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Achmea: collective bargaining is difficult

We discussed the collective labor agreement again on 12 December 2019. Unfortunately, we are not there yet. There are really complicated issues on the table and the financial scope that the employer can or wants to offer is tight.

Last chance for a collective labor agreement this year

We will continue to talk on Thursday 19 December 2019. This seems to be the last possibility to reach an agreement this year. The complicated issues concern salary, pension and the 34-hour working week. For the sake of clarity, we are talking about a 34-hour working week because this will be the new standard for Achmea. In implementation, Achmea wants to choose to reduce the contract size by 36 hours for all employees who now have a contract of 38, 40 or 1 hours, as of 1-2021-2 (while retaining their salary).

Pension / salary

Interest rates have fallen sharply this summer and have not yet fully recovered. As a result, pension becomes considerably more expensive and, as far as Achmea is concerned, this is paid from the wage margin. Little money is left for a salary increase.

Own management of employees

The 34-hour working week is the most time consuming topic from day one of the negotiations. De Unie has always set the condition that control over the (adjustment of the agreed) working hours ultimately belongs to the employee. We must now conclude that the employer is not willing to fulfill this condition. Ultimately, Achmea wants to be in control of the number of working hours.

Concerns for members De Unie

The 34-hour working week is a complicated discussion because it does not work out equally for all employees.

Employees who are rostered can actually start working fewer hours in a new roster. We hear two points of concern from this group:

  • Income comes to a standstill if you work less, while the cost of living does increase;
  • The workload is already high, only if FTEs are added people can actually work less.

    Employees who have a 'function contract' must have their work completed, regardless of the time required for this. We hear three points of concern from this group:

  • The actual average working week is now at least 40 hours. Submitting contractual hours means that you have to do more of the work in your own time;
  • Income comes to a standstill if you work less, while the cost of living increases;
  • The workload is already high, only if FTEs are added, people can actually work less.

Position of De Unie

De Unie has consistently stated from October 30, 2019, the first collective labor agreement consultation, that when introducing a shorter working week, we set the condition that the employee himself has control over the adjustment of his (contractually agreed) average working week. We do not think this is a matter that you can collectively arrange in the collective labor agreement because the employees have different interests and circumstances. And the application of Achmea Select is not the same everywhere.

Solution

You can look for collective solutions for the work pressure issues, which members rightly mention. You can partly agree on collective guarantees for the financial problems that employees fear. But this is not the case for the problems of employees with a 'function contract'. This concerns, for example, staff employees, managers, IT employees, insurance-technical specialist positions such as acceptors and claims handlers or individualistic positions such as marketers, risk experts, experts and field staff.

For them, a better negotiating position is necessary if Achmea wants to switch to a shorter working week.

Negotiations

For De Unie the employee's own direction is an important condition for agreeing to the 34-hour working week. All employees benefit from this. In this policy we are supported by the members. With this state of affairs, it will be difficult to reach agreement with your employer on a new collective labor agreement on 19 December 2019.

Next consultation

The next meeting is December 19, 2019 at the end of the afternoon.

Contact

Are there any questions about this newsletter or is there information to handle De Unie to share? Please contact me, advocate Inge de Vries, by e-mail: inge.de.vries@unie.nl. Because after a newsletter from De Unie always a lot of questions are asked, I make time for a telephone consultation hour.

On Wednesday December 18, 2019 from 14.00 p.m. to 18.00 p.m. I am available for members of Achmea who have questions about the collective labor agreement negotiations. My phone number is 06-5252 2091.