector unions and the government. However, the CGT local and regional government federation thought that union criticism of key government policies on public services fell on deaf ears and that further mobilisations like that of 23 March would be needed to keep pressure on the government. The FO civil service federation also criticised the government for refusing to (...)

Union federations criticise low replacement rate

The FSC-CCOO and FSP-UGT federations have attacked the government for recruitment plans and its decision to replace only one in 10 public sector workers when they leave their jobs. The FSC-CCOO federation was already critical of the 15% replacement rate included in the 2010 budget and warns that a 10% replacement rate will threaten to undermine the quality of public services. The cuts are particularly of concern in the current period when defending employment is a key part of the response (...)

Private sector deal agreed for most workers

The main private sector collective agreement has been finalised and will provide minimum pay increases of 1.2% in 2010 and 1.8% in 2011. Local bargaining will mean further increases on top of these minima. The agreement runs until 31 March 2012 and is important in relation to the two public sector agreements for state and municipal workers where bargaining will begin towards the end of the year to renew the agreements by 1 April 2011. The private sector deal also includes improved parental (...)

Unions organise series of protests over pay and cuts

Government policies to deal with the economic crisis and the requirements of loan packages involving the International Monetary Fund and European Commission are continuing to meet with widespread resistance from Romanian trade unions. A series of protests have been organised in March and further action is planned in April and May. Read more at > seeurope news website (EN)

Health sector deal extended

The 1.5% pay increase agreed for the private health and social care sector has been confirmed and extended to cover employers who are not members of the BAGS employers’ organisation. This means that a further 40,000 employees will be covered by the agreement which provides for a minimum salary of €1300 a month. Read more at > GPA-DJP (DE) And at > VIDA (DE)

Nearly one in 10 workers on fixed-term contracts

The latest economic policy briefing from services union ver.di reveals that 2.7 million workers, nearly 10% of all employees in Germany are on fixed-term contracts. This is a significant increase from the early 1990s. The briefing notes in particular that two thirds of new jobs in the public and social services are fixed-term. Ver.di wants employers to justify the use of such contracts and to stop using them as part of normal employment practice. Read more at > ver.di (...)

Increased violence and harassment in public services

A major survey of working conditions by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health provides a detailed picture covering both public and private sectors. Looking back over 10 years the survey finds that there have not been significant improvements in working conditions overall and that in some cases – violence and harassment, for example – workers have seen a deterioration. This is particularly so in the health and social services sector but also, in terms of violence at work, in public (...)

Confederation plans further strike action

The ADEDY civil service confederation has warned of further strike action in March or April in protest at cuts to public sector pay and pensions. ADEDY joined with the GSEE private sector confederation in a general strike on 11 March. Following a two-day strike on 16-17 March, energy workers have threatened another 48-hour strike unless the government withdraws a 7% pay cut and 10% cut in pensions. Read more at > Reuters (EN) And at > ADEDY (...)

Unions step up action

Public sector unions have decided to step up their industrial action in response to the government’s failure to negotiate over further pay cuts. The unions want the government to agree a transformation programme that would allow pay cuts to be reversed as savings are made. As part of the industrial action low paid workers in seven Dublin hospitals will be taking strike action both over the current national dispute but also over the threat to outsource services. Read more at > IMPACT (EN) And (...)

High level of support for strike

Both the STAL and SINTAP trade unions report a very high level of support for the national public sector strike on 4 March. They estimate turnout at between 75% and 85% with all parts of the public sector affected. The strike was in protest at the government’s call for a public sector pay freeze and with a demand for a proper process of negotiation. Read more at > SINTAP (PT) Read more at > STAL (...)

Confederation claims a million workers on the streets

The CGIL trade union confederation organised a four-hour general strike and a series of demonstrations across the country in protest at the government’s policies on dealing with the crisis, taxation, employment rights and migrants’ rights. Read more at > CGIL (EN) Read more at > CGIL (IT)

Confederation co-ordinates range of action around collective bargaining

Trade union affiliates of the LO blue-collar workers’ confederation have been involved in a range of demonstrations and events highlighting the importance and value of collective agreements. The main collective bargaining round is underway and LO wants to ensure that workers are aware of the benefits of collective agreements both to those covered by them but also to the working of society and the economy in general. Read more at > LO (...)

Union calls on parliament to address burn-out and stress in health and social care

The VIDA services union is urging parliament to launch a study into the increasing pressure under which health and social care employees work. Long working hours, long periods on call and too few staff are creating major problems in the sector and 22,000 workers signed a petition organised by VIDA and the GPA-DJP services union. Read more at > VIDA (DE)

Parliament votes for common training provision for hospital cleaners

The FOA public services union has welcomed a parliamentary vote in favour of requiring hospital cleaners to be properly trained. The union referred to recent scandals about the standards of cleanliness in metropolitan hospitals and is pleased that the need for proper training for cleaning staff has been recognised. Read more at > FOA (DK)

Pensions is focus of national strike

The FO confederation, including its public service federations, will be taking strike action on 23 March in protest at government plans to make further changes to the pensions system. Read more at > FO (FR)

Union campaigns for increased health service training

The VPÖD/SSP public service union is campaigning for a substantial increase in funding for healthcare training. The latest step in the campaign is a resolution going to the federal government calling for annual additional funding of 90m CHF (€62m) and co-ordination between the federal and cantonal (regional) authorities. VPÖD/SSP estimates that at the moment an additional 4,600 people need to be trained to fill the growing shortfall in trained personnel that threatens the quality of healthcare (...)

Public sector workers taking action in lead up to 23 March

The CGT reports that many groups of workers at local and sectoral level are taking action over pay and government proposals to restructure public services. Nursery workers, sports employees, housing workers and police are among the specific groups of workers who are organising demonstrations and other action in the lead up to or following the main day of action on 23 March. Read more at > CGT (...)

Collective bargaining committee backs deal worth 3.5%

Workers in federal and local government will be asked to vote on a new collective agreement that was accepted by ver.di’s collective bargaining committee. Ver.di says that overall the deal is worth 3.5%. There is a 1.2% pay increase backdated to 1 January 2010 and then there will be two increases in 2011 – 0.6% on 1 January and 0.5% on 1 August. There will also be a €240 lump sum paid on 1 January 2011. The union’s assessment is that this is a reasonable agreement bearing in mind the difficult (...)

Unions call national strike for 4 March

Public sector unions have called a national strike for 4 March in protest at the government’s plans to freeze public sector pay until 2013. The SINTAP union points out that workers have already lost 6%-7% of purchasing power in recent years as a result of pay increases falling behind inflation. The STAL union says that the 50,000-strong demonstration on 5 February showed the level of anger among public sector workers and is convinced of a high turnout on the day. Read more at > SINTAP (PT) (...)

Unions plan action for 23 March

Public service federations are planning to take action on 23 March in protest at a range of government policies that threaten to undermine the public services and the pay and conditions of public services workers and reduce pension entitlement. The CGT, FSU, CFDT, UNSA and Solidaires unions and federations have issued a call for strike action on the day with a list of key concerns covering employment conditions, job cuts, threatened increases to the pension age and cuts in public finances. (...)

Federation reports on negotiations for managers

The CISL public service federations has published the latest issue of its bilingual collective bargaining newsletter that reports on developments covering chief officers across the public sector. Negotiations covering chief officers in the ministries, regional and local administrations, non-economic public bodies and tax agencies, and non-medical managers of the national health system are all set to take place with the initial agreement in the ministries setting the main standard. Here the (...)

Union hails success of adult training initiative

The FOA public services union has welcomed the significant increase in the number of adult trainees in the field of health and social care. Between November 2007 and November 2009 there was more than a threefold increase in the number of over-25s taking advantage of a special adult learners’ wage to train in health and social care. As of November 2009 the 6504 employees made up 55% of all health and social care trainees. The special wage rate was negotiated as part of the municipal (...)

Union welcomes progress for childcare workers

The SETCA/BBTK service union has welcomed the agreement in principle to establish a new statute covering the pay and employment conditions of around 10,000 childcare workers. The union believes that it is important that the importance and professionalism of this overwhelmingly female workforce is recognised and properly regulated. However, the union is concerned about commitments from the federal government to ensure that funding is available to pay for the improved employment conditions (...)

Negotiations begin in care and nursing home sector

The FNV-Abvakabo public services union has begun negotiations covering 460,000 workers in the care and nursing home sector. The union is looking for a 1.5% increase plus improvements to work-life balance. Abavakabo believes working time is a key issue for care sector employees and who want hours to better suit their personal circumstances and an end to any zero-hours contracts. The union demands were formulated following a survey of members at the end of last year. The previous collective (...)

Court ruling disappoints union

Ver.di has expressed its disappointment that the labour court in Bielefeld has ruled that the special status of church organisations means that their employees do not have the right to strike. The church employers took the issue to court following strike action by ver.di members last year that put pressure on church organisations to accept a new collective agreement. The union hopes that Germany’s main constitutional court will take a different approach and rule that the special status of (...)

ADEDY claims large turnout in public sector strike

The ADEDY civil service confederation said that support for the national public sector strike on 10 February was very high – overall at 75% with up to 90% backing in some areas. The unions were protesting at government plans to cut public sector pay as part of a strategy, supported by the European Commission, to deal with the governments budget deficit. Read more at > ADEDY (GR) And at > the Guardian news website (...)

Unions united in boycott of social dialogue meeting

The seven main public sector federations have issued a joint statement explaining their decision to stay away from the state civil service committee in protest at the government’s insistence that the meeting should discuss its new regulations on restructuring. The new decree will reduce civil servants’ rights in the case of a restructuring so that they will have to accept more or less any job rather than remain in the area in which they currently work. The unions argue that this is part of (...)

New municipal agreement aims to close pay gap

The new two-year agreement covering municipal workers includes 0.8% increase this month for certain groups of workers such as those in catering, cleaning, social care and childcare and then 0.7% to be allocated at local level in September. Unions had wanted to make some progress on parental leave and to place limits on the use of fixed-term workers but these were not part of the agreement. The deal has still to be approved by union members. Read more at > JHL (...)

Nurses’ union anger at arbitration

The NSF nurses’ union is angry that the government has intervened in the union’s dispute with private sector health employers. The union had been trying to ensure that nurses employed by companies in the NHO employers’ federation in line with nurses in the public sector. The employers threatened to close a hospital in reaction to the union’s industrial action and the government stepped in to force the dispute to arbitration. The union has called on the government to abide by Convention 94 of (...)

Union defends hospital workers

The GDG-KMSfB public services union has attacked calls for new collective agreements in hospitals that would threaten the current earnings of health workers. The union made clear that it would defend hospital workers’ pay and conditions and call for improvements in view of their hard work and unsocial hours. The GDG also criticised the employers’ organisation (Wirtschaftskammer) for claiming that massive savings could be made through privatisation of health services. Read more at > GDG (...)

Unions organise joint meeting over pay cuts

As public-sector wide industrial action continues, unions have organised a joint mass meeting in Galway on 23 February to discuss the progress of union campaigning against the pay cuts forced through by the government in its latest budget. These cuts, along with the pensions levy introduced last year, mean that take home pay for many public sector workers has been cut by 14%. Read more at > SIPTU (...)

Red Cross workers reject pay freeze

A meeting of works council reps has called on the Red Cross in Vienna to stop delaying and make a pay offer and not try to freeze pay for 2010. The workers argue that their pay should rise in line with workers delivering similar services and point to the recent agreement in the BAGS private health negotiations that produced a 1.5% pay increase. Read more at > VIDA (DE)

Union launches petition to reduce number of contract workers in public sector

In response to a statement by President Sarkozy that contract workers in the public sector would gradually be given civil servant status, the CGT public services federation has launched a petition supporting this demand. The petition also calls for any contract worker to be reinstated if their contract has been terminated since 1 January. The CGT says that there are around 840,000 contract workers in the public sector with some 30% of workers in local and regional government working on (...)

National public sector strike on 10 February

The ADEDY public sector confederation has called a national strike on 10 February in protest at the socialist government’s plans to cut public sector pay and employment. The government measures are a reaction to demands from the European Commission for drastic reforms to the country’s public sector finances. The government had already implemented a pay freeze in 2009 but ADEDY reports that workers are now facing pay cuts in 2010 of between 3% and 15%. Read more at > ADEDY (GR) Read more at > (...)

Health workers demonstrate in Kosovo

Health workers at the main hospital in Pristina marched to the health ministry in protest at the government’s failure to implement a 30% pay increase that had been agreed by parliament last year. Read more at > Balkan Insight website (EN)

Nurses strike over pay in private sector

Members of the NSF nurses’ union are on strike to secure better pay and conditions in the private nursing homes, rehabilitation centres and occupational health services run by NHO Service. Nurses working for NHO have lower pay than in the public sector or other private health institutions. They also lose out when it comes to sick leave and time off for maternity and other factors. NSF has been trying to negotiate a collective agreement with NHO for three years and resorted to strike action (...)

Unions mobilise workers in non-profit sector

Workers in the non-profit sector that includes hospitals and social services took to the streets in December and early February in support of union demands for the 2010 collective agreement. The unions are concerned that government budgets for 2010 don’t include any provisions for a revised agreement. Read more at > LBC-NVK (NL) And at > VRT news website (EN) And at > CGLSB (...)

Health and social service workers get 1.5%

The VIDA and GPA-DJP trade unions have negotiated a 1.5% increase for most workers covered by the private sector health and social services agreement. However, the deal includes a minimum increase of €24 which means the lowest paid get an increase of 1.86%. The unions say that the successful negotiations would not have been possible without the active support and intervention of workers and works council members. Read more at > VIDA (...)

Church employees show growing dissatisfaction over pay and conditions

Public services union ver.di reports that there is increasing discontent among church employees over the failure of the Evangelical Church to negotiate collective agreements to cover its 150,000 workers who work mainly in health and social services. Recent years have seen no pay increases and employees argue that there is not a fair distribution of representation on the committee that deals with employment issues. Ver.di is calling for a collective agreement to cover the church employees (...)

Union announces industrial action from 25 January

The IMPACT public services union is set to begin industrial action on 25 January in protest at the government’s plans for further cuts in public employees’ pay. Initially the industrial action will be a work-to-rule so IMPACT members will be refusing to co-operate with management demands that require anything beyond normal duties. the union says it will take a flexible approach across the different parts of the public sector and has a range of other actions that it may resort to as part of (...)

Civil service union plans strike for 10 February

The ADEDY civil service federation has called a national strike on 10 February in protest at government plans to cut public spending and freeze pay for many public sector workers. Read more at > ADEDY (GR) Read more at > Reuters (EN)

New collective agreement covering ambulance workers

After lengthy negotiations the FNV Abvakabo and CNV Publieke Zaak trade unions have signed a new collective agreement for the ambulance sector that replaces the four previous agreements in the sector. The two-year agreement will take effect on 1 January 2011 and will involve a three-stage increase in the year-end bonus from 5% to 8.33% of annual salary. There will also be two 1% increases to basic pay. Read more at > FNV-Abvakabo (NL) And at > CNV Publieke Zaak (...)

Health unions take action over threat to doctors’ pay

Despite threats of legal action from the government, unions representing doctors and other health workers were involved in protests on 19 January against proposed reforms to the health service. The changes will mean that doctors will lose their current right to work part-time in private institutions and this will mean a substantial cut in pay. The Hürriyet news website also carries an article outlining the urgent need for Turkey’s labour laws to be reformed because of the major and unfair (...)

Unions organise over 100 actions for 21 January

The CGT, FSU and Solidaires union organisations are co-ordinating over 100 demonstrations and other actions on 21 January as part of their campaign of opposition to government policies on the public services. The latest message to come from the government includes plans for further job cuts across the public services with 34,000 jobs to go in central government alone and cuts also likely in local and regional government and the health service. Read more at > CGT (...)

17% of full-time workers are low-paid

A new analysis of statistics by Eurostat finds that 17% of full-time workers are low-paid – that means they are paid less than two-thirds of national median earnings. The data comes from the 2006 structure of earnings survey that excludes public administration. However, the statistics do cover the energy sector, which has the lowest proportion of low-paid workers, and the health sector where nearly 15% of full-time employers are low-paid. The report also reveals that 23.1% of women workers (...)

Unions challenge outsourcing claims

The FOA and OAO trade union organisations have questioned the conclusions of a report that claims municipalities can achieve 15%-20% cost savings if they outsource local care services. FOA and OAO undertook a review of the report that was published in November by the Procurement Council. The unions challenge the savings achieved and suggest that this is normally because private firms used staff with lower levels of training than in the municipal sector and rely more on part-time workers and (...)

Government attacked over nurses’ pay

Trade unions have criticised health minister Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin for what they see as misleading statements about proposed increases to nurses’ pay. The unions say that her claims that nurses will see their pay rise by €2500 only applies to a small proportion of specialist nurses and that this will only be from 2016. For new starters nurses’ pay will be worth 20% more than the minimum wage from 2016. In contrast, at the beginning of the 1980s starting salaries for nurses were worth 50% (...)

Unions co-ordinate action in four cities over health sector pay

Negotiations over pay for 80,000 health and social services workers in the private sector were broken off on 21 December. Union members are seriously disappointed with the employers’ latest offer of a 1.17% pay increase. The increase on some pay rates and allowances would only be 0.9% and the employers also want to abolish the 50% additional payment for working the 39th and 40th hours each week. Works council members are being co-ordinated in demonstrations taking place in four cities on 14 (...)

Call for better pay offer or better employment conditions

The vida trade union is demanding an improved pay offer for the 15,000 employees in private and non-profit health institutions. The union says that the current offer of 0.9% does not recognise the contribution made by employees but vida also wants to see improvements to employment conditions. It says that employers make excessive demands on employees both at work and being on-call and that there needs to be a much firmer arrangements for employees’ working time and time off. Read more at > (...)

Hospital workers want to plug gaps in collective agreement

With negotiations set to begin over the main public sector agreement (federal and local government) members of ver.di in the hospital sector want to make sure their demands are dealt with. The union has been getting members involved in discussing the key demands by sending out questionnaires about the main issues. For example, unlike the rest of federal and local government, hospitals and old people’s homes are not covered by rules that take account of breaks in working time. This is the (...)

Hospital workers strike to get nationally agreed pay

Cleaners, porters, cooks and other workers employed by the Sodexo company at North Devon District Hospital in the South West of England were due to take two days’ strike action on 4 January. They are protesting about the failure of the company and the hospital to ensure that the workers are paid in line with the national health sector agreement (Agenda for Change). Higher pay rates should have been introduced in as long ago as 2006. Read more at > UNISON (...)

Unions protest over savage budget cuts

Trade unions mobilized for a demonstration outside the Irish parliament in protest at the government’s budget proposals that include €4 billion in cuts. Social and welfare payments are affected while public sector workers will see their pay cut by 6%-8%. This follows on from last year’s “pensions levy” which effectively meant a 7% cut in take home pay for public sector workers. Read more at > Impact (EN) Read more background at > Impact (EN) And at > SIPTU (...)

Public sector workers to get 0.9% plus €4

After several very challenging rounds of negotiations the GÖD and GDG public service unions have accepted a pay increase of 0.9% plus €4 a month for 2010. The government had initially said that it had only budgeted for a 0.5% increase in the pay bill and that it only wanted to pay a lump sum payment. The flat-rate increase of €4 means that the overall increase for the lowest paid will be 1.23% and 0.94% for the highest paid. Other payments and allowances will increase by 0.9%. The increase (...)

Unions claim success in strike action and demonstrations

The three public service federations have been mobilizing in recent weeks to put pressure on the government to ensure that public sector pay increases are properly funded. Pay agreements will now cover three-year periods rather than two and in the past unions have negotiated pay increases with the ARAN negotiating body only to find that the government causes problems by failing to allocate resources in the budget. The FP CGIL federation organized a public sector wide strike on 11 December (...)

Report shows real value of public service workers

A new study by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) challenges the way jobs are valued in the labour market and uncovers the additional social and environmental value of key public service jobs such as hospital cleaners, childcare workers and waste and recycling workers. The NEF contrasts the positive social and environmental contributions of these jobs with the negative impact of top bankers, advertising executives and tax consultants. According to NEF calculations while collecting salaries (...)

Health sector negotiations continue

The GPA-DJP and vida trade unions have rejected the latest offer from the employers in the private health and social service sector for an increase below the current inflation rate (up to 0.5%). Works council representatives are meeting around the country to discuss the pay negotiations and to plan their response following the next round of negotiations on 21 December. The unions are looking for a real pay increase as well as other measures to help close the gender pay gap. Works council (...)

Public sector unions plan further action after national strike

Public sector unions have called on the government to negotiate or face another national strike on 3 December. The unions’ action on 24 November was widely supported and was in protest at government proposals to make further cuts in public spending and public sector pay, despite already implementing cuts and imposing a 7% pension levy on all public sector workers. Read more at > IMPACT (EN) And at > SIPTU (EN) Read more at > Guardian (...)

Public sector unions plan national action in December

The three main public sector union federations are all planning to protest against government policy on funding public sector pay. On 2 December the CISL FP and UIL FPL federations have called for a day of action demanding that the government honour agreements negotiated for the 2008-2009 period and ensure that funding will be available for the next bargaining round that will cover the three years 2010-2012. The FP-CGIL federation has called a national public sector strike on 11 December (...)

Strike action secures higher pay increase

Church employers, providing mainly health and social services, have finally conceded the first increase to pay rates since 2004 following several actions by members of ver.di in October 2008, May 2009 and again in September 2009. There are three elements to the pay increases. There is a flat-rate rise that benefits the lowest paid workers in particular, following the example of the public sector agreement negotiated in 2008. Then there are two percentage increases of 4% (backdated to 1 June (...)

No progress after fourth round of pay negotiations

The GDG and GÖD public sector unions have rejected the employers’ latest offer of a 0.5% pay increase. The unions have written a joint letter to the chancellor (prime minister) vice-chancellor arguing that they should immediately get involved in the negotiations as the current negotiators do not have a full mandate. At the moment the employers are even refusing to offer a rise in line with inflation (0.9%). Read more at > GDG (DE) And at > GÖD (...)

Public sector strike planned for 24 November

Public sector unions have drawn up plans for a national strike on 24 November in protest at government plans for more cuts to public sector pay. The unions have called on the government to quantify and recognize the effect of the pensions levy imposed on public sector workers as well as the freeze on recruitment and pay over the next three years. The Impact union estimates that these measures have saved the government €1.3 billion in 2009 and will mean savings of €2.4 billion in 2010. Unions (...)

Public sector pay negotiations head for third round

The first two rounds of negotiations over the 2010 pay increase for public sector workers did not produce any major developments. In the first round the employers and trade unions heard a report on the economic situation from the WIFO institute and the second round of bargaining broke up with no result. The next round takes place on 19 November. In his public statements state secretary Reinhold Lopatka has spoken repeatedly of minimal increases to pay. In the meantime, the GDG has (...)

Union welcomes report highlighting need for quality social care

Public services union UNISON has endorsed one of the key conclusions of a report on social care from the non-profit organization, the National Care Forum. The report emphasizes the point that quality care depends on the level of resources provided including the pay and conditions of social care workers. UNISON’s response highlighted the continuing problems of low pay and high staff turnover in the sector and the need to improve pay and conditions as well as training provision. Read more at > (...)

EPSU agrees procedure for negotiating transnational agreements

Following detailed discussions in the utilities standing committee over a period of three years, a procedure for negotiating transnational agreements was debated and approved at the EPSU Executive Committee meeting on 9-10 November. Increasingly agreements have been signed with multi-national companies, often by European works councils, but European Federations like EPSU, following the initiative in the European Metalworkers Federation, have been working to establish procedures that give a (...)

Workers agree to new 26-month agreement in disabled care sector

Employees in the disabled care sector will see their salaries increase by 1.5% in December and will receive a lump sum worth 1.25% of their annual salary. This is part of the new collective agreement that runs from 1 January 2009 to 1 March 2011. There will also be a 1% pay increase from 1 July 2010. The year-end bonus is increased by 0.5% this year and by 0.65% next year, taking it to 5.75%. Read more at > Abvakabo (...)

Unions call for real pay increase for 75,000 health and social care workers

Negotiations are underway between the GPA-DJP and vida trade unions and the BAGS employers’ organization over a new agreement covering 75,000 workers in private health and social care services. The unions argue that it is vital to maintain increases in earnings for this group of workers particularly as the majority are women and their aim is to obtain a minimum amount of increase in euros as well as an overall percentage rise. Vida is also in the middle of negotiations covering the 15,000 (...)

Strike action against church employers ends in court

Public services union ver.di has been trying to win pay increases and improved working conditions for its members who work for health and social care institutions run by the church. Ver.di members have taken strike action but the church employers have tried to argue that their workers don’t have the right to strike. The legal dispute is now with the courts in Bielefeld. Ver.di executive committee member Ellen Paschke said that organizations that cut pay and jobs cannot deny the fundamental (...)

Union calls for public-sector wide strike action

Members of the IMPACT public services union have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action in response to the government’s latest proposals for cuts in public sector workers’ pay. The union will call on other public sector unions to join a 24-hour stoppage on 24 November. Six unions have joined together in an alliance of public sector workers delivering frontline services. The general union SIPTU along with unions representing nurses, firefighters, police (Garda) officers and prison (...)

Crucial meeting over collective agreement for ambulance workers

Tuesday 27 October is a key day for the future of the ambulance service with the final negotiating round over the collective agreement to cover the reorganised service. The unions have been talking with employers for some time over the agreement and assurances that workers will not lose out in the reorganisation. They will be mobilising members to demonstrate outside the meeting. There is now a prospect that employers will not sign up to the new agreement as they are unhappy about the (...)

Call for better pay and conditions for childcare workers

The VIDA and GPA-DJP trade unions have called for private childcare providers to be covered by the BAGS health and social service sectoral agreement. At the moment employees are not covered by a collective agreement and the unions argue that they have faced a significant increase in the demands made upon them but there has been no attempt to re-evaluate their jobs and negotiate an appropriate increase in pay levels. The unions also want to see a federal law to regulate conditions and (...)

Union proposes co-ordinated approach to tackle gender pay gap

The Fagforbundet municipal union is calling for public sector unions to co-ordinate their pay claims next year with special negotiations over how to deal with pay inequality. Average pay in the public sector, where 70% of workers are women, is lower than in the private sector where 70% of the workers are men. The specially convened pay commission argued that around 3 billion kronor was needed to close the gender pay gap and Fagforbundet wants to see the unions get together following the (...)

Health employers pull out of pay agreement

Municipal and healthcare union Kommunal is very concerned that some 4,000 personal healthcare assistants won’t get a pay increase next year. This is as a result of the decision by the Vårdföretagarna health employers’ organisation to terminate a pay agreement with the union. Kommunal says it will continue to negotiate on the workers’ behalf to see if an increase can be achieved. It is highly critical of the employers’ organisation and says this is a blow to any further progress towards equal pay. (...)

Unions demonstrate over threatened job cuts

EPSU vice-president and JHL general secretary Tuire Santamäki-Vuori joined demonstrators outside parliament on 8 October in protest at the threat of 110 redundancies at the THL health institute. THL employees staged a walkout to join the demonstration which was also supported by the JUKO and Pardia trade unions. Read more at > YLE news website (EN)

Hospital workers mobilise over pay and conditions

Over 300 health workers took to the streets of Fribourg in a campaign to secure an increase in shift premia for night work. The SSP public service union wants to see hospitals honour the minimum legal requirements of a 10% addition for night work and full compensation for on-call duties but also is claiming a 20% allowance for night work in line with practice in most other cantons (regions). Read more at > SSP (...)

Unions submit main demands in non-profit sector

The unions that organise around 50,000 workers in the non-profit sector in Wallonia and the French community have submitted (CNE- CG- CSC/BI – FGTB/HORVAL- SETCa) have submitted a number of demands to employers covering pay and employment conditions. The unions point out that their members deliver a range of vital health and social services, demand for which is increasing as a result of the current crisis. Among the main demands are harmonisation of pay with health workers at federal level, (...)

National action by elder care workers

Ver.di has organised a national campaign of action by workers in elder care calling for improved financing for the sector with higher pay for employees. The union argues that workers are facing much heavier workloads and they need improved pay and working conditions and financial support for training. Action around the country is making people aware of the pressures that care workers face, the regular overtime, lack of breaks and physically demanding nature of their work. The action is part (...)

Unions mobilise to get action on private health collective agreement

During September the three public service federations are mobilising their members in another push to renegotiate the collective agreement covering the private health sector. The unions will make this a public campaign highlighting the connection between quality services and treating workers with respect – pay and conditions in the sector should have been renegotiated in a new collective agreement four years ago. Unions want the employers to make a public commitment to renegotiate the (...)

Survey reveals inadequate level of supervision in social services

A survey by the VIDA services union of members working in social services found 78% working part time, rising to 98% among home helps. One of the main issues identified by the survey was the poor level of supervision in the sector leading to the fact that employers are not fully aware of the work pressures facing employees. Read more at > VIDA (DE)

Private health workers still waiting for renewal of agreements

The 150,000 workers in the private health sector are still waiting for collective agreements for the years 2006-07 and 2008-09 to be renewed. The FP-CSIL federation has said that this is a priority, particularly now that most of the other major agreements in the public services have been re-negotiated, particularly the public health agreement. Over the summer the FP-CSIL, FP- CGIL and FPS-UIL public service federations have been looking at ways of making progress, for example, by putting (...)

Employers suspend negotiations over ambulance agreement

Unions are disappointed that the employers have suspended negotiations over the new collective agreement covering ambulance workers. With a restructuring of the sector the employers and unions agreed to negotiate a single agreement for the sector to replace a number of different agreements. Unions thought that it would be possible to announce that a new agreement was ready on 1 September but now the employers have raised concerns over two issues – redundancy pay and second careers (this is (...)

Union calls for minimum training standards to be maintained

Public services union UNISON is concerned that minimum requirements for training and health and social care may be removed. The government’s Care Quality Commission is consulting over the minimum standards and the union is worried that employers will cut back on training if they are no longer required to meet these standards. This is particularly likely in the private sector. UNISON says that private companies are continuing looking to cut costs and already have a poorer record in training (...)

Locked-out health workers on the march

Workers at the Lippe mental health hospital in Bad Salzuflen were given support in a solidarity demonstration in the town on 22 August and have taken their case to the regional parliament’s employment committee. Ver.di general secretary Frank Bsirske has also visited the workers who were locked out after going on strike to try to secure a collective agreement at the hospital. Read more at > ver.di (...)

Unions consult in preparation for negotiations

The vida and GPA-djp trade unions are carrying out surveys of works councils before drawing up demands for the next round of negotiations in the private health sector. The BAGS agreement covers 75,000 workers in a range of health and social services and is one of the biggest negotiated by the two unions. The current agreement was negotiated last November and included a 3.6% increase on pay from 1 January. Read more at > vida (...)

Union survey reveals frustration of those working in elderly care

A study by the FOA public services trade union has found that many of its members who work in social and health care for the elderly are frustrated that they don’t have enough time to provide proper care. The report says that around a third of workers go home at the end of the day thinking that they could have done more while only one in six is satisfied with what they have managed to do. There is a feeling that the provision of care is undermined by too much regulation and bureaucracy and (...)

Union condemns staff lock-out by psychiatric hospital

Health and services union ver.di has criticized the action of the Lippe Mental Hospital in Bad Salzuflen over its decision to lock-out qualified staff and take on unqualified agency workers in their place. The workers at the hospital have been on strike to negotiate a collective agreement which has been rejected by the hospital’s owner, Alexander Spernau. Most of the comparable hospitals in the surrounding region pay their employees €250-€400 than those employed by Spernau, who even rejected (...)

EPSU signs agreement on sharps

EPSU and HOSPEEM, the European hospital employers’ association, have signed a European agreement on tackling injuries from sharps (such as needlesticks). This is a major health and safety issue for the sector and the agreement will be presented to the European Council of Ministers to be implemented in the form of a European directive. Read more at > EPSU (EN)

Hospitals agree to put money into training and not in wage competition for workers

Fifteen hospitals in southern Netherlands have come to an agreement over recruitment and training. The hospitals face staff shortages in some areas and have been competing among themselves by offering higher pay and have been using freelancers to fill gaps. Public services union Abvakabo believes that freelancers are often paid 20% more than directly employed staff but have less responsibility. The agreement means that the hospitals will no longer compete with each other through offering (...)

Unions send joint letter to minister over private health agreements

The CGIL FP, CSIL FP and UIL FPL public service federations have written a joint letter to Maurizio Socconi the minister for labour, health and social policy asking him to intervene in the long-running dispute over pay in the private health sector. The last negotiated agreement in the sector expired in December 2005 and it means that the employers have failed to agree a new four-year agreement on employment conditions (2006-2009) as well as the two biennial agreements on pay that should (...)

Union shocked by hospital decision to cut 250 jobs

The VPÖD/SSP public services union has reacted angrily to proposals by the Solothurn hospitals group to cut 250 jobs. The union argues that the hospital made the decision on the basis of hospital statistics that are unreliable and like comparing apples with pears. The union has called on the hospital’s management board to make available the data on which it has based its decision, to undertake full negotiations with the unions and to renounce any job cuts. Read more at > VPÖD/SSP (...)

Apprenticeship initiative backed by unions

Trade unions have welcomed plans by the government to fund new apprenticeships in the public sector. This will include 5,000 apprentice places in the National Health Service. The apprenticeships will include clinical support roles such as dental nurses and pharmacy support workers and non-clinical roles such as IT support, estates and facilities management and catering. UNISON believes this is a particularly important initiative to provide training possibilities for young workers during (...)

Union organises strike against church employers

The ver.di services union is planning for a further stage of strike action against church employers in September. Around 250 ver.di members in several different church institutions in three different regions took strike action back in May. The union says that church bodies that provide health and social care are trying to use their special constitutional status to pay employees below the sector pay norm. In a specific cases five old people’s homes in Hannover have been sold to a religious (...)

Two-year deal for mental health workers

Abvakabo, CNV Publieke Zaak and NU’91 have negotiated a new 24-month collective agreement in a difficult bargaining environment, with the government talking about cuts to the health budget. There will be a 1% pay increase on 1 October 2009 and another 1% on 1 August 2010. The year end bonus payment will be worth 5.25% of salary in 2009 and 5.75% of salary in 2010 while there will also be a 0.65% lump sum payment. New flexible working hours arrangements will be introduced along with improved (...)

Union calls for negotiation over underpaid wages

The GPA-DJP trade union has called on the Red Cross to negotiate over how to pay money owed to around 200 workers. For many years the Red Cross’s blood donation service has made errors in it wage calculations, failing to pay the correct overtime payments and other allowances. It is estimated that the 200 workers are owed around €2 million. The union says that the Red Cross is trying to resolve the issue through individual discussions with workers, giving them a tight deadline to accept offers (...)

Health sector unions want ministerial action on social dialogue

The health federations of the UGT and CCOO trade union organisations have called on health minister Trinidad Jimenez to convene the social dialogue forum for the sector. The unions argue that there are vital human resources issues, including changing demands for different professions, that need to be tackled and that these cannot be adequately resolved without proper consultation with the trade unions. The unions’ call came as the minister announced a meeting of the inter-territorial council (...)

Federation hopes for progress on private health agreement

The FP-CGIL federation hopes that the recent conclusion of the two-year agreement covering public health workers will provide impetus for progress in the private health sector. The previous agreement officially expired at the end of 2005 and so the agreement is now 42 months overdue. The unions have rejected an earlier offer of only a one euro a month increase and proposals to move to regional bargaining. Read more at > FP-C GIL (...)

Unions sign job security agreement for ambulance workers

Unions and employers have a signed an agreement to ensure that ambulance workers jobs are protected when the reorganisation of the service takes effect in 2011. Currently some 40 organisations run ambulance services across the country, employing around 4,800 workers. The reorganisation will mean that ambulance services will be organised across 25 regions and only one operator will get the licence to run services in each region. The next stage in negotiations will be to establish a single (...)

Three federations sign public health agreement

The three public service federations – FP-CGIL, FPS-CSIL and UIL-FPL – have all signed the latest two-year pay agreement covering 600,000 workers in the public health sector. The agreement includes a €72-a-month average increase with the possibility that workers will also get a further €20 on the basis of productivity improvements. The three federations have welcomed the deal as providing a good balance between national and local bargaining and providing the health service with flexibility in (...)

Training deal in care sector

Public services union Abvakabo and Actiz, representing employers in the health and social care sector, have agreed new arrangements to provide training for 5,000 young unemployed workers over the next two years. Health and social care is one of the biggest employers in the Netherlands with around 450,000 workers at the moment but is also a sector that is facing a potential shortage of 13,000 workers by 2012 unless action is taken to increase recruitment. Read more at > Abvakabo (...)

Union launches campaign of warning strikes over agreement for social workers

Ver.di organized nationwide warning strikes on 6 May in support of its claim for a new agreement to protect the health of social workers and childcare workers. The union decided on the action when the employers – the association of local authorities (VKA) – effectively blocked progress by repeatedly putting off negotiations. The union argues that employees are facing much higher demands at work, made more acute by cuts in jobs. The aim is for an agreement that starts to tackle the overwork (...)

Unions warns of potential conflict in health sector

The IMPACT public services union has warned the Health Service Executive (HSE) that it needs to negotiate with the union to resolve conflicts over jobs, pay and pensions if it wants to avoid a major conflict. The union has called on members not to co-operate with any HSE demands to freeze recruitment or cut allowances. It has already backed workers in ballots for industrial action in three hospitals. Read more at > IMPACT (...)

Unions win higher pay for nurses

Qualified nurses employed in the Basel region have been regarded and their new pay rates will be backdated to 1 April 2004. The Basel regional employers finally conceded that there were clear and good reasons for this predominantly female workforce to be moved up the pay scale in recognition of the specialist knowledge required for the job. Read more at > VPOD (DE)

Representativity in the hospital sector

Representativity in the hospital sector The EIRO industrial relations observatory has published its report into the representativity of employer and trade union organisations in the hospital sector. Along with an overview, national reports on social dialogue arrangements in all 27 EU Member States are available on the EIRO website. Read more at > EIRO (EN)

New pay deal at Helios hospital group

Services union ver.di has negotiated a new collective agreement covering 15,000 employees of the Helios group of hospitals. A pay increase of €30 a month plus 3% is backdated to 1 March this year with a further 2.4% paid in March 2009. There is also a €225 lump sum paid this year and from 1 January 2010 pay rates in the East will be 100% of those in the West. The agreement runs until 31 December 2010 and ver.di believe this will bring pay at the company in line with pay in competing (...)

Strike threat secures pay deal for hospital contract workers

Some 60 workers at Durham Hospitals in the North East of England will now be paid in line with National Health Service (NHS) pay rates after their ballot for strike action helped persuade the employer to agree to the new rates. In 2006 health unions negotiated a nationwide deal that was aimed at ensuring that all private contractors working for the NHS would pay their employees in line with NHS rates. However, it has been a challenge to guarantee that this happens at local level. Read more (...)

Union calls for collective agreement to cover church-run social services

Workers in health, social and welfare services run by the churches have been involved in a week of action to get a new collective agreement. Ver.di is calling for a new collective agreement that would bring pay rates in line with the main public sector agreement, after four years during which worker s in the sector have had no pay increase. It argues that the church employers’ association has been hiding behind the special role of the church to maintain poor conditions of employment. The (...)

Negotiations over nursery teachers and social workers’ pay continue

Tuesday 21 April saw nationwide events and demonstrations in support of ver.di’s claim for improved pay for social workers and nursery teachers. The actions coincided with the start of the third round of negotiations to try to get the 220,000 workers moved up the public sector pay scale. The union also wants an agreement on workers’ health in the sector to try to deal with the impact of heavy workloads and stress. According to the union a full-time nursery teacher would only get €2000 a month (...)

New agreement covering hospital doctors

The EIRO industrial relations observatory reports that the OENGE hospital doctors’ union has signed the first collective agreement to cover doctors in public hospitals. The agreement runs for 12 months from 1 January 2009 and will means increases of between €210 and €420 a month depending on seniority. The agreement also sets out new working time rules and coincides with a commitment to recruit 2,000 new doctors to public hospitals. Read more at > EIRO (...)

Union attacks plans for cuts in health jobs

The IMPACT public sector union has attacked the Health Services Executive over plans to cut 14,000 temporary jobs, freeze recruitment for all but the most essential jobs and stop allowances for workers who have taken on extra responsibilities. The union says this will be a further pay cut on top of the pensions levy imposed by the government on all public sector workers. The HSE plans are set out in a circular that the union believes will be sent out shortly. IMPACT is asking members not to (...)

Members to vote on hospital deal after difficult negotiations

After lengthy and difficult negotiations a new two-year agreement in the hospital sector will be put to union members for their approval. The deal includes pay increases of 1% from 1 July 2009 and again from 1 July 2010. A lump sum payment worth 0.3% of salary will be paid on 1 September 2009 while the year-end bonus will rise to 6% in 2009, to 6.73% in 2010 and then 7.33% in 2011. Abvakabo sees this as a small step towards the goal of a 13th month payment. The agreement also included a new (...)

Unions win 3.55% for Red Cross workers

The VIDA and GPA-DJP trade unions have secured a 3.55% pay increase for the 5,000 workers covered by the Red Cross collective agreement. The increase will apply to wages, salaries and additional payments and will be backdated to 1 January 2009 and is in line with other agreements in the health sector. Read more at > VIDA (DE)

Union rejects employers’ offer on re-grading

The ver.di public services union is campaigning for a major re-grading of the mainly women workers employed in various social, welfare and educational occupations. The union argues that these workers’ occupations have not only been undervalued but their responsibilities and the pressure of work have increased considerably in recent years. In the second round of negotiations on 30 March employer proposals for re-grading were rejected as an outrageous provocation by ver.di which has launched a (...)

Unions organise week of action on health and social care

The GPA-DJP and VIDA trade unions have organised a week of action (14-17 April) calling for increased funding of health and social care, including better pay and conditions for workers in the sector, along with creation of more jobs. The unions argue that the 200,000 mainly women workers in the sector do not get enough recognition for the work they do and the stress and strains of their jobs. Read more at > VIDA (DE) And at > GPA-DJP (...)

Ambulance workers demonstrate over threat to jobs

Over 100 ambulance workers in 35 vehicles took part in a demonstration in the Hague over the future of the sector. From 2011 ambulance services will be provided on a regional basis and employers will have to apply for licences to provide services. The four trade unions in the sector are worried about the implications for the collective agreement, employment security and quality of services. The demonstrators handed in a petition to the employers signed by 1200 employees - just over a third (...)

Union gets 3.55% rise for health workers

The VIDA services union has negotiated a 3.55% pay increase for employees at the Josefstadt and Döbling private clinics. VIDA’s federal secretary for the sector, Rudolf Wagner, said that it had been important for the union to secure a pay rise for the 530 workers that was in line with pay awards in the rest of the sector. The main health and social services sectoral agreement was negotiated at the end of 2008 and included a 3.6% pay increase from 1 January 2009. Read more at > VIDA (...)