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
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 younion and GÖD public sector unions have negotiated a 7.15% pay rise from 1 January next year with a 7.32% increase on allowances. However, the minimum guaranteed increase of €170 a month wiil mean that the lowest paid workers will see pay rise by 9.41%. Meanwhile, the vida and GPA private services unions have concluded a new collective agreement covering 130,000 employees in the private health, social and care sector. The two unions welcomed the 8% wage increase from 1 January 2023 along with the guaranteed minimum rise of €175 a month that means an increase of 10.2% for the lowest paid
After a month of strike action, the Fagforbundet, Delta and education trade unions have been able to secure an agreement with the PBL private childcare employers’ organisation on new pension arrangements. Workers will be able to build up a lifetime contractual pension from 1 January 2025 which will be comparable to that available to municipal employees. In addition, the percentage rate paid by employees for their own occupational pension will be reduced from 3% to 2.5% per cent in 2023, then down to 2% per cent when the new scheme is established. The employer's share is increased accordingly.
The ADEDY public service and GSEE private sector trade union confederations report strong support for their nationwide strike action and national protest on 9 November. ADEDY was calling for an increase in wages to compensate for inflation along with several other improvements to employment conditions, including re-establishing the 13th and 14th month salaries, an increase and extension of the allowance for dangerous and unhealthy work, negotiating collective agreements in the public sector, a boost for public health care funding, and massive recruitment of permanent staff to tackle staffing
The RCN nursing union has voted for industrial action for the first time in its history and strikes over pay across the health service could spread as other unions’ ballot results are announced in the coming weeks. UNISON is recommending strike action to its 350,000 members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland with the ballot due to end on 25 November. Members of the GMB union in Northern Ireland have already voted for strike action there. Meanwhile Unite plans to ballot its members in England and Wales and is already carrying out ballots of its members in the ambulance service, as is the
The three trade union confederations ACV/CSC, ABVV/FGTB and ACLVB/CGSLB organised a day of action and strikes over pay, prices and welfare benefits on 9 November. The confederations are calling on the government and employers to negotiate pay increases to help address the cost-of-living crisis and in particular to changes in the law to provide trade unions with more room to manoeuvre when negotiating on pay rises. The unions also want government support to help with energy bills and for increase social security payments. The confederations are determined to defend the system of pay indexation
The vpod/ssp public services trade union is mobilising its members around the country in support of action to secure higher pay. The union is organising a rally in Bern on 18 November where the regional government is proposing a pay rise of only 2% leaving workers with an effective pay cut. A day of strike action has already taken place in Geneva on 12 October and further action is planned for both 3 and 24 November. Vpod/ssp members in Fribourg are demanding a 4% pay rise in the face of the 2.3% on offer. The union is collecting signatures for a petition which will be handed in on 4 December
The public service unions Fagforbundet and Delta, along with the UF teachers’ union, are stepping up their industrial action to secure better pension rights for workers in private kindergartens. The action began on 17 October when mediation with the PBL employers’ organisation failed. More workers were due to join the action on 27 October which aims to ensure that workers covered by the PBL agreement have the same pension rights as childcare workers in municipalities. The action is getting widespread support, including a delegation from EPSU and its affiliates, and has helped boost union
The SINTAP public service union has signed an agreement with the government that will see pay increase by €52.11 a month in each of the years 2023 to 2026. The agreement also includes an increase in the food allowance and a range of pay improvements for selected occupations as well as commitments on career development. Meanwhile, the STAL local government union and other unions in the Frente Comum are planning a national strike on 18 November as they believe the proposed pay increases are inadequate.
The major trade unions in the health service are balloting for industrial action over pay with results due over the coming weeks. In England and Wales, unions have generally rejected the £1400 (€1610) increase on annual salaries with ballots in the RCN nursing union and UNISON public services union due to end on 2 and 25 November respectively. The RCM midwives’ union launches its ballot on 11 November. Unite is also balloting its members in Wales. Meanwhile, in Scotland a revised pay offer of a £2205 (€2540) increase on annual pay has not satisfied all unions. UNISON Scotland will consult its
The LVSADA health workers’ union organised two further warning strikes on 27 and 28 September following an initial action on 27 July. The union is pressing the government to agree to pay increases for all health workers in recognition of the work they continue to do under difficult circumstances. LVSADA says that both the European Commission and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development have acknowledged the need for action, including improvements to pay, to help tackle staff shortages. The union is angry that the government has unilaterally put forward a new pay system which
The TEHY and SuPer nurses’ trade unions have condemned the new law that imposes tougher requirements on industrial action in the care sector. Despite the law, further action as part of the unions’ continuing campaign to secure higher pay took place on 27 September and the unions are determined to pursue their claims with SuPer considering declaring mass resignations in home care. The unions also point out that existing legislation already regulated strike action and so the new law imposes a further burden that targets the care sector specifically. They also argue that, in contrast to the rules
Members of the public services unions Fórsa, SIPTU and INMO were involved in industrial action on 21-23 September as part of the ICTU confederation’s “Valuing Care, Valuing Community” campaign. The unions are pushing for better pay and conditions and increased staffing in non-profit providers of health and social care. They argue that workers in the sector have seen their pay fall relatively to directly employed public sector workers who carry out the same or similar jobs. This is having a major impact on the non-profit sector’s ability to recruit and retain staff.
The ADEDY civil service and GSEE private sector confederations have called for a national strike and demonstrations on 9 November over the cost-of-living crisis. ADEDY says that nothing has been done to reverse the pay cuts imposed on public sector workers as part of austerity measures 12 years ago and the government has not proposed any pay rise for civil servants for 2023 despite inflation reaching 11%. Along with its demands on pay, the confederation wants to see a boost to health funding and commitment to increase health and public service employment. Meanwhile, the GSEE is calling for an