Public service workers across the UK have been involved in number of disputes over pay, jobs and safety. Waste workers in Birmingham and Doncaster are taking or planning action over pay and safety while cleaners at four hospitals in East London are continuting their campaign for a higher pay increase against outsourcing company Serco. Meanwhile in Sheffield members of the PCS civil service union are taking strike action in protest at the closure of a local Job Centre, part of a campaign against government proposals for closures across the country. Finally, janitors in schools across Glasgow
Water, Central government
The SGB trade union confederation and the vpod public services union have called for a general wage increase of between 1.5% and 2.0%. But the vpod also highlights the need to address the fall in real pay in the public services as well as the importance of ensuring higher pay for jobs dominated by women. Meanwhile the federal court has thrown out a challenge to a proposed minimum wage in the Neuenberg Canton, opening the way to implementation of an hourly minimum of CHFr 20 (€17.50).
After the recent success of public service union UNISON in getting the courts to end the government's policy to charge workers for the right to take employment tribunal cases, UNISON and the PCS civil service union have celebrated two further court victories. UNISON's second success came in another landmark case that will effectively require employers to consult over workplace restructuring such as redundancies. The PCS victory was in a judicial review of government cuts to the civil service pension scheme which the government now has to withdraw.
PCS, the largest civil service union, organised protests over pay on 31 August in three of the largest government departments. The three departments - Justice, Home Office, Revenue and Customs - have all indicated that they will maintain the 1% pay cap for another year. Research for PCS has shown that the effect of pay freezes and the pay gap has cost civil servants anything from £3500 (€3800) to £20000 (€21700) depending on grade. The union is calling for a pay rise of 5% or £1200 (€1300).
Public sector trade unions met on 30th August to give a clear message to the government that there should be no further delay in paying the 10% salary increase for all public service workers. The unions accused the government of delay as it had already indicated that the promised increase would be applied from November rather than September. The unions said that they had been negotiating in good faith since April and would be joining a national demonstration on pay on 14 September to underline their message to the government.
Workers employed in the Agency for International Co-operation for Development (AECID) took strike action on 8 September in protest over pay and conditions. Around 40% of staff have either left or are thinking of leaving the service because of deteriorating conditions pay frozen since 2009 and eroded by inflation and currency fluctuations. This has left some workers as much as 60% worse off in real terms. Unlike workers in other overseas departments AECID employees don't get any protection against local changes in the cost of living and this is the key demand of the strike.
The coalition government has confirmed that it will implement a 10% pay rise for public sector workers (15% for teachers) in November. Public sector trade unions had expected the increases to be applied in September and issued a threat of strike action if the government failed to ensure that the increases would take effect in November.
Public service unions have stepped up their campaign to end the public sector pay cap for all workers following the government's decision to offer higher pay rises to police, prison officers and firefighters. The unions used the annual meeting of the Trade Union Congress to make the case that all public service workers have seen their real pay decline significantly and deserve a higher pay rise. The FBU firefighters' union has rejected the 2% pay offer arguing that it comes with too many unacceptable conditions.
Unions at the Veolia water company have announced strike action in protest at the company's latest plans for restructuring, the fourth in three years. The unions are angry that a further 572 jobs are due to go by 2019 after 2000 have already been cut since 2014. They are particularly concerned that this time the company has not ruled out compulsory redundancies which the unions say would be the first for the sector. The unions say the cuts aren't justified in terms of the company's economic performance and they want the company to withdraw the threat of compulsory redundancies and begin a
Trade unions at the Veolia water company are taking strike action over the company's plans for restructuring - the fourth in only three years. These will impact on over 1500 posts with 572 specified as job cuts. The unions are particularly angry that the company is talking about compulsory redundancies. This would be a first for the sector. The unions want the company to withdraw this threat and to properly negotiate over the changes with a view to providing workers with training and retraining opportunities.
Faced with an attempt to reduce the role and unique charter of the Global Water Operators Partnership Alliance, EPSU, many affiliates, water movement groups and activists have addressed an Open letter to UN Habitat.
The main public sector unions in the CCOO and UGT confederations are calling on the government to improve its pay offer for the next three years. The current offer provides a guarantee for a 5.34% increase (1.5% in 2018, 1.75% in 2019 and 2.0% in 2020). However, this could reach 8% overall if target growth in economic output (GDP) is reached, along with a further target for deficit reduction. The unions want to see guaranteed increases that would begin to make up for the significant loss of purchasing power of public sector workers. The unions also want to see progress on working hours and an
Following votes across all the public sector unions, a majority (14), accounting for 80% by membership supported the new agreement on pay and conditions with three voting against. The three-year deal includes six pay increases (two targeted at the lower paid only) and will mean that the majority of public sector workers (73%) will see an overall increase of 7% by the end of the agreement. There is a range of other conditions that have been confirmed as part of the deal including the retention of outsourcing protections, the option to negotiate on returning to a shorter working week and
The JHL public sector union is preparing for the upcoming round of collective bargaining by surveying members and activists over the key elements for negotiation across the 60 agreements that it covers, most of which expire in January 2018. This time there will be not be a framework agreement negotiated with employers but the union will be in discussion with other members of the SAK confederation with a view to setting some common demands.