Social care workers in Kerry and Cork have voted for industrial action in what is set to be a national campaign of strikes across what are called Section 39 organisations. These are non-government, publicly funded bodies that provide health and social services. In 2018 there was an agreement that employees in these organisations would, in line with the public sector, get pay rises to compensate for the cuts imposed during austerity. They are still waiting for this pay restoration and as many as 250 organisations across the country could be hit by strike action over the coming weeks. SIPTU
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 41 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 OZZPiP nurses' and midwives' union looks set to declare disputes in different regions across the country in a process that could lead to a national strike. The union is angry that legislation on bonuses for work with COVID-19 patients has been amended and could see many nurses lose out if they work with COVID-19 patients but in hospitals that are not designated as COVID-19 facilities. Furthermore, the union is calling for allowances to go to all nurses and midwives that come into contact with COVID-19 patients and not just staff who are specifically assigned to care for these patients
The FSC-CCOO public services federation is organising a series of two-hour strikes in state museums and theatres in October and November. The union is protesting against the fact that workers in the sector are not properly covered by the collective agreement for the state sector. In particular, the union wants to ensure professional status for these workers and reduce the extent of temporary contracts. The strikes will begin on 25 October and will take place on 10 different dates up to 24 November with specific dates for different institutions.
Public service unions may be involved in new industrial action in two long-running disputes unless the government intervenes. The Forsa trade union has already set dates for strike action to try to resolve the two-tier pay system affecting school secretaries. Following the announcement of the action the government has made a commitment to address the problem but the union wants to see concrete proposals before it calls off the action. Meanwhile, Forsa is joined by SIPTU and INMO in considering a campaign of targeted action across non-profit providers of health and social services - Section 39
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.
The three public service federations - Fp Cgil, Cisl Fp and Uil Fpl - reported fantastic levels of support for the national strike in the private health care sector. In many facilities all workers not providing minimum services joined the strike action. This shows the level of determination of workers to secure the first new collective agreement for 14 years. The Aris and Aiop employer organisations refused to ratify the agreement in June after three years of negotiations and after initially indicated their backing for the deal. The negotiations cover around 100000 workers.
Service union ver.di has launched warning strikes across federal and local government to put pressure on the employers following the second round of bargaining. The union reports that the two-day meeting was a waste of time with no offer from the employers and no real appreciation or recognition of the work done by public sector employees. The employers have indicated that they will come up with an offer before the next round of negotiations which are due on 22-23 October. However, ver.di is not expecting much as on one key issue - equalisation of working time between Eastern and Western
EPSU has just published new factsheets on the right to strike in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia taking the total number of countries covered in this series to 41. This follows the addition of factsheets on Moldova, Russia and Ukraine earlier this year. Each factsheet sets out the main legal provisions and highlights any recent cases taken to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and/or the European Social Committee (ESC) of the Council of Europe. Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia have all been the subject of ILO and ESC cases. The ESC has ruled that all three are not in conformity with
The FSC-CCOO and FeSP-UGT have taken the government to task over the failure to implement a series of agreements. Around 200 FSC-CCOO activists protested outside the public services directorate on 9 July over employment, equality and, pay and other issues. The union wants action over jobs to make up some of the 43,000 that have been cut over the past 10 years. They also highlight the failure to properly implement equality plans and are calling for last year's agreement on pay to be put into effect to partially compensate for the 14% fall in purchasing power since austerity measures were in
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
Thirteen trade union organisations and health campaigning groups came together on 14 February to strike and join demonstrations calling for urgent action on the funding and provision of health and social services. This follows the previous national action on 17 December (EPSU CB News 24, December 2019). The key demands are for an increase in funding, action on recruitment and training, recognition of the arduousness of work in the sector, a stop on closures of facilities, opening up governance of hospitals to workers and patients and ensuring equal access to quality services.
The vida and GPA-djp private service unions will be coordinating further warning strikes on 26 and 27 February to put pressure on the employers in the negotiations covering 125000 workers in private health and social care. This follows the sixth round of bargaining which ended again without a concrete proposal from the employers. The unions are determined to press on with their central demand of a 35-hour week while maintaining pay and with an appropriate increase in staffing.
Strike action, a major demonstration, political support and international solidarity have combined to bring the Ameos health company to the negotiating table. Members of the ver.di services union have been on strike to get a collective agreement and the reinstatement of 14 colleagues who were sacked at the end of last year by the management of Ameos in the Saxony-Anhalt region. International solidarity was channelled through a labourstart campaign with over 6300 signatures calling on the company to negotiate. The strike action has now been suspended to allow time for negotiations which were
Workers at the Ameos private, for-profit health company in the Saxony-Anhalt region are taking strike action despite the aggressive intimidation of the company's management. The union wants to negotiate a collective agreement which links workers' pay and conditions to the public sector agreement. Not only have management refused to negotiate but they sacked 14 trade union activists before Christmas and are threatening a further 800 job cuts if the union contnues its campaign. EPSU joined with ver.di in launching a labourstart campaign, targeting the company management.