Public Services, Firefighters, Prisons Services, Economic Policy, U.K., Portugal
(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.
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 STAL and STML trade unions that represent firefighters organised a national protest in Lisbon on 3 December to challenge the government over changes to the statutes that regulate pay and conditions in the sector. The trade unions had already registered their anger with the government over its failure to negotiate with them. The government did agree to meet the unions but they rejected its proposals for change because they threatened to undermine firefighters' pay, pensions and career progression.
Firefighters, members of the STAL and STML trade unions, took strike action from 18 December to 2 January in protest at government plans to change the statutes covering their pay, retirement and other conditions. The unions not only reject the proposed changes but are angry that the government aimed to implement them without any consultation or negotiation with the unions. The unions have made a series of demands related to protecting basic pay and ensuring appropriate payments for on-call and overtime work as well as allowances for dangerous and arduous conditions. They are also seeking
A national demonstration by firefighters took place on 14 January as they continued their campaign against unilateral action by the government to change their employment conditions. This follows the strike that ran from 19 December to 2 January (see previous epsucob@NEWS). The unions involved argue that the proposed changes undermine career development in the fire service and retirement rights. They are particularly angry that the government has attempted to introduce the changes without any consultation or negotiation.
The STAL and STML unions representing firefighters organised a protest in Lisbon on 16 April outside the Interior Ministry. The main concerns for the unions are about government proposals to reform the career structure for firefighters and to reduce retirement benefits. Other issues relate to payments for oncall time, 12-hour shifts and implementation of a pay structure that the two unions negotiated with the ministry. The unions have been frustrated by the government's reluctance to negotiate, delaying and then postponing a meeting due on 2 April.