Public service unions joined the national protest on 27 November calling for action to defend and improve sickness absence rules. Under the slogan "sick workers are not criminals" the Podkrepa confederation called for workers to be covered by sick pay from the first day of absence and for a range of other measures on sick leave and working time. Meanwhile on the same day social workers from the administrative services union in Podkrepa took an hour's strike action calling for a 40% pay increase.
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.
The ETUI has published data on strike activity across Europe, including an interactive strike map that provides details on total number of days not worked per 1000 workers. Information on each country also includes the frequency of strikes and total number of workers involved. Detailed information on the right to strike was published earlier this year by EPSU in country factsheets that were coordinated for EPSU by the ETUI.
Health and social care unions were again joined by hospital campaigning groups in a major national mobilisation on 17 December, following earlier days of strikes and protests in October and November (see EPSU CB News No.22, November and No.19, October). The campaign is highlighting the catastrophic situation in many health institutions as a result of underfunding. The key demands include increased funding and recruitment, a general increase in salaries and an immediate block on closures of health facilities. The protests combined with the continuing mobilisation against planned pension reforms
Workers at the Ameos private, for-profit health company in the Saxony-Anhalt region are taking strike action despite the aggressive intimidation of the company's management. The union wants to negotiate a collective agreement which links workers' pay and conditions to the public sector agreement. Not only have management refused to negotiate but they sacked 14 trade union activists before Christmas and are threatening a further 800 job cuts if the union contnues its campaign. EPSU joined with ver.di in launching a labourstart campaign, targeting the company management.
Strike action, a major demonstration, political support and international solidarity have combined to bring the Ameos health company to the negotiating table. Members of the ver.di services union have been on strike to get a collective agreement and the reinstatement of 14 colleagues who were sacked at the end of last year by the management of Ameos in the Saxony-Anhalt region. International solidarity was channelled through a labourstart campaign with over 6300 signatures calling on the company to negotiate. The strike action has now been suspended to allow time for negotiations which were
The vida and GPA-djp private service unions will be coordinating further warning strikes on 26 and 27 February to put pressure on the employers in the negotiations covering 125000 workers in private health and social care. This follows the sixth round of bargaining which ended again without a concrete proposal from the employers. The unions are determined to press on with their central demand of a 35-hour week while maintaining pay and with an appropriate increase in staffing.
Thirteen trade union organisations and health campaigning groups came together on 14 February to strike and join demonstrations calling for urgent action on the funding and provision of health and social services. This follows the previous national action on 17 December (EPSU CB News 24, December 2019). The key demands are for an increase in funding, action on recruitment and training, recognition of the arduousness of work in the sector, a stop on closures of facilities, opening up governance of hospitals to workers and patients and ensuring equal access to quality services.
The FSC-CCOO and FeSP-UGT have taken the government to task over the failure to implement a series of agreements. Around 200 FSC-CCOO activists protested outside the public services directorate on 9 July over employment, equality and, pay and other issues. The union wants action over jobs to make up some of the 43,000 that have been cut over the past 10 years. They also highlight the failure to properly implement equality plans and are calling for last year's agreement on pay to be put into effect to partially compensate for the 14% fall in purchasing power since austerity measures were in
EPSU has just published new factsheets on the right to strike in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia taking the total number of countries covered in this series to 41. This follows the addition of factsheets on Moldova, Russia and Ukraine earlier this year. Each factsheet sets out the main legal provisions and highlights any recent cases taken to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and/or the European Social Committee (ESC) of the Council of Europe. Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia have all been the subject of ILO and ESC cases. The ESC has ruled that all three are not in conformity with
Seven trade union organisations, including the CGT, CFDT, FO and UNSA, representing 85% of all firefighters have been taking strike action to demand improvements in pay and for a significant increase in jobs. The joint actions began in June and are running until the end of August. The unions want to see the withdrawal of legislation on public service reform and a number of other measures to improve pay, health and safety, pensions and trade union rights. A key demand is an increase in recruitment on statutory conditions. There are 40000 professional firefighters. This is the same number as in
The GPA-djp private services union has strongly attacked the VKKJ organisation that provides care to disabled children for using an injunction to try to prevent its works councils from organising any kind of strike or protest to secure improvements in pay and conditions. The VKKJ has not signed up to the social services sector agreement and the works councils had successfully campaigned to bring pay at the organisation in line with that agreement but that's when VKKJ took the legal step. The union has offered to go to mediation but the employer has rejected this. The GPA-djp will strongly
EPSU, Europe’s voice of 8 million pubic service unions is supporting the many actions to demand urgent actions of the UN Summit 23 September, from our governments and the European Commission and European Council.
Over 200 staff at the Schildautal hospital in Seesen in Lower Saxony took strike action on 4 October in defiance of threats from management that they would be dismissed. The hospital is owned by Asklepios, the second biggest private hospital group in Germany. The health union ver.di wants to negotiate a collective agreement that would bring pay in line with the public sector. However, the company not only refuses to negotiate but has threatened strikers with the sack and promised bonuses to strike breakers. The recent ver.di congress sent a message of solidarity to workers at the hospital.
Trade unions in the health sector are set to take joint strike action on 24 October unless there are positive developments in the sector negotiations that resume on 14 October. Some demonstrations have already taken place but the unions are concerned about the lack of progress on substantial questions such as funding, worsening conditions, excessive flexibility and overworks and staff shortages.