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After six months of bargaining, ALICE union representatives at Alzheimercentrum Jihlava have signed their first collective agreement on 6 April 2022 that will improve working conditions for employees at one of the largest private providers of social services for the elderly in Czechia.

“We managed to negotiate a wage increase of CZK 1 500 (US$66) or 7.5 per cent. All my colleagues certainly deserve the pay rise after the difficult months of work during the pandemic,” said Dana Búriková, vice-chairwoman of ALICE, who works as a caregiver at the Jihlava home for the elderly. “We also negotiated a higher supplement and a meal allowance for night shifts, which are particularly demanding.

In addition to financial bonuses, the new collective agreement will also bring more frequent breaks for the nursing home employees. “After working a twelve-hour shift with a mask on, we are on our knees. That’s why we need to rest regularly,” added Búriková.

ALICE union has been supported by UNI Global Union’s European organizing centre, COZZ, since June 2020. UNI Europa Regional Secretary, Oliver Roethig, said:

“Congratulations to the workers and their ALICE union. This shows yet again that when workers get together to find collective solutions, anything is possible. This result is also a testament to the organizing work carried out by COZZ. We are proud to support that work through our global Essential Workers campaign to lift up key workers beyond the pandemic.”

Nurse Dana Dvorská said, “We are very happy that the negotiations were calm and without unnecessary conflicts and that the employer acknowledged the legitimate demands of our employees. We hope that the social dialogue will continue in a similar spirit in the future.”

The collective agreement between ALICE and the Jihlava nursing home runs until the end of 2023 benefitting around 70 workers. Alzheimercentrum has promised to extend the terms agreed with the union to about 900 other employees at the other twelve homes it operates.

“The private nursing home sector is developing rapidly and employs thousands of mostly women who do very demanding and commendable work. Our union provides them with the backing and support to advocate for their rights and interests. The bargaining at Alzheimercentrum showed that it makes sense to organize a union,” said ALICE chairwoman, Nikol Hladíková.

ALICE, which is affiliated to UZO, the trades, logistics and services union, has been active in the Jihlava nursing home since May 2021. UZO president Renáta Burianová commented:

“This collective agreement guarantees decent working and wage conditions for employees for the entire period of its duration. We are very pleased that the ALICE union is a member of UZO.”

The network of thirteen Alzheimercentrum facilities with 1,500 beds is owned by Unicapital Healthcare, which belongs to Czech billionaire Pavel Hubáček. During 2022, the company will be gradually taken over by the investment group Penta, together with former politician Boris Št’astný, who runs the Alzheimer Home chain of nursing homes.