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 Tehy and SuPer nurses’ unions have responded angrily to plans by the government for legislation that would effectively ban strike action in health and social care. The unions are in dispute with the municipal employers who have rejected a proposal for a five-year strategy to increase pay and tackle the staffing shortage in the sector. In response, Tehy and SuPer have been running a campaign of industrial action and recently announced targeted strike action around the country. Rather than intervene and discuss with employers and trade unions how to resolve the dispute the government is
Unions representing local government workers in Scotland – UNISON, Unite and GMB – have suspended strike action while they consult members over an improved pay offer from the employers. The three unions are recommending acceptance of a deal that would provide a £2000 (€2310) annual pay rise for the lowest paid; £1,925 (€2225) for those earning between £20,500-£39,000 (€23700-€45000); a 5% increase for those earning between £39,000-£60,000 (€45000-€69360); and a maximum increase of £3000 (€3470) for the highest paid. The pay increases will be based on a 36-hour rather than 37-hour week and are
EPSU has sent a message of solidarity to nurses' unions in Finland in the face of the government’s threat to ban strikes in health and social care. The federation has also written to the Finnish prime minister urging her to withdraw this unacceptable threat to the right to strike.
The government’s offer of a £1,400 (€1620) annual pay increase for health workers has not convinced trade unions. Public services union UNISON has launched a campaign over pay in the health service with a ballot planned for October, while the GMB and Unite trade unions have already begun balloting their members in the health service. The historic ballot over possible strike action by nurses’ union RCN is due to begin on 15 September. Meanwhile, university employees, including non-teaching staff such as cleaners, catering and security workers and library and administration employees
The TEHY and SuPer nurses’ unions are stepping up their campaign of industrial action to secure a better pay offer from the municipal employers. The two unions have maintained an ban on overtime and shift changes since before the summer but have now tightened up those restrictions and also announced a series of strike actions beginning with a one-day stoppage in Kanta-Häme in the South West on 2 September. So far three further strikes – each of four days – have been declared in Turku, Helsinki and Oulu with two running from 6-9 September and the Oulu action running from 13 to 16 September. The
The LVSADA health workers’ union, supported by associations representing doctors and nurses, organised a warning strike and protest on 27 July, arguing that the government had failed to meet commitments to increase pay. The union says that a 10% increase should have been paid on 1 July on the current salaries of €1963 for doctors, €1183 for nurses, midwives and other professionals and €745 for support staff. LVSADA further argues that the government has also failed to meet a commitment from 2017 that would have seen these salaries reach €2327, €1396 and €931 respectively. Depending on the
The STAL municipal service union organised a two-day strike across the FCC Environment waste group on 15-16 August. The union says that the company is refusing to negotiate on pay, claiming that its financial situation prevents it from offering a pay increase to workers. The union says that urgent action is needed to tackle low pay and the impact of inflation and wants to see a minimum monthly increase of €90, along with negotiations on better working conditions and health and safety and a consistent approach across the whole company.
Members of the RCN nursing union in Scotland have voted overwhelmingly to reject a 5% pay offer and a majority has given support to strike action. The union in England and Wales will launch a ballot next month with a similar recommendation from the leadership to reject the pay offer and support industrial action. This opens up the prospect of the first ever UK industrial action by the union. In England and Wales the union’s main pay demand was for a rise of 5% above inflation (currently 11.8%), to combat years of wage stagnation and the cost-of-living crisis. The government has announced an
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.
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