Members of the Fórsa, INMO and SIPTU trade unions, employed in community and voluntary sector agencies funded by the state sector will begin indefinite strike action in a range of workplaces from Tuesday 17 October. The action, involving workers mainly in the health and social care sectors, is coordinated by the ICTU confederation and was overwhelmingly supported by members in ballots that took place following the breakdown of talks at the Workplace Relations Commission in July. The long-running dispute is over the failure by employers to address pay disparity between these workers and their
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 three public service federations Fp-Cgil, Cisl-Fp and Uil-Fpl coordinated a one-day strike on 27 September against the AIOP private health and social care employers’ organisation in protest at its refusal to negotiate with them and to negotiate instead with the unrepresentative UGL trade union. The federations issued the strike warning back in July after conciliation failed to resolve the dispute with AIOP and since then the employers have failed to return to negotiations. The three federations will also mobilise during the day to put pressure on regional health authorities to take action
On 21 September the ADEDY civil service confederation organised national strike action in protest at labour law changes that were due to be discussed in parliament that day. The changes target the public sector and include relaxations in working time rules that could see civil servants working up to 13 hours a day/78 per week. The changes would mark the end of the five-day week, allow for highly precarious contracts as well as stricter rules on strikes.
The three main trade union confederations – ACV/CSC, ABVV/FGTB and ACLVB/CGSLB – are taking further steps to defend trade union rights and particularly the rights to strike and protest. They will be joining other civil society and campaigning organisations on 5 October in a national demonstration against the Van Quickenborne law which will make it increasingly difficult to organise protests. The unions have already challenged attacks on trade union rights and particularly legal action taken against trade union strikers and protestors in the recent long-running Delhaize dispute in the retail
Over the past month the SDE energy workers’ union has submitted a proposal for extraordinary salary increase in the energy sector and has been lobbying on the draft of the law on energy policy, provisions of which could limit the right to strike. The union is also still active in providing support to energy workers that were affected by major floods in Slovenia in August. The solidarity fund initiated by the SDE has received wide support both nationally and internationally.
Members of the UNISON, Unite, GMB and RCM trade unions joined five other unions in coordinated strike action over pay on 21 and 22 September. Workers in the province are frustrated by the low level of pay offered to civil service workers, the complete lack of a pay offer in the health service and the continuing problems with staffing shortages. The unions are particularly frustrated about the fact that many public service workers in England, Scotland and Wales have aleady accepted pay offers and that the pay gap between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK is increasing. The ETUC sent a
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
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