Public service workers across the UK have been involved in number of disputes over pay, jobs and safety. Waste workers in Birmingham and Doncaster are taking or planning action over pay and safety while cleaners at four hospitals in East London are continuting their campaign for a higher pay increase against outsourcing company Serco. Meanwhile in Sheffield members of the PCS civil service union are taking strike action in protest at the closure of a local Job Centre, part of a campaign against government proposals for closures across the country. Finally, janitors in schools across Glasgow
Workers at the Charité hospital in Berlin, members of the ver.di services union, organised a day of action on 8 August in protest at the stalled health and safety negotiations on the question of staffing and overwork. The workers put on rose-tinted glasses in response to the claims by the hospital management that things were improving at the hospital. Ver.di wants the hospital to agree binding rules on how it deals with understaffed shifts but so far the management has failed to move towards an agreement.
The SGB trade union confederation and the vpod public services union have called for a general wage increase of between 1.5% and 2.0%. But the vpod also highlights the need to address the fall in real pay in the public services as well as the importance of ensuring higher pay for jobs dominated by women. Meanwhile the federal court has thrown out a challenge to a proposed minimum wage in the Neuenberg Canton, opening the way to implementation of an hourly minimum of CHFr 20 (€17.50).
The Danish nurses' union (DSR) reports that hospitals are being given red or yellow smileys by the Labour Inspectorate to indicate that they are failing to tackle serious problems to do with the mental and physical working environment. The hospitals categorised with red smileys are those with the most serious problems arising from years of cuts that have left overworked staff struggling to maintain services for patients. The union has called on the regional authorities to take urgent action.
A new report from the health federation of the CCOO confederation covering the period 2012-2016 confirms the union's concerns over a widening gender pay and employment gap in the health sector. The report finds that women tend to have more precarious contracts with many on temporary contracts while they make up the vast majority of part-time workers and both of these contribute to the persistent gender pay gap. The union wants to see equality plans produced in any health institutions that don't yet have them and existing plans updated. Along with the CCOO, the UGT trade union has called on the
On 2 June 2017 the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Bulgaria, together with , organised a Discussion Forum in Sofia to identify and address the challenges for effective social dialogue in Bulgaria. EPSU and HOSPEEM contributed to the exchange in highlighting the role and illustrating main outcomes of the the EU-level social dialogue in the hospital sector.
The GPA-djp has launched a campaign in protest against a decision by the non-profit pro mente rehabilitation company to apply a poorer collective agreement to all new employees from November this year. The union says that the move from the SWÖ (Austrian social economy) agreement to the Cure and Rehabilitation agreement will mean a massive deterioration of pay and employment conditions for the workers affected. The GPA-djp has set up an online petition to support the campaign.
The Health Workers' Union of Ukraine has called a national demonstration on 12 September in protest at the government's failure to respond to a labour dispute raised by the union last year. The union is claiming a general rise for all healthworkers as well as resolution of an issue relating to highly skilled workers' pay. The demonstration will also highlight the need to increase health sector funding and will protest against government plans for restructuring and to cut hospital beds.
Trade unions representing over 430,000 municipal workers have come together to call for a significant pay rise for their members. The unions argue that public sector workers were negatively affected by the competitiveness pact agreed in 2016 with cuts to holiday entitlement. The sector has also seen massive cuts, including job losses, and that a pay freeze would be totally unacceptable. The unions argue that a pay rise is necessary and would mean a major boost for the economy.
Nurses at the Cancer Society, supported by their union, the NSF, are continuing their strike in protest at the Society's decision to switch employer organisations to take advantage of a poorer collective agreement. This is the longest strike in the union's history (see first epsucob@NEWS report in issue 10) and the NSF says it is gaining more and more support.
Public sector trade unions met on 30th August to give a clear message to the government that there should be no further delay in paying the 10% salary increase for all public service workers. The unions accused the government of delay as it had already indicated that the promised increase would be applied from November rather than September. The unions said that they had been negotiating in good faith since April and would be joining a national demonstration on pay on 14 September to underline their message to the government.
The SSP/vpod public services union is campaigning with political and other organisations to defend the right to strike in the care sector. In proposed revisions to the law on the care sector, the government of the Fribourg region in western Switzerland plans to ban strike action. The union says this will deprive over 6000 workers (4000 in the public sector and 2500 in the non-profit sector) of the right to strike.The campaigning organisations have been collecting signatures for a petition and demonstrations and other action are planned if the region doesn't revise its proposals.
The coalition government has confirmed that it will implement a 10% pay rise for public sector workers (15% for teachers) in November. Public sector trade unions had expected the increases to be applied in September and issued a threat of strike action if the government failed to ensure that the increases would take effect in November.
On 12 September, service union ver.di organised a nationwide action by healthworkers to highlight the massive problem of understaffing in the sector. Staff were asked to ensure that they followed precisely the rules for disinfecting their hands before dealing with each new patient. Ver.di selected this as one example of the many tasks that workers simply don't have time to do properly because of the pressure of work. The union points out that workers are often under pressure to make decisions about which jobs they need to do, leading to stress and even sickness. This is the latest step in ver