Public Services, Firefighters, Prisons Services, Economic Policy, U.K., Netherlands
(July 2016) Firefighters have been mobilising around the country and in some regions taking industrial action to defend their right to early retirement. In some regions firefighters have been handing in petitions to local authorities while in addition some firefighters have been dealing with emergency calls only. Firefighters currently have early retirement rights between 55 and 59 and want to resist the demand by employers to move to 60. Read more at FNV (NL).
(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.
(July 2017) Firefighters are set to benefit from a new wage and pension arrangements that will see their net income protected with pension coverage to ensure there is no gap between retirement and getting the state pension. The new arrangements recognise the risks associated with the job and compensate for changes implemented in the state pensions system. Firefighters also keep their right to retire at 59. This agreement covers around 2600 firefighters in post before 2006. A deal covering all other firefighters will now be negotiated.
Reacting to a recent report on increased violence in prisons, the FNV trade union has called for increased investment in prison staff to be made a political priority. Official figures show that violent incidents against staff rose to an average of four and a half a day in 2015 and then five a day in 2016. This, along with evidence of widespread drug abuse in prisons, has been taken up by the FNV as well as as the central works council of the justice ministry.
The FNV trade union for prison staff has called for an urgent meeting with prison service management to discuss the implications of a new report on staffing, safety and treatment of inmates. The union believes that the report, "Out of Balance", by the Justice and Security Inspectorate provides further evidence of its concerns over excessive workloads and inadequately trained staff. The union now wants the prison service to discuss permanent measures to tackle these problems building on the temporary arrangements that were agreed last year by the justice department and central works council.
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