Members of the PCS civil service union at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) in Swansea, South Wales, have agreed to take another four days of strike action from 4-7 May. This follows the four-day action on 6-9 April that the union says was strongly supported. PCS is concerned that DVLA management have failed to take action to address safety concerns following very high levels of COVID-19 infections at the site where 4000 workers are employed. The union has also argued about the level of continuing risk involved from allowing 2000 workers to carry on working at the site.
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 over 40 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.
Over 1400 workers, members of the PCS civil service union, took strike action from 6-9 April in protest at the failure to address safety issues at the Driver Vehicle and Licensing Agency (DVLA) in Swansea in South Wales. Over 600 DVLA employees have tested positive for COVID since last September with no effective response from management or the Department of Transport (DoT). Following the strike the union has called for immediate talks to resume with the DoT and will be discussing next steps with members.
Six trade unions are coming together to take strike action over jobs and precarious employment in the public sector in the Basque region. The unions are responding to the failure of the regional government to address public employment and the persistently high levels of temporary contracts across the public sector. Action is planned for 22 April across all the main public services – municipalities, health, education, general administration, justice, public transport, public media and other sectors. The unions want to see the thousands of temporary workers who have been crucial to tackling the
Four health unions are planning a day of strikes and protests on 8 April in their continuing campaign to ensure that the pay rises agreed in the “Ségur” package negotiated last year are extended to all workers in health and social care. The unions argue that there are still large numbers of public sector employees, around 300,000 in the private non-profit sector and some 250,000 home care workers who have not been guaranteed a EUR 183 pay increase. They are calling on the government to open negotiations immediately to address this issue and tackle the long-standing problem of declining working
The Fagforbundet public services union is celebrating a positive result after 30 days of strike action by some of its members in the private health sector. The aim of the strike was to ensure that agreements in the sector kept pay in line with the public sector. This was achieved including an historic rise in the minimum wage up by NOK 80000 (EUR 7800) to NOK 300000 (EUR 29250). The strike action was challenged by the NHO employers’ organisation, but the Labour Court ruled that the strike was legal and not in breach of the peace obligation. The union and employers are now committed to further
The OSYE prison services union took six days of strike action at the end of February and beginning of March over key demands on safety and staffing. The union is particularly concerned about staff on long working hours and the massive backlog of rest days and holidays that are owed to workers who have done extra shifts to compensate for understaffing. EPSU sent a message of solidarity.
The government has imposed compulsory arbitration in a dispute between unions representing health and care staff in the private and non-profit sector and the NHO employers’ organisation. The unions were taking strike action in support of their demand for higher pay rates that would bring pay in line with comparable collective agreements in health and care. The NHO was refusing to negotiate and then the national health board intervened claiming that the dispute was posing a danger to life and health. Each side will now present evidence to an independent wages board whose decision will then be
The Fagforbundet and FO trade unions have called workers out on strike in the private care sector. The dispute covers a range of services such as substance abuse, psychiatry, child welfare, nursing and care, and includes for-profit and non-profit organizations. The NHO employers’ organisation is refusing to offer pay increases that would ensure that workers are on pay levels comparable to the same occupations in other agreements. The unions are concerned that the NHO agreement is falling behind and say that some employers have switched to the agreement specifically to take advantage of the
Health and social care unions in the Basque region have been involved in a series of protests and strikes. Mobilisations in public health during December and January will culminate in a day of strike action on 28 January. The unions are angry about the failure of the public health system to honour basic rights to information and collective bargaining. They are concerned about the impact of the pandemic on the system and the way that management have responded by taking unilateral decisions on working conditions, health and safety and precarious employment. Two days earlier, on 26 January unions
Around 9000 employees of British Gas were due to begin a five-day strike from 7 January in protest at the company’s decision to fire all workers and rehire them on worse pay and conditions. British Gas’s parent company Centrica claimed the measures are necessary in response to the impact of the pandemic. However, the GMB trade union, representing engineers and call-centre staff argue that the initiative is excessive particularly in view of the company’s latest reported operating profits. 89% of the union’s members in the company voted for the strike action.
The mobilisation of workers in the EGF waste company on 18 December, reported in the EPSU Collective Bargaining Newsletter last month, was followed up with a 48-hour strike on 28 and 29 December. The action is part of a campaign by the STAL trade union to secure an increase in pay, payment of a supplement for risky and arduous work and a collective agreement. Meanwhile, in the public sector the SINTAP trade union has welcomed the inclusion in the 2021 state budget of provisions to allow for arduous work payments for waste and other workers in local government. However, the government has left
The Fp-Cgil, Cisl-FP, Uil-Fpl and Uil-Pa public service federations are mobilising for the national strike on 9 December. The unions say that years of recruitment freezes have created staff shortages and mean that public services need around 500000 extra workers. The unions are also calling for action to increase permanent employment with around 170000 workers on precarious contracts. Health and safety are also vital with unions wanting action on personal protective equipment, reduced workloads and measures to tackle harassment. Finally, the federations are calling for a renewal of the
Workers in the Liebenau Leben im Alter (LLA) non-profit eldercare provider, part of the church-based Caritas network, have taken strike action for the first time in a campaign to get a collective agreement. There are around 1.8 million workers in church-based health and social care providers where pay and conditions are set by the employer rather than by collective agreement. Last year just four ver.di members began to organise in LLA but the union now has 240 members in the organisation who want their employer to recognise the work they have been doing during the pandemic and bring their pay