Services union ver.di coordinated demonstrations across the country on 16 June to coincide with a meeting of health ministers. In the lead up to the general election in September, the union has been determined to show members’ anger over the failure to deliver improved working conditions for health and social care employees. A survey of over 12000 workers commissioned by ver.di revealed that 78% could not imagine staying in their profession until retirement under current conditions. Almost three quarters of respondents reported excessive workloads and understaffing. The union is concerned
Staffing levels, Strike
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 over 40 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.
Workers at the national water company, AdP, took strike action on 11 June over pay and long-standing problems with working conditions. The STAL trade union reported very high levels of support for the action with workers angry that company profits and investments have been increased while the situation for employees has deteriorated. The union is call for a €90 pay increase and minimum wage of €850; new measures on careers and professional development that value and recognize the knowledge, experience and commitment of workers; a progressive reduction of working hours to 35 hours a week
The ADEDY and GSEE public and private sector trade union confederations have continued their campaign to stop major changes to labour legislation. They are concerned that plans to deregulate the labour market will put the eight-hour day at risk and other measures will weaken the labour inspectorate. ADEDY reported high levels of support for its 24-hour strike on 16 June following earlier 24-hour action on 10 June. The GSEE followed up its 24-hour strike on 10 June with a four-hour action on the 16th.
Public sector unions have negotiated a wage settlement with the Virke employers’ organisation that includes private and non-profit companies delivering public services. The deal is in line with the settlement in the government sector, with a 2.7% pay increase but with a flat rate payment of NOK 1,500 (EUR 145) at all salary levels, backdated to 1 May. In addition, there is NOK 4,000 (EUR 390) for the lower paid and an equal pay supplement starting at NOK 3,800 (EUR 370) and falling by NOK 200 (EUR 20) for each move up the salary scale. A further 1.8% is set aside for local negotiations, with
After action earlier in the month across health services, more action has taken place across the public service. On 15 June, there were strikes and mobilisations by workers in national ministries as well as by civil servants in the directorate of interdepartmental roads. In the former the main focus was on pay and the declining purchasing power of civil service salaries while in the latter the main concern was a decentralisation of the directorate to regional government. The union’s concern was about the impact of the decentralisation on staff with no guarantees on jobs and pay. Meanwhile
The GSEE and ADEDY private and public sector trade union confederations organised a 24-hour general strike on 10 June in protest at draft legislation on labour law changes. The confederations are particularly concerned that the new law will allow individual worker contracts that will undermine the eight-hour day and increase overtime. They are also protesting over further attacks on the right to strike and the weakening of the labour inspectorate. EPSU sent a solidarity message. Meanwhile, the OME-EYDAP water trade union has been mobilising to resist job cuts and other threats to pay and
The UNIO trade union confederation whose members cover workers with higher education has been pushing for higher pay deals in three negotiations – national local government, Oslo municipality and public companies represented by the employers’ organisation, Spekter. The NSF nurses’ union is one of UNIO’s members involved in the strikes and negotiations and they are calling for higher pay for nurses to tackle major staff shortages. The government has stepped in to end strikes in local government and the Oslo municipality on the grounds, rejected by the trade unions, that the actions pose a
A successful legal case backed by the UNISON public services union means that employers will no longer be able to mistreat workers who take part in union-organised workplace disputes. UK law had previously prevented employers from sacking staff, but not from disciplining or making life difficult for them. The employment appeal tribunal (EAT) case was taken by care worker Fiona Mercer against the Alternative Futures Group. She had been involved in a long-running dispute and was disciplined, suspended, and prevented from going into work by her employer. The EAT said that UK law was not compliant
Several unions representing workers in early years education came together on 5 May in a day of strike action and a demonstration in Brussels. Workers are angry about the impact of the pandemic on the sector and the failure of the authorities in the Wallonia and Brussels regions to address their concerns. The unions were also demanding a revaluation of pay in the sector and a range of other measures to deal with staffing issues, leave, contracts and increased public funding.
The four trade unions representing health and social care workers in the public and private sectors – younion, GÖD, vida and GPA-djp – have written an open letter to national and regional governments calling for urgent action on training. The unions say that an additional 75000 trained workers will be need in the sectors by 2030 and that measures need to be taken to increase the number of trainees to help meet the demand. Unlike other professions, health and care trainees are not paid when they are working on the job during their training. The unions argue that this is a major disincentive to
The STAL local government union has called for a national strike on 20 May to support a range of key demands on pay and employment conditions. The union says that local administration workers have not had a decent salary increase for over 10 years, on average seeing an almost 10% loss of purchasing power since 2010. The union is calling for a €90 for all workers and action on career development. It also wants to see the end of the SIADAP performance evaluation system that has led to stagnating salaries for more than 75% of workers. STAL underlines the essential link in providing decent pay and
The younion and GÖD public sector unions, representing around 120000 workers in health and social care have called on the Austrian Chancellor to stand by his commitment to improve pay for those working in intensive care during the pandemic. The two unions underline that their demand covers all health and care workers, not just intensive care staff, as they are all part of an essential team and need to work together to deliver care and who have endured significant physical and mental challenges in maintaining services. Younion and GÖD are calling for a tax-free €1000 bonus for all health and
Members of the PCS civil service union at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) in Swansea, South Wales, have agreed to take another four days of strike action from 4-7 May. This follows the four-day action on 6-9 April that the union says was strongly supported. PCS is concerned that DVLA management have failed to take action to address safety concerns following very high levels of COVID-19 infections at the site where 4000 workers are employed. The union has also argued about the level of continuing risk involved from allowing 2000 workers to carry on working at the site.
Public service union, younion has joined with private service unions GPA and vida as well as the ÖGB trade union confederation and Chamber of Labour to call on the government to take urgent steps to increase training in the childcare and after-school care sector. The unions point out that inadequate staffing levels were apparent before the pandemic but have become more acute and overburdened staff need the reassurance that newly trained staff will soon be recruited. They underline the fact that many workers in the sector are thinking about leaving and that a wave of retirements is also
Over 1400 workers, members of the PCS civil service union, took strike action from 6-9 April in protest at the failure to address safety issues at the Driver Vehicle and Licensing Agency (DVLA) in Swansea in South Wales. Over 600 DVLA employees have tested positive for COVID since last September with no effective response from management or the Department of Transport (DoT). Following the strike the union has called for immediate talks to resume with the DoT and will be discussing next steps with members.