EPSU Collective Bargaining Newsletter

Friday, May 30, 2014

EPSU's newsletter covering collective bargaining developments in public services in Europe is out. It is the only newsletter that systematically reports on recent agreements, conflicts, studies and legal cases involving public service unions. 

Confederations set out pay demands

The three trade union confederations - NSZZ Solidarity, OPZZ and FZZ - have called for a 7% increase in the minimum wage, higher than the 3% on offer from the government. The unions argue that with economic growth it is a good time to move towards the long-term target of a minimum wage equivalent to 50% of the average wage. The unions have also called for a general wage increase of 5.6%, with a higher increase of 9% for workers in the budget (public sector). Read more at > Warsaw Voice news website (EN)

Union debates pay strategy

At this year’s conference public service union Impact discussed various elements of a new pay strategy in both public and private sectors. In the public sector a combination of increased pensions contributions and pay cuts has meant on average a 14% fall in pay. The union will be looking to start clawing this back with a pay claim that it will submit when public finances are back on track. A key debate will be whether this claim will be for a flat-rate increase to help the lower paid. Read more at > IMPACT

Unions take joint action Veolia

The four trade unions - CFDT, CGT, CFE-CGC et FO - have taken joint action in protest at major restructuring plans put forward by the Veolia energy and water multinational. The unions highlight the fact that the company has seen profits increase and has maintained its dividends to shareholders while planning job cuts and relocations that could effect over 2000 employees. Read joint union statement at > CGT (FR) And EPSU message of support at > EPSU (EN/FR)

EPSU supports energy unions 

Letter to Minister of Economy
EPSU has written to the Minister of the Economy to complain about the government’s interference in social dialogue and collective bargaining at the HEP electricity company HEP. The letter points out that the intervention has made it difficult for the unions and management of the company to reach agreement on a collective agreement for the first time in 18 years. EPSU also calls on the government to promote the social dialogue and collective bargaining as was also agreed in the Memorandum of Understanding on the Social Aspects of the Energy Community. Read the letter here.


Campaign calls for no exceptions to minimum wage

Services union ver.di is part of a broad group of organisations calling for the minimum wage to be implemented without any exceptions or different rates. Along with trade unions, organisations representing youth, women, environmental groups and churches are arguing for the €8.50 an hour to apply to all workers. They are particularly concerned that those in a vulnerable position in the labour market - young workers and the long-term unemployed - should not face lower minimum rates. Read more at > ver.di (DE)

Public sector unions ready to negotiate

The four public sector federations - Fp-Cgil, Cisl-Fp, Uil-Fpl e Uil-Pa - say they are ready to negotiate reform in the public services on the basis that the freeze on collective bargaining will be lifted. The prime minister has listed 44 proposals for reform and the four unions have set up a special website to respond to each reform and included their own "45th" proposal to renew collective agreements. The unions say that they are ready to discuss key issues such as increasing tax revenues, improving services and cutting waste and opening up public sector employment again, particularly to recruit young workers. Read more at > Fp-Cgil (IT) And the joint response to the 44 proposals 


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 ready to mobilise their members if they are not offered solutions that will protect Red Cross employees and the communities they servce. Read more at > Fp-Cgil (IT)

Union condemns additional work for tax employees

The FSP-UGT federation has attacked the Finance Ministry for using tax agency staff to work additionally for the regional economic administrative courts. The union points out that public sector workers have seen their purchasing power fall by around 30% as a result of pay cuts and freezes. Jobs have also been cut and further pressure on staff created by non-replacement of retired workers. And now, rather than offering new jobs and help reduce the 25% unemployment rate, the Ministry of Finance is getting existing tax workers to fill the gap by taking on additional work. The FSP-UGT sees this as an important area of work to ensure taxes are collected and so it needs the proper level of staffing to do it. Read more at > FSP-UGT (ES)

New government aims for public sector cuts

Following his party’s victory in the general election in April, new prime minister Aleksander Vucic has made the public sector one of the first targets of reform. He plans cuts in public sector employment and a 10% pay cut for the workers who are left. Unions are calling for other cuts rather than pay cuts as many workers already struggle to make ends meet. Read more at > SE Times news website (EN)

Union criticises IMF report

The FSC-CCOO federation has criticised the latest International Monetary Fund report on Spain for failing to recognise the deep economic problems that the country faces. The union argues that the recovery cannot be built on wage devaluation and boosting exports and that a boost to domestic demand through higher wages is vital to improve economic prospects. The federation also argues that so far labour reforms have only created more precarious work and that few new jobs are being created while cutbacks in public services are continuing to impact on employment. Read more at > FSC-CCOO (ES)

Union wins key European Court case on holiday pay

Public services union UNISON has supported one of its members in a successful European Court case on holiday pay. The judgement means that holiday pay should not just be based on basic pay but should also take into account other payments such as commission and bonuses. The case involved an energy sales consultant employed by British Gas whose holiday pay was up to 50% lower than his normal pay because no account was taken of his commission. Read more at > UNISON

Unions continue to sign local deals on working time

The STAL local government union has signed another agreement with a local authority this time with the Gois municipality in the the Coimbra district in central Portugal. The union is running a national campaign to defend the 35-hour week after the government announced that working time in the public sector should be increased from 35 to 40 hours a week. STAL has been successfully negotiating agreements with local authorities across the country to retain the 35-hour week. The SINTAP union has also been negotiating 35-hour agreements and is calling for the government to acknowledge that the 35-hour week should be retained across the whole of local and regional government. Read more at > STAL (PT) And at > SINTAP (PT)

Unions consult over deadlock in provincial government

The FNV Abvakabo and CNV Publieke Zaak are organsing consultations with members around the country to discuss what initiatives to take to unblock negotiations over a new collective agreement covering provincial government. The employers have not offered any pay increase and there has been no progress in negotations for two years. The consultative meetings have been called for the first half of June and unions are calling for non-members to attend as well. Read more at > FNV Abvakabo (NL) And at > CNV Publieke Zaak (NL)

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 redundancy scheme. The next round of bargaining is on 11 June. Read common press release at > FNV Abvakabo (NL) And further information at > CNV Publieke Zaak (NL) And further information at > NU’91 (NL)

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 (FR)

Federations meet with minister to discuss pay and jobs

Following the day of action on 15 May, seven public service federations - CGT, CFDT, Unsa, FSU, Solidaires, CFTC and FAFPT - met with public service minister Marylise Lebranchu. The unions expressed their concern about the loss of jobs and the impact on public services. They also called for action on increasingly precarious employment and the urgent need to tackle the loss of purchasing power by increasing the index on which public sector salaries are based. The minister made no commitment on ending the pay freeze but did indicate that a meeting on pay could take place by the middle of June. Read more at > CGT (FR)