The SSM trade union federation organised strike action across the public sector on 22 June. With inflation hitting double-figures, the federation is demanding a 2806 denari net (€45.5) increase for public sector workers in line with the increase in the national minimum wage. The union has been negotiating with the government with a view to achieving a pay increase this year had understood that the government would sign a collective agreement including a pay rise and discussions on future increases. However, it then became apparent that the resources to fund the pay rise had not been included
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.
Over 1500 employees of the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) took part in a one-hour warning strike on 13 June organised by trade unions in the CITUB and Podkrepa confederations. The unions are calling for an increase on the basic salaries of all NHIF employees and the creation of at least 200 new full-time positions to ensure that the service can copes with new demand on the NHIF. The unions estimate that an extra BGN 10 million (€5.1m) is needed to cover these costs and wants to ensure that this is include in the NHIF budget for 2022. NHIF workers are highly qualified specialists
On 15 June the Labour Court in Bonn rejected an application by the local University Hospital to ban strikes being organised by the ver.di trade union. The strike action is part of what has so far been an eight-week campaign in six university hospitals in the North Rhine Westphalia region to secure a new collective agreement that addresses overwork and understaffing. The union wants a deal that covers all professional groups in the hospitals and has rejected an offer by the employers that would only cover nurses involved in direct patient care. Ver.di wants to see shift-specific minimum numbers
The UNISON trade union is planning strike action at the St.Monica Trust care company in Bristol in south west England over threats to sack staff unless they accept a pay cut. The union says that more than 100 staff were told in March that they must accept inferior new contracts – costing them thousands of pounds a year and watering down their sick pay – or be fired. The first strike will take place on 29 June, with further action planned for 2, 5, 10 and 11 July. The company is threatening to cut weekend pay rates for senior care workers by 21%, while other staff are being asked to take a 10%
The collective agreement covering the municipal sector has now been finalised and runs from 1 May 2022 to 30 April 2025. EPSU affiliates JHL and Jyty report that salaries will increase this month by €46 per month for those on less than €2300 a month and by 2% for salaries above this amount. Allowances will also increase by 2%. A pot of 0.5% will be distributed in October depending on negotiations in September. If the negotiations don’t produce a result the 0.5% will be a general increase for all. Next year and in 2024 wages will increase by at least 1.5% in June with a further 0.4%, allocated
Trade unions in the energy sector are planning strike action on Thursday 2 June over the erosion of purchasing power of their members. In a joint statement, they criticise the employers in the sector for failing to agree a timetable to negotiate and for applying an increase of only 0.3% on the basic national salary in January this year when inflation was already at 4.5%. The unions also highlight the fact that energy sector pay has not kept pace with inflation over many years and they are demanding an immediate increase of 4.5%.
The Super and Tehy health unions are maintaining their ban on overtime and shift changes following their rejection of the proposed deal for health and local government. They continue to press for higher pay increases as essential to help tackle the urgent staff shortages in health and social care. Meanwhile, municipal unions JHL and Jyty are also keeping up their industrial action despite their provisional approval of the agreement. They are pushing for the agreement to be finalised and for the expected payments to be made by the summer, arguing that workers could lose out by over €300 if pay
In a long-running and bitter dispute over pay in Coventry, the Unite trade union has just discovered that the local authority has agreed a 12% pay increase for the workers in the private company that is being used to try to break the strike. Meanwhile, Unite members at Rugby Borough Council began strike action on 26 April to get the local authority back to the negotiating table. In Croydon, South London, Unite members employed by Veolia are being balloted for industrial action following the rejection of a 2.5% pay offer. Members of Unite and the GMB, in Manchester called off their action when
EPSU and industriAll Europe have sent a joint letter to the management of the AB Achema factory in Lithuania protesting at its anti-union activity and failure to resolve a dispute over pay and collective bargaining.
The Tehy and SuPer nurses’ unions have confirmed the dates for the second period of industrial action following the first set of strikes launched on 1 April. The next stage will begin on 20 April and end on 4 May and will affect specialised medical care in 13 hospital districts, with approximately 35,000 nurses on strike. The postponement is to allow the Conciliation Committee sufficient time for mediation. The severe shortage of nurses in areas like elderly care means that this sector will be excluded from the strike as the unions point out that the staffing levels regulated by law are often
The Kommunal and Vision public service unions are involved in mediation over a dispute with the Swedish church. The unions are concerned that the church has failed to negotiate a transition agreement in line with many other employers, following recent legislative changes. Instead the church appears to want to reduce employment conditions as a way to compensate for delivering the new transition agreement. Kommunal has announced that it will initiate a dispute on 22 April if there is no agreement, starting with industrial action and building to potential strike action on 27 April.
Around 25,000 members of the TEHY and SuPer nurses’ unions were due to start strike action on 1 April following rejection of a pay offer delivered by mediation. The action is initially targeted at six hospital districts and workers not on strike will join a ban on overtime and shift changes. Further strike action may follow later in April if a better offer is not on the table. The two unions join local government unions, JHL and Jyty, which have already taken two-day strike action in two different municipalities with further action planned in another six – two from 6 April and four from 19
The Tehy and SuPer trade unions representing nurses and other medical staff have set out plans for strike action to give impetus to the negotiations in health and social services. The two unions want to see positive action on salaries and have set out a five-year rescue programme for the health and social services sector. This includes increases to the basic wage level of 3.6% annually in addition to the normal contract increases that protect purchasing power. With women making up 90% of the care workforce, the unions argue that this is an essential measure to address the persistent gender pay