With hundreds of thousands of public service workers taking strike action across Europe in recent weeks - in Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, the UK, Austria and Germany - it is timely that EPSU is publishing factsheets on the right to strike in 35 countries. The factsheets have been produced for EPSU by the European Trade Union Institute. Some groups of public service workers often face bans or restrictions on their right to strike and these factsheets set out the main rules. They also cover international case law and list international standards, such as International Labour Organisation
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 right to strike varies considerably across Europe, often with specific rules and restrictions imposed on public service workers. The European Trade Union Institute has produced 35 country factsheets that explain the latest legal situation. EPSU has also begun to add countries outside the European Union and candidate countries and a total of 48 countries are now covered.
The right to strike is fundamental for trade unions in underpinning their ability to organise, collectively bargain and represent their members. However, this right has often been restricted for public service workers and in recent years has come under attack.
EPSU affiliates in the public, non-for profit and private sector are on strike in Belgium, 13 February. The workers and our unions are fighting for a decent pay increase now profits are high, the economy is doing well and corporate taxes have been reduced.