Public service unions report very high levels of support for the national strike action on 14-15 February. All sectors of the public services were affected and this gives strength to the unions' claims to end the 10-year pay freeze and to address a wide range of other issues including career progression. Meanwhile, in relation to a separate action the SEP nurses' union has condemned the government for using its power of civil requisition to end a strike. The union argues that this is an excessive measure that undermines the right of healthworkers to take action and will, in any case, do nothing to resolve the dispute. Information on the right to strike in Portugal is now available in the new EPSU-ETUI series of country factsheets.
Massive support for strikes but government intervenes in health sector
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After three weeks of selective strike action in hospitals involving several public service unions, the government has used its powers to force an end to the action and refer the matter to a national labour tribunal which will meet in October. The strike was over pensions and ensuring that all hospital workers have a right to a pension from the first Krone earned. The government claimed a threat to health when the unions decided to step up the action. It has intervened in this way in the past, most recently in November 2018 in a dispute involving the NSF nurses' union (see epsucob@NEWS 22, 2018
The three public service federations - Fp Cgil, Cisl Fp and Uil Fpl - reported fantastic levels of support for the national strike in the private health care sector. In many facilities all workers not providing minimum services joined the strike action. This shows the level of determination of workers to secure the first new collective agreement for 14 years. The Aris and Aiop employer organisations refused to ratify the agreement in June after three years of negotiations and after initially indicated their backing for the deal. The negotiations cover around 100000 workers.
The Fp-Cgil, Fit-Cisl, Uiltrasporti and Fiadel trade union federations report very high levels of support for the national strike action in the waste sector on 8 November. They estimate overall that 90% of workers joined the strike with 100% coverage in some areas. The trade unions are determined to retain and renew the sector agreement and to incorporate a range of improvements. They want to ensure the agreement covers the whole sector including recycling plants and they are calling for action on safety, training, job classification and to ensure real increases in pay and other benefits.