A ballot for strike action carried out by civil service union PCS has produced a massive majority (86%) in favour of strike action over pay. However, the vote is invalid because of restrictions on public sector strike action introduced two years ago by the Conservative, centre-right government. Under the rules public service unions need to achieve a 50% turnout in the ballot and on this occasion it was 41.6%. This was the highest majority and highest turnout for a strike ballot in the union's history. PCS will use the high majority for action to strengthen its pay campaign. It is also considering legal action against the government over its refusal to allow electronic voting in strike ballots.
Industrial action blocked by anti-strike law
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Workers at the Schildautal hospital in Seesen in Lower Saxony are continuing their strike action to secure a collective agreement despite management's aggressive anti-strike measures (see EPSU Collective Bargaining News 19, October). Public services union ver.di has condemned the hospital owners, Askeplios, for failing to agree a minimum service agreement, threatening workers with the sack and offering strike-breaking bonuses. Further action was taken on 1 November despite the employer's intimidation and on the basis of the union's own proposal for minimum service.
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.