The GMB and Unite trade unions have negotiated a major boost to pay for lorry drivers working in waste services for Plymouth City Council in the South West of England. The re-classification from unskilled to semi-skilled means that the workers will be moved up the pay scale resulting in pay increases of 12.6% for some. The two unions argue that this should have major implications across the sector and are trying to win improvements to pay and conditions for waste workers in other local authorities but are having to resort to industrial action to make progress. A 48-hour strike in Coventry in
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.
The FSSHK health workers’ union suspended strike action planned for 20 December to allow for talks with the health ministry and prime minister. The union has already taken action in its campaign to ensure the 2022 budget includes funding for higher pay for health workers. The union is aiming for a 50% pay increase. However, it has proved difficult to bring the government to the negotiating table and the union says that it has only suspended the action and it will set another date in January if talks with the government don’t deliver. The prime minister has attacked the leadership of both the
The CGIL and UIL confederations have announced joint actions on 16 December with an eight-hour strike and demonstrations in Rome and four other cities. The unions are concerned about the direction the government is taking particularly with regard to taxation, pensions, schools, industrial policies and combating restructuring and job insecurity, especially for young people and women. The unions argue that resources are available to allow for a more effective redistribution of wealth, to reduce inequalities and to generate balanced and structural development and stable employment.
The JHL public services union has successfully defended the pay and conditions of workers employed by the Arkea municipal company that provides catering and other services to the Turku local authority. The company had sought to change collective agreements that would have meant significant changes to pay rates with some workers potentially losing out by as much as 30% of their earnings. The strike action led to negotiations with the company which will now stick with the current agreement which is due to be re-negotiated next spring.
Following their massively supported national strike on 8 November, union federations in the waste sector are taking another day of action on 13 December. The unions have been calling for the renewal of the sector agreement which expired 29 months ago and to ensure it covers the whole of the sector. Employers are, however, are looking to undermine collective bargaining and trade union rights. They haven’t made any offer to increase pay or to compensate workers for the period since the expiry of the last agreement. Unions are calling for investment in the sector and the sectors’ workers and will
The two main trade union confederations – FGTB/ABVV and CSC/ACV – are jointly organising a national demonstration on 6 December. They want to raise the problem of defending living standards as inflation increases, particularly driven by soaring energy prices. The confederations want to ensure that there is real space for proper negotiations and are challenging the provisions of the 1996 law that restricts the scope for pay increases. In the recent biennial negotiations the margin for increasing pay above inflation was limited to 0.4%. The confederations also want to defend trade union rights
Public service trade unionists from Central, Eastern and South East Europe met online last week (16-17 November) to discuss the challenges they face in asserting their fundamental rights to organise, negotiate and take strike action and ensuring that all workers are protected by ILO or EU labour provisions.
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.
The FGTB/ABVV trade union confederation will appeal against the conviction of 17 trade unionists for their involvement in a road block during the general strike of 18 October 2015. On 19 October 2021, the Court of Appeal of Liège confirmed the judgement pronounced in November 2020 by the criminal court, with the activists given suspended prison sentences of 15 days or one month and fines ranging from €1,200 to €2,100 euros. The judgment was based on the offence of "malicious obstruction of traffic" provided for in Article 406 of the Belgian Penal Code which had been used before to convict a
Trade unions in the Frente Comum federation of public service unions were due to go ahead with a day of strike action on 12 November despite the national budget for 2022 being voted down and the calling of a snap election for the end of January 2022. The unions are calling for a pay rise for public sector workers, implementation of the allowance for arduous and dangerous work, action to reduce precarious employment and a range of other measures to improve employment conditions. In contrast, the FESAP federation of public service unions has withdrawn its strike call for 12 November, arguing
Waste and cleansing workers in Sheffield in North East England and Glasgow in Scotland have been involved in industrial action over pay. The dispute in Sheffield is over a below-inflation pay offer from the contractor Veolia and the GMB trade union has called all-out action in response to the employer’s use of agency staff to try to undermine the action. The strike in Glasgow was also over pay and the attempt by the council to use the courts to block the action. It was supported by other workers and activists attending the COP26 climate conference. Industrial action by the UNISON public
The FNV and other unions that organise in the eight university medical centres (UMCs) are planning a third day of industrial action on 25 November unless the employers show willingness to re-open negotiations over pay, workloads and staffing. This will be the third day of action in the UMCs that employ around 80000 workers. The employers have said that they will negotiate over allocation of the extra €60 million of funding for pay provided by the government. However, the unions argue that even with the additional money this would still leave a below-inflation pay rise for the next three years
The federations that organise workers in waste and environmental services – Fp-Cgil, Fit-Cisl, Uiltrasporti and Fiadel – have called for a national strike on 8 November. The unions are mobilising hard to maximise turnout and ensure the key messages of the dispute are fully understood. They are facing up to employers who are pushing to unilaterally worsen employment conditions for all workers with a view to cut labour costs and eliminate the unions. The unions are determined to resist precarious working conditions and calls to decentralise bargaining and so fragment the main sector agreement. A