Collective Bargaining, Low pay/minimum wages, Embassy and household staff, Prisons Services, Economic Policy
(June 2017) Embassy, tourist office and other international staff around the world are taking strike action to secure pay rises and end a long-term pay freeze that has seen wages in some countries fall to below national minima. Unions are looking for a 20% pay increase, arguing that in some countries inflation has meant a 40% loss of purchasing power for some workers. Action has taken place or is planned in several countries including Canada, Sweden, the United States and Argentina.
The FSC-CCOO and FeSP-UGT public service federations have called a strike on 16 October involving workers in the government's overseas services. The strike is in protest at the freezing of salaries for the 7000 workers in the service and increasingly precarious employment conditions. The unions say that the strike is necessary as there has been no response to their demands since a meeting a meeting in June and despite a number of other protests and actions so far in 2017.
Prison sector unions are planning a series of 24-hour strikes beginning on 24 October in protest at the withdrawal of a pay offer by the prison service. The unions have been campaigning together for several years to secure improved pay as a key measure to tackle staff shortages in the sector. Following the installation of a new government, the prison service offered to increase the prison pay bill by EUR 122.6 million over the next three years. The unions were angry and astonished when, at a meeting on 25 September, the head of the prison service announced that the offer was withdrawn on the
EPSU's affiliates in the prison services - FSC-CCOO, FeSP-UGT and ACAIP-USO - began their planned six-day strike campaign on 24 October. The unions are calling on the government to abide by its commitment to fund pay increases in the sector that are needed to deal urgently with staff shortages and to address the question of major pay disparities in different institutions. The strike action follows a long period of campaigning, lobbying and negotiating and the unions have agreed that further strikes will take place on 26 October with a further four days in November (6, 8 13 and 15).
The trade unions representing prison workers, including EPSU affiliates ACAIP-USO, FSC-CCOO and FeSP-UGT, are continuing their strike action over pay despite attempts by the prison service to get the action declared illegal. The unions reported massive support for the first two days of strike action on 25-26 October. Further action had already been planned for 10-13 November but the unions had to counter the legal challenge by the employers and so have agreed that the next four days of action will run from 17-20 November.
Prison sector unions have called on the government to immediately restart negotiations over pay following the latest of six days of strike action which have had strong nationwide support from prison workers. The unions began the action following the new socialist-led government's withdrawal of funding for a pay increase. The unions now want to see bargaining restart and have been critical of the authorities for aggressive tactics in the policing of pickets and demonstrations around the country.