Federations continue their campaign for statute for forest firefighters
On 28 February the FSC-CCOO and FeSP-UGT public service federations organised a demonstration outside the Ministry for Ecological Transition in the latest stage of their long-running campaign to secure a coherent, national statute covering the 20,000+ people who work as forest firefighters. The long-promised statute should be confirmed in the coming months but the trade unions want to keep up the pressure to ensure that there are no delays and that some of their remaining issues of concern are addressed. These include qualifications and competences covered by the statute, retirement issues
No let-up in strike action across public services
With the UK government still refusing to negotiate on pay, the RCN nursing union is planning its biggest strike action so far for 48 hours from the morning of 1 March to the morning of 3 March. It will impact 128 NHS employers across England and involve all members in workplaces with a mandate to strike. This follows the two days of strikes on 6-7 February which were already a step up from the level of action in December. In the same week ambulance workers also maintained their campaign over pay with action spread over several days involving UNISON, Unite and the GMB and with more areas voting
Firefighters’ union organises protest over pay
The SPGS firefighters’ union organised a rally on 16 February in protest at proposed changes to the public sector pay system that would adversely affect its members. A significant compression of the pay structure would leave firefighters in the bottom tenth of the grades rather than the top third as now. There are also concerns about the suspension of promotion and performance bonuses. The SPGS argues that firefighters are not being treated on an equal basis in relation to other, comparable jobs or professional groups.
Firefighters set to join public service strikes
Members of the FBU firefighters’ union have voted overwhelming for strike action and the union has given the government 10 days to respond before setting any strike dates. This means firefighters will join the widespread actions across the UK involving central government workers, nurses and ambulance staff along with education and rail workers. The PCS civil service union organised a national strike on 1 February and further targeted action is planned for later in the month. The TUC confederation also organised protests around the country on 1 February in protest at the government plans for
Firefighters vote for industrial action
Members of the SIPTU union working as retained (part-time) firefighters have voted overwhelmingly for industrial action, including strike action, in protest at the failure to address problems in relation to pay, leave and working time. The union argues that serious recruitment and retention problems are putting extra pressure on existing staff who have also seen a decline in their pay and are finding increasingly difficult to take leave. SIPTU is calling for the introduction of a structure system of pay and conditions.
Central government workers latest to vote for strike action
Members of the PCS central government union have voted overwhelmingly for strike action in over 120 areas of government activity. The average majority “yes” vote of over 86% is the highest in the union’s history. The union is calling for a 10% pay rise, pensions justice, job security and no cuts to redundancy terms. With no response from the government on these issues PCS has agreed an initial programme of targeted action in the ministries covering ports, borders and all areas of transport among others. Meanwhile, more health workers in range of areas including blood and transplant services
LRG Social Dialogues adopt joint position on protecting workers from asbestos and the future of local emergency services
On 16 November, EPSU and CEMR sealed a number of important agreements setting the priorities for the next years and committing to political principles for the workers in emergency services and their protection from asbestos.
Public sector deal moves closer
The SZSVS health union reports that a new agreement covering the public sector is close to being finalised with a 4.5% pay increase due from 1 October this year. There will also be increases to the lunch allowances and some starting salaries will be moved up one pay bracket from April 2023. There will also be additional compensation ranging from €100 to €300 for the lower paid. However, several matters affecting different pay categories of health workers, that prompted a strike earlier this year, remain unresolved and firefighters are also concerned to see some occupations move up the pay
Health and safety of workers must be taken more seriously: stop asbestos
On 28 September, the European Commission published its proposal to better protect workers from asbestos, by lowering the current occupational exposure limit for asbestos from 100,000 fibres per cubic meter to 10,000 fibres per cubic meter.
Firefighters’ union latest to consult on strike action
The FBU firefighters’ union is the latest public service union to consider industrial action over pay. The union has rejected a 2% pay offer and is now consulting its membership over a possible national ballot on strike action. Workers in universities, including non-teaching staff, began strike action on 20 September, having rejected a 3% pay offer and calling for a pay rise to match inflation. In the health service, the RCN nursing union has postponed its historic ballot on industrial action to run from 6 October to 2 November while in central government the PCS’s ballot for industrial action
National protest by firefighters
Firefighters’ unions, including Fp-Cgil-Vvf and Fns-Cisl have called a national demonstration in Rome on 14 September with urgent demands on pay, staffing, equipment and safety. With services stretched to the limit to tackle the increasing number of forest fires, flood and other emergencies, the unions argue that the number of active firefighters needs to be increased from 33000 to 40000 and professional and technical staff from 2000 to 5000. They are also concerned about inadequate and out-of-date equipment which not only hampers their response to emergencies but exposes firefighters to
Union set to mobilise over forest firefighters’ rights and conditions
The FSC-CCOO and FeSP-UGT public service federations representing forest firefighters say they will launch a campaign of strikes and protests unless the government and the autonomous regions deliver legislation that really protects the rights and conditions of this essential group of workers. The unions warn that action is needed urgently in the light of the surge in serious and large forest fires this summer. They argue that the legislation put forward on 25 August does not fully address the demands of the unions for homogenous working conditions covering training, salary structure