Trade unions in the energy sector are planning strike action on Thursday 2 June over the erosion of purchasing power of their members. In a joint statement, they criticise the employers in the sector for failing to agree a timetable to negotiate and for applying an increase of only 0.3% on the basic national salary in January this year when inflation was already at 4.5%. The unions also highlight the fact that energy sector pay has not kept pace with inflation over many years and they are demanding an immediate increase of 4.5%.
Strikes and industrial action
The right to strike is fundamental for trade unions. Although strikes and industrial action are the weapons of last resort, it is crucial that trade unions can use them in the fight to defend workers' rights and get a fair deal from employers. The challenge for many unions, particularly those in the public sector, is that the right to strike is restricted or even completely denied. Information on the right to strike in the public sector is available in 48 country factsheets that cover the main rules and include information on cases that trade unions have taken to the International Labour Organisation and Council of Europe.
The Super and Tehy health unions are maintaining their ban on overtime and shift changes following their rejection of the proposed deal for health and local government. They continue to press for higher pay increases as essential to help tackle the urgent staff shortages in health and social care. Meanwhile, municipal unions JHL and Jyty are also keeping up their industrial action despite their provisional approval of the agreement. They are pushing for the agreement to be finalised and for the expected payments to be made by the summer, arguing that workers could lose out by over €300 if pay
In a long-running and bitter dispute over pay in Coventry, the Unite trade union has just discovered that the local authority has agreed a 12% pay increase for the workers in the private company that is being used to try to break the strike. Meanwhile, Unite members at Rugby Borough Council began strike action on 26 April to get the local authority back to the negotiating table. In Croydon, South London, Unite members employed by Veolia are being balloted for industrial action following the rejection of a 2.5% pay offer. Members of Unite and the GMB, in Manchester called off their action when
EPSU and industriAll Europe have sent a joint letter to the management of the AB Achema factory in Lithuania protesting at its anti-union activity and failure to resolve a dispute over pay and collective bargaining.
The Tehy and SuPer nurses’ unions have confirmed the dates for the second period of industrial action following the first set of strikes launched on 1 April. The next stage will begin on 20 April and end on 4 May and will affect specialised medical care in 13 hospital districts, with approximately 35,000 nurses on strike. The postponement is to allow the Conciliation Committee sufficient time for mediation. The severe shortage of nurses in areas like elderly care means that this sector will be excluded from the strike as the unions point out that the staffing levels regulated by law are often
The Kommunal and Vision public service unions are involved in mediation over a dispute with the Swedish church. The unions are concerned that the church has failed to negotiate a transition agreement in line with many other employers, following recent legislative changes. Instead the church appears to want to reduce employment conditions as a way to compensate for delivering the new transition agreement. Kommunal has announced that it will initiate a dispute on 22 April if there is no agreement, starting with industrial action and building to potential strike action on 27 April.
Around 25,000 members of the TEHY and SuPer nurses’ unions were due to start strike action on 1 April following rejection of a pay offer delivered by mediation. The action is initially targeted at six hospital districts and workers not on strike will join a ban on overtime and shift changes. Further strike action may follow later in April if a better offer is not on the table. The two unions join local government unions, JHL and Jyty, which have already taken two-day strike action in two different municipalities with further action planned in another six – two from 6 April and four from 19
The Tehy and SuPer trade unions representing nurses and other medical staff have set out plans for strike action to give impetus to the negotiations in health and social services. The two unions want to see positive action on salaries and have set out a five-year rescue programme for the health and social services sector. This includes increases to the basic wage level of 3.6% annually in addition to the normal contract increases that protect purchasing power. With women making up 90% of the care workforce, the unions argue that this is an essential measure to address the persistent gender pay
With inflation hitting a 21-year high of 5.6%, Kevin Callinan, head of the Fórsa public service union, has called for the current “Building momentum” public sector agreement to be reviewed. Under the agreement public service pay will increase by just 1.2% this year. The agreement has an opening clause and Callinan argues that both the high level of inflation and more positive situation for the public finances justify the review. Meanwhile, members of the Medical Laboratory Scientists’ Association (part of the SIPTU trade union) will take strike action on 30 March unless the Department of
With municipal employers failing to come up with a decent pay offer, local government unions have planned a series of targeted actions in addition to the ban on overtime and shift changes that ran from 7 to 13 March and will be repeated from 21 to 27 March. Six municipalities have been designated for the two-day stoppages beginning with Jyväskylä and Rovaniemi from 23 to 24 March, then Tampere and Kuopio from 29 to 30 March, followed by Oulu and Turku on 6-7 April. In total the actions cover around 50,000 workers and the unions want to underline the importance of protecting workers’ purchasing
On 22 March trade unions, including FSS-CCOO and FeSP-UGT, will begin a joint campaign of mobilization of staff at the Labour and Social Security Inspectorate. It aims to put pressure on the government to abide by a collective agreement that was signed last year. The unions want action to address staff and material shortages that are having a major impact on service delivery. It argues that that the government needs to recognise the efforts made by staff in recent years to maintain the service and the fact that many workers are facing burnout. Demonstrations are planned across the country on
The LVSADA health workers’ union was planning to take strike action to put pressure on the government to deliver pay increases that were promised last year. The union had called for a 10% pay rise for health staff from the beginning of January this year but the Ministry of Health has failed to deliver. LVSADA argues that an increase is vital if health sector wages are to keep pace with rapidly rising inflation and average earnings. The union underlines how important protecting purchasing power is as part of the strategy to tackle the major staff shortages across the sector.
Members of the SUEPO trade union at the European Patent Office (EPO) have voted for industrial action, including a “work to rule”, “go slow” and a strike on 22 March. The union is calling for the restoration of fundamental rights at the EPO and the suspension or reversal of major reforms that have been detrimental to working conditions and wellbeing of staff. There have been longstanding problems with asserting trade union rights at the EPO with a former director intervening in the trade union’s internal affairs and blocking the right to strike. The International Labour Organisation has ruled
The ADEDY civil service trade union confederation has called a national strike on 6 April over pay, jobs and public sector funding. It argues that with inflation at a 25-year high of 7% public sector salaries need to be increased immediately. There has been no increase since 2009 when salaries for many public sector workers were cut by 40%. ADEDY is also calling for reinstatement of 13th and 14th month salary payments and an increase in, and extension to the special allowance for arduous and dangerous work. The confederation’s other demands include urgent action to recruit permanent staff to