With support from UNI Global Union, care home workers in Czechia have signed the first ever company-wide collective agreement with Alzheimer Home, the country’s largest for-profit nursing home provider.
Trade union, ALICE, which represents social services workers as part of UNI’s Czech affiliate, UZO, signed the two-year collective bargaining agreement with the company in Prague on 21 March.
The agreement is arguably the strongest that’s ever been established for private sector care workers in Czechia and applies to the company’s nearly 1,500 employees in 32 care homes across the country.
As well as offering a significant pay rise averaging 6 – 8 per cent, which brings the biggest pay increases to the lowest paid, it also gives workers a strong voice in health and safety policy and allows the union to engage with workers without interference in nursing homes that are not already organized.
ALICE President, Dana Búriková, who is also a worker at Alzheimer Home Jihlava, said:
“This is a ground-breaking collective agreement in the private care sector in Czechia. We consider the result a success. It wouldn’t have been possible without the courage and joint efforts of hundreds of caregivers, nurses, laundresses, receptionists, and other staff.”
Hundreds of workers joined the campaign to achieve the collective agreement, which included mobilizations and a petition. The campaign also received wide support from the public.
“The negotiation was complex, but fair. Although it started at a time when our facilities were hit hard by the consequences of the sharp rise in energy prices and other inputs, we nevertheless managed to reach a mutual agreement together,” said Alice Švehlová, Human Resources Director of the Penta Hospitals group, which owns Alzheimer Home. “We would like to thank everyone who took part in the negotiations for a very constructive approach.”
This union victory comes on the heels of a rapid organizing campaign supported by UNI Global Union’s Central European organizing centre, COZZ. Less than a year ago, in April 2022, ALICE signed its first collective agreement, which was made at a care home at Alzheimer Home. In October, the union’s organizing efforts led to workers at four more Alzheimer Home facilities joining the union, and this has since grown to ten.
While the new CBA will benefit all workers, it also leaves the door open to organize more workers at the remaining 20 or so Alzheimer Homes in the future.
UNI General Secretary, Christy Hoffman, said:
“We are proud to stand with ALICE and the workers at Alzheimer Home whose determination and commitment to organizing, campaigning and standing up for better conditions and pay has been remarkable, and is an inspiration to private care home workers across Czechia. It’s great to see UNI’s support for organizing efforts in the region are paying off and making a real difference to workers’ lives.”