Following a campaign of mobilisations and strike action, health unions have secured additional funding for the Iris group of hospitals in the Brussels region. This will be on top of the federal agreement on health funding earlier this year and will mean that an additional EUR 8 million a year will be available to improve working conditions over the next five years. The trade unions will start negotiations with management over implementing the improvements which will include full reimbursement of local travel costs on public transport and regular increases to the end-of-year bonus. CSC (FR)
The three main trade unions - CGSP/ACOD, ACV/CSC and SLFP/VSOA - organised a 48-hour national strike from 6am on 24 September in protest at proposals to relax the rules on prisoner visits. The unions are extremely concerned that the proposed changes come at a time of increasing infection and pose a serious threat to staff and inmates.
After a lengthy campaign of protests and industrial action, unions have secured an additional €1 billion in funding from the federal government to improve pay and conditions for health workers. €500 million will go towards the implementation of a new pay system and harmonisation of pay in the private and public sectors. Unions estimate this will mean pay increases of 5%-6%. €400 million will cover additional staff to ensure a better staff/patient ratio and 10% of this amount will contribute to improved training. €100 million is allocated to improving working conditions, including in particular
Health and social care trade unions have reinforced their demands for a major boost to pay and conditions, jobs and training in the health and social care sectors in response to the offer of a EUR 300 bonus to some health care staff. The bonus would be in the form of a voucher for spending in the retail and catering other specific sectors. However, it would only go to services directly funded by the federal government and so many care sector workers would miss out. Unions are also critical that it is tax and social contribution-free. Health and care trade unions have a series of key demands
18 June saw the beginning of a series of actions by health workers to give more visibility to their campaign to secure increased funding for the sector and their claims for more jobs and better pay and conditions. Physical actions in Brussels and Charleroi were combined with online photo and video actions, highlighting the key demands and the work done in the fight against COVID-19. There was also a guarded welcome for progress on additional funding for the sector with progress in the parliamentary process of approving additional funding of EUR 402 million which would include funding for 5000
When prime minister Sophie Wilmès visited the Saint-Pierre hospital in Brussels earlier this month she was met by rows of health workers with their backs turned. This reflected the growing anger among health workers about the failure of the government to deal with the pressing needs of the sector in terms of funding, staffing and personal protective equipment. Health trade unions are also angry about the two decrees (see CB News 9) on assistants carrying out nursing duties and requisitioning staff. Unions have issued official strike declarations in response to the failure to have a proper
Trade unions have strongly criticised the health minister for publishing two Royal decrees affecting health workers. The first would allow non-nursing staff to carry out some nursing duties. Unions say there are no details on how this would work in practice. The second provides powers to requisition health staff to work. The unions argue that this comes at a time when the infection rate is beginning to fall but more importantly was not even needed at the height of the crisis when health workers were doing all they could do fight the pandemic. The unions say that the decrees have been imposed
Members of the CNE and SETCA trade unions working at an eldercare home in Waterloo, south of Brussels, took strike action on 3 March to put pressure on management in advance of a conciliation meeting. The unions have been calling for action on staffing levels and say that currently employees are under so much pressure that they can only spend 16 minutes with each resident. Representatives of EPSU joined the picket. The home is run by the Orpea multinational and messages of solidarity were also sent from the ver.di union in Germany.
Trade unions (ACV/CSC and ACOD/CGSP) organised a national strike in the prisons service on 12 December in protest at underfunding, badly maintained buildings, lack of staff, overcrowding and the resulting safety issues arising from this deteriorating situation. Understaffing has lead to many employees doing extra hours and a massive number of hours of overtime that remains to be recouped. The unions also have issues with contracts, provision of uniforms and a lack of strategy in the justice system. It is estimated that prisons currently hold around 10000 in mates, exceeding capacity by 1700.
Health and social care unions from all three trade union confederations took strike action on 24 October to put pressure on the employers to resolve issues in the non-profit sector negotiations. Trade unions are particularly concerned to resolve problems around stability and predictability of working hours and contracts, right to annual leave, action to tackle burn-out and training. The unions say that most private hospitals were affected with action also taking place in the social care sector.
Trade unions in the health sector are set to take joint strike action on 24 October unless there are positive developments in the sector negotiations that resume on 14 October. Some demonstrations have already taken place but the unions are concerned about the lack of progress on substantial questions such as funding, worsening conditions, excessive flexibility and overworks and staff shortages.
The CNE trade union has been organising regular actions each Tuesday to highlight the pressure of work, understaffing and poor pay and conditions in hospitals, care homes and other health and social service institutions. It plans to resume the actions in September and has criticised hospital employers for failing to engage fully in negotiations to improve pay and working conditions. The CNE highlights in particular the failure of the employers to provide data on a new job and salary classification system that would have allowed an analysis of implementation of the system and discussions about
The CNE trade union is organising a series of weekly actions in the health and care sector to raise awareness of the serious problems relating to workloads and poor working conditions in hospitals and other care institutions. The union is coming up with a range of inventive actions on each "white-shirt" Tuesday to highlight the demands of workers to make the sector more attractive. The third Tuesday (18 June) focused on care homes and the poor pay and working conditions of care workers, particularly in home run by multinational companies.