UNI Europa affiliated trade unions participating in the UNI Care Statutory Meeting discussed organizing in nursing homes as well as homecare workers.
Delegates heard from organizing campaigns in Poland and Czechia. These organizing drives in nursing homes have been supported by COZZ and UNI Care since 2016 and have grown from strength to strength. In the homecare sector, unions have been developing activities to strengthen collective bargaining in myriad ways.
Ania Bacia, OPZZ-KP (PL), recounted how UNI Care affiliates came to her support when she was fired for union activities and how she now leads the union in collective negotiations for better pay and conditions.
Ania Bacia, OPZZ-KP: ‘Without UNI Care and COZZ’s support, care workers in private nursing homes would have no one to turn to. Our union is ensuring that we can improve our livelihoods, and this is only the beginning. All care workers deserve to live and work in dignity.’
Tereza Taborska, UZO – Alice (CZ), showed the different collective actions workers had taken and how their union has become a change maker in the Czech care sector, spanning various for-profit and non-profit services providers.
Tereza Taborska, UZO – ALICE: ‘The lesson from Czechia is that if you organize, you can win. And winning gives more workers confidence to join the union. This way we will stop the race-to-the-bottom.’
Discussing the difficulties of accessing workers in persons’ households, the Croatian UNI affiliate RITU representing personal assistants, underlined the importance of using online tools to reach a disparate workforce. Emanuela Loretone from Filcams-CGIL underlined the importance of using collective agreements and lobbying public authorities so that these collective agreements are enforced.
Meanwhile, Paul Micallef from the General Workers Union in Malta said: ‘Ideally, union representatives should be from every migrant group. When the opportunity arises we meet with them. Our collective agreements in this sector should feature certain specialized clauses in collective agreement related to particular situations related to foreign workers.’
A motion presented by the Maltese General Workers Union calling for sectoral observatories in countries where collective bargaining and social dialogue structures remain weak was also unanimously endorsed by delegates.
UNI Care will continue to advance the Sectoral Social Dialogue in Personal and Household Services alongside its sister union EFFAT, and social partners EFFE and EFSI. This will include coordinating training sessions on organizing homecare workers.
UNI Care will also continue to work with COZZ, EPOC as well as the new organizing centre SEEOC based in Romania to organize care workers.