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ISSUE 64 page 2

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Euro-unions and parliament call for restructuring law

 FOLLOWIING THE FAILURE OF THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION to take action on a call for new laws on company restructuring by the European Parliament,  the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has referred a complaint to the EU Ombudsman for the first time. Fifteen years after  the report ‘Managing Change’ recommended a legal instrument be established the patience of the unions has snapped. Originally it was hoped that this would come about as part of the social dialogue process but the employers’ side at EU-level, then known as UNICE, would only agree to ‘orientations for reference’ which were regarded as too weak by the ETUC. Since this 2003 document the pace of change has quickened enormously following the economic crash in 2008 with two jobs being lost for every one created. Many of these business decisions have been badly handled with some workers, for example, being told by text of their redundancy. In January 2012 the  Commission produced a Green Paper for comment  which was regarded by the unions as a watering-down due to employer pressure. In their response the ETUC
Cercas, A.Ségol
stressed the rôles of education and training, a job-creating industrial policy, information and consultation, collective bargaining and a social safety net in any restructuring programme. However in January the European Parliament, emboldened by new powers contained in the Lisbon Treaty, voted overwhelmingly (503-107) to adopt a report by Alejandro Cercas calling on the Commission to put forward a new law. Under the treaty they had three months to present a legal instrument to both the parliament and the Council of Ministers. When this period passed without incident the Commissioners promised only a Communication setting out best practices to be published in the Autumn.  The ETUC felt that it had no alternative but to formally complain to the ombudsman on the grounds of violation of the treaty and maladminstration. ‘We are calling for the Commission to respect the Treaty and propose a legal instrument as demanded by the EP, to respect democracy at European level and ensure a framework of rights’ stated Bernadette Ségol, ETUC General Secretary.

Alejandro Cercas MEP and Bernadette Ségol, General Secretary ETUC



Bargaining round-up

THE HAVA-IS UNION IN TURKEY HAS RECEIVED A BOOST in its long-running dispute with Turkish Airlines. A court has prevented the company from recruiting about 700 workers from India to replace union members who have been taking industrial action since May 15. ‘The court decision confirmed our argument that the employer is a strikebreaker,’ said Hava-Is chair Attila Aycin, he continued ‘We have communicated the court’s decision with top management and are now expecting the company to terminate job contracts of those hired people’. The union has asked for a 12% pay increase and a decrease in flying hours as well as the reinstatement of 305 employees previously dismissed for protesting against a law depriving them of the right to strike. According to Mr.Aycin cabin crew are in the air for at least 115 hours a month compared to the international standard of 80 hours.
THE RAMIFICATIONS OF THE FINANCIAL CRASH IN CYPRUS are still being felt in the world of work on that island. Recently trade unions in both the banking and hotel sectors have accepted pay cuts and worsened conditions in return for promises on redundancies and pensions. Bank employees face salary reductions of between 5% and 30% with the option of taking a voluntary redundancy package partly financed by the ETYK union. In hotels pay will be frozen until the end of 2015 and other benefits reduced, the quid pro quo will be effective monitoring of implementation of the deal to allay union fears that temporary and migrant workers are left out by employers. The state of pensions could be a sticking point for these deals; the company-based provident funds are the equivalent of private pension plans but employers will be required to pay less into them in the future and they are also subject to the ‘haircut’ reduction in bank deposits enforced by the famous ‘troika’ of the IMF, European Central Bank and European Commission.
IN MANY COUNTRIES OF THE EU, UNLIKE THE U.K., police officers are legally entitled to join an accredited trade union. In Slovenia, police members of two different unions have recently been on strike seeking pledges from the government which would guarantee budgets and prevent redundancies. The PSS union had been holding a work-to-rule since January, and following a settlement with their rivals SPS in May, secured assurances that there would be no job losses until the end of 2016 as well as a total of €2.4 million for overtime payments up to the end of next year. The government will also present improvements to the public sector pay system in October, taking into accout the ratio of police pay to average pay in other Member States.

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