As the trend towards public sector pay cuts began to take hold across Europe, EPSU decided it was important to monitor the impact of those cuts and the way they were being implemented. Two major reports produced by the Labour Research Department set out not just the facts and figures in 10 countries where cuts were imposed but also provide case studies to show what those cuts have meant for individual public sector workers.
Public Services, Firefighters, Prisons Services, Economic Policy, U.K., Europe
(July 2017) Seventeen health sector unions have come together to condemn the government's decision to impose the 1% pay gap for another year. Meanwhile, the firefighters' union has rejected a pay offer of 2% this year and 3% in 2018, saying that it fails to take account of the increasing workloads facing firefighters and workers at the Bank of England could go on strike for the first time in over 50 years unless the employer comes up with a better pay offer by the end of the month.
Many prison workers across Europe are facing longstanding problems of understaffing, overcrowding and, as a result, significantly increased risks of violence. These were common to three country case studies carried out for EPSU by researchers at the HIVA research unit at Leuven University. In the UK, Italy and Greece the situation of prison workers had deteriorated in recent years with the prison service in Greece in particular having faced the deep cuts to funding and workers' pay imposed across the whole of the public sector. While Sweden presented a contrasting case study, the evidence was
On 20 August the UK government was forced to take back control of a privatised prison in Birmingham in central England following a damning report by the prisons inspectorate. The prison had been run since 2011 by the G4S group, one of three multinationals that run 14 prisons in England.
The POA prison staff union's call for action by its members on 14 September was widely supported across the country. The union decided on the action following the latest revelations of violence against staff at Bedford prison in south east England which received an "urgent notification" from the Chief Inspector of Prisons who warned of the potential for a complete breakdown in order at the institution. The notification requires a response from the government. The POA has been demanding national action to reduce overcrowding and tackle violence and says that government imposed cuts are behind
The FBU firefighters' union has expressed disappointment that the employers' organisation has failed to provide a response to the union's pay claim that was submitted in early June. The union is looking for an immediate and substantial increase in pay to take account of 10 years of pay freezes and below-inflation increases. Meanwhile, the main civil service union, PCS, has launched a campaign on pay with the aim also of securing a pay increase that will begin to restore pay levels after a similar period when pay has been frozen or kept inflation.