Members of the STAL municipal services union took strike action on 1 August in protest at the failure of the Braval waste company to increase pay in the face of soaring inflation. The publicly-owned company provides waste services across a range of municipalities in northern Portugal. The union says that there has been no pay increase for two years and it is calling for a minimum increase of €90 for all workers. It also wants the company to abide by the collective agreement particularly in relation to career progression and wage development.
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.
After 11 weeks of strike action and more than 25 days of negotiations, health union ver.di and the six university hospitals in North Rhine Westphalia have agreed on the key points for a collective agreement that addresses excessive workloads and understaffing. The agreement will run from the beginning of 2023 and sets out the ratio of employees to patients required on each shift. If this ratio isn’t met or if other stressful situations occur, those affected receive stress points and then an additional day off for every seven points accumulated. In the first full year of implementation up to 11
Drivers, refuse workers and street cleaners continue to take action around the country to secure pay rises as inflation eats further into purchasing power. The Unite, GMB and Unison trade unions are all involved in a dispute with Serco the private contractor used by Sandwell council near Birmingham. Workers have voted for strike action on 28 and 29 July and then on 4, 5 and 8 August. They have rejected an 8% pay offer and argue that the company can afford a higher increase having seen profits soar by 25%. Refuse workers employed by Newham council in east London are being balloted for strike
The ver.di services union and IG BCE industry union have negotiated a new 21-month agreement with the Uniper energy company. There is a 3% pay increase for all workers and trainees from 1 July this year, followed by a 4% increase on 1 April 2023. There is also a change to the pay structure so that trainees taken on as employees are not placed on a lower starting rate. In contrast, negotiations in the GASAG gas company are much more challenging with ver.di calling a warning strike for 27 June after six bargaining rounds that have failed to bring the two sides closer together. The union’s
A first wave of strike action across the care and community sector has involved hundreds of workers joining picket lines and protests calling for pay rises that they have been denied for 14 years. The SIPTU union, along with public services union Fórsa and the INMO nursing union, are calling on the government to agree increased funding for the sector to cover pay increases. The unions argue that the pay rises are needed to keep workers in line with the public sector, aid recruitment to tackle staff shortages and so address the threat to the quantity and quality of services provided. The three
Health workers across Portugal took strike action on 1 July over a range of issues, not least pay increases to protect purchasing power. The SINTAP trade union highlights some of the key demands that include major issues relating to careers and career development, subsistence allowances, ensuring that all workers are on the single employment contract and strengthening the National Health Service in terms of both finance and staffing. Meanwhile, members of the STAL union joined the national strike in the ADP water company that is part of a long-running campaign to win improvements to pay
The SSM trade union federation organised strike action across the public sector on 22 June. With inflation hitting double-figures, the federation is demanding a 2806 denari net (€45.5) increase for public sector workers in line with the increase in the national minimum wage. The union has been negotiating with the government with a view to achieving a pay increase this year had understood that the government would sign a collective agreement including a pay rise and discussions on future increases. However, it then became apparent that the resources to fund the pay rise had not been included
Over 1500 employees of the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) took part in a one-hour warning strike on 13 June organised by trade unions in the CITUB and Podkrepa confederations. The unions are calling for an increase on the basic salaries of all NHIF employees and the creation of at least 200 new full-time positions to ensure that the service can copes with new demand on the NHIF. The unions estimate that an extra BGN 10 million (€5.1m) is needed to cover these costs and wants to ensure that this is include in the NHIF budget for 2022. NHIF workers are highly qualified specialists
On 15 June the Labour Court in Bonn rejected an application by the local University Hospital to ban strikes being organised by the ver.di trade union. The strike action is part of what has so far been an eight-week campaign in six university hospitals in the North Rhine Westphalia region to secure a new collective agreement that addresses overwork and understaffing. The union wants a deal that covers all professional groups in the hospitals and has rejected an offer by the employers that would only cover nurses involved in direct patient care. Ver.di wants to see shift-specific minimum numbers
The UNISON trade union is planning strike action at the St.Monica Trust care company in Bristol in south west England over threats to sack staff unless they accept a pay cut. The union says that more than 100 staff were told in March that they must accept inferior new contracts – costing them thousands of pounds a year and watering down their sick pay – or be fired. The first strike will take place on 29 June, with further action planned for 2, 5, 10 and 11 July. The company is threatening to cut weekend pay rates for senior care workers by 21%, while other staff are being asked to take a 10%
The collective agreement covering the municipal sector has now been finalised and runs from 1 May 2022 to 30 April 2025. EPSU affiliates JHL and Jyty report that salaries will increase this month by €46 per month for those on less than €2300 a month and by 2% for salaries above this amount. Allowances will also increase by 2%. A pot of 0.5% will be distributed in October depending on negotiations in September. If the negotiations don’t produce a result the 0.5% will be a general increase for all. Next year and in 2024 wages will increase by at least 1.5% in June with a further 0.4%, allocated
Trade unions in the energy sector are planning strike action on Thursday 2 June over the erosion of purchasing power of their members. In a joint statement, they criticise the employers in the sector for failing to agree a timetable to negotiate and for applying an increase of only 0.3% on the basic national salary in January this year when inflation was already at 4.5%. The unions also highlight the fact that energy sector pay has not kept pace with inflation over many years and they are demanding an immediate increase of 4.5%.
The Super and Tehy health unions are maintaining their ban on overtime and shift changes following their rejection of the proposed deal for health and local government. They continue to press for higher pay increases as essential to help tackle the urgent staff shortages in health and social care. Meanwhile, municipal unions JHL and Jyty are also keeping up their industrial action despite their provisional approval of the agreement. They are pushing for the agreement to be finalised and for the expected payments to be made by the summer, arguing that workers could lose out by over €300 if pay