Members of four health unions in Northern Ireland - UNISON, RCN, NIPSA and Unite - have voted overwhelmingly to take industrial action, including strike action, to force the government to address pay inequality which leaves them the worst paid health employees in the UK. The unions also want urgent action to tackle staff shortages and to ensure safe and effective staffing levels.EPSU sent messages of solidarity. The unions are involved in a range of different actions but are planning a coordinated strike on 18 December.
Health unions take action on pay and staffing
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(January 2017) Services union ver.di coordinated a warning strike in all 21 hospitals in the Saarland region as part of a campaign to negotiate agreements with the hospital employers to deal with overwork and understaffing. The union will be meeting with employers in February to discuss the situation but has warned that further action will follow if the employers refuse to get involved in meaningful negotiations. A major demonstration is planned for International Women's Day on 8 March.
(November 2016) Service union ver.di has taken two initiatives to tackle staff shortages in hospitals and eldercare. As the first step in a national campaign, the union has called on all 21 hospitals in the Saarland region, whether public, private or non-profit, to negotiate agreements to increase staff, regulate working time and reduce workloads.Meanwhile, ver.di also launched a postcard campaign to highlight the vital work done by employees in eldercare institutions who are similarly facing increasing pressure of work and a major shortage of staff.
Prison staff unions in Belgium, France and Spain have been taking or are planning industrial action or demonstrations over staffing and pay. In France, the unions have raised concerns about prison overcrowding, violence against staff, the need for a significant increase in prison officer numbers and improvements to pay and conditions. After failing to get a satisfactory response from the justice ministry, the unions are calling for an extension of the action across the country. In Belgium, the issue is the failure of the government to adhere to a 2016 agreement on staffing levels and further