The three national trade union confederations – SAK, STTK and AKAVA – are extremely concerned about the new centre-right coalition government’s wide-ranging programme of attacks on trade union and workers’ rights and are planning events and protests in response. The government, which includes representatives of the far-right Finns Party is planning to impose restrictions on sympathetic and political strike action, a €200 fine for individual strikers when a strike is found to be illegal and a dramatic increase in fines on trade union for illegal action. It is also likely that further
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.
Retained firefighters organised by the SIPTU union have voted to end their dispute and accept an offer that includes measures on recruitment, pay and time off. The union hopes that these will help resolve serious staff shortages. Meanwhile, the Fórsa trade union is involved in disputes in health and local government. The union has agreed to suspend planned industrial action by health workers set to begin on 11 September. Fórsa will now continue negotiations in at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) in relation to career progression for eight groups of health and social care professionals
While some of the major disputes in public services have been or are being resolved, several significant strikes and protests over pay are still taking place. Various groups of non-teaching staff in schools, colleges and universities are all involved in action. Workers in colleges in Scotland have a rolling campaign of action while those in schools, organised by UNISON, Unite and GMB are planning strikes at the end of September. Non-teaching staff in universities in England and Wales will also walk out at different times in September and the beginning of October. Other disputes involve
Negotiations over pay and other conditions between the Kommunal trade union and the Visita company that provides catering services for several hospitals have broken down. The union has announced that action by workers at many facilities will go ahead from 14:00 on 15 September unless the company returns to the negotiating table with a commitment to negotiate and particularly to address Kommunal’s proposals to support the lower paid. The union will also block any new hiring as well as implement an overtime ban. Kommunal argues that higher inflation means that it is crucial to deliver pay rises
After the persecution of several FNME-CGT trade union leaders, including the General Secretary Sebastien Menesplier, CGT and other French unions gathered in front of Montmorency gendarmerie, where Menesplier was summoned, on 6 September.
PCS the main union in central government is running a ballot of members with a recommendation that the current campaign of strike action be suspended pending local negotiations on pay. The union is pleased with the results of the targeted industrial action that began last year, delivering a £1,500 non-consolidated cost-of-living payment and a concession from the government that the headline pay figure for 2023-24 will be 4.5% with an extra 0.5% for the lowest paid – more than double its originally intended figure of 2%. However, PCS wants to make sure that all agencies and departments benefit
Fórsa members across eight health and social care professions are set to take industrial action from 11 September in dispute over the career pathway review. Over 90% voted in favour of action, demonstrating the level of frustration with negotiations that began in 2018. The workers are employed in both the public and non-profit sectors and are demanding implementation of the promised career pathway review, meaningful discussions on clinical specialisms, advanced practice and management roles. The union argues that progress on these issues is an important factor in addressing the growing level
The SIPTU trade union is organising a series of meetings across all fire stations to assess the prospect of escalating strike action among retained firefighters and to ensure effective coordination of the action. This is in the lead up to a meeting of the union’s national committee on 9 August which will consider the results of the consultation and potential for further strikes. Over 2000 retained fire fighters are taking action to demand improved and more secure pay and conditions with more structured time off. The union has criticised both the employers and government for failing to engage
The strike of members of the SDSLN trade union in the Ministry of Justice is over following a close vote to accept the government’s offer of a 12% pay increase. Although below the €400 increase aimed for, the union argues that this is a reasonable increase and goes some way to recognising that workers in the ministry had been undervalued. The SDLSN also notes that it was a significant achievement to maintain the strike and to affirm its legality in the face of legal challenges by the government. The agreement with the government also confirms that the union will be involved in the negotiations
The STAL trade union is mobilising members in three separate disputes involving workers in parks and gardens, waste and municipalities. A four-day strike began on 3 August at the publicly-owned PSML company that maintains major buildings, parks and gardens in Sintra. The dispute is over a range of issues including deregulation of work schedules, integration into the pay system and allowances for employees who work in remote areas. Employees of the EMARP public company that provides cleaning and waste services in Portimão began their four-day strike on 4 August with demands over pay, salary
Following strike action, the Unite trade union has secured a 10.1% pay increase for waste workers employed by the Suez multinational in South Gloucestershire. Strike action against Suez also delivered in Somerset, where the union won a 9% pay increase up from the original offer of 4.85%. However, disputes continue elsewhere, including with the Urbaser company in North Yorkshire where workers have rejected an 8% pay offer and days of strike action have been planned stretching through August and into September. Meanwhile, renewed strike action is likely in Coventry. Lengthy strike action by
FSC-CCOO, FeSP-UGT and the other unions involved in strike action at the Ministry of Justice made sure their claims were heard at EU level when they organised a demonstration in Logroño to coincide with a meeting of justice ministers from across Europe. The protest was the latest action in the long-running dispute where the unions are demanding pay increases for the majority of workers in the ministry in line with increases already awarded specifically to lawyers. They also want measures to establish a fair salary system and improve career development. The next steps will depend on who forms
The ver.di trade union is running two weeks of action as part of its campaign to secure equal rights for workers employed by church organisations. Between 25 September and 6 October, union members will be out promoting the campaign petition with the aim of securing 4000 signatures. Currently church-based employers like the Diakonie and Caritas, organisations that employ hundreds of thousands of health and care workers, have special treatment under the law in relation to co-determination, collective bargaining and the right to strike. Ver.di wants this changed so that all workers have the same
The FP-CGIL, CISL-FP and UIL-FPL public service federations have called a one-day strike on 27 September to put pressure on the AIOP employers’ organisation to return to negotiations over the sector agreement covering private residential and care homes. The three unions normally negotiate with AIOP and ARIS, the employer organisation representing religious providers. AIOP, however, is aiming to negotiate a different agreement with the UGL trade union – an organisation outside of the three main confederations and with links to the far right – and the unions argue that this flies in the face of