Members of four health unions in Northern Ireland - UNISON, RCN, NIPSA and Unite - have voted overwhelmingly to take industrial action, including strike action, to force the government to address pay inequality which leaves them the worst paid health employees in the UK. The unions also want urgent action to tackle staff shortages and to ensure safe and effective staffing levels.EPSU sent messages of solidarity. The unions are involved in a range of different actions but are planning a coordinated strike on 18 December.
After a 12-year wait the three unions in private health care - FP CGIL, CISL FP and UIL FPL - are making some progress in negotiating a new collective agreement with the employer organisations - AIOP and ARIS. Meetings at the end of November and beginning of December addressed issues related to weekly rest periods, training leave, disciplinary procedures and criteria for transferring workers to other jobs. Further meetings are planned for 10, 17 and 18 December with a focus on job classification, where there have been major changes over the long period since the last agreement was negotiated.
Health and social care unions were again joined by hospital campaigning groups in a major national mobilisation on 17 December, following earlier days of strikes and protests in October and November (see EPSU CB News No.22, November and No.19, October). The campaign is highlighting the catastrophic situation in many health institutions as a result of underfunding. The key demands include increased funding and recruitment, a general increase in salaries and an immediate block on closures of health facilities. The protests combined with the continuing mobilisation against planned pension reforms
Following industrial action and the first ever national hospital strike, trade unions have negotiated a new 27-month collective agreement that includes a 5% pay increase from 1 January 2020 and a further 3% from 1 January 2021. Around half of hospital employees work irregular hours and they will benefit from a new allowance which will add a further 2.5% to their pay. All employees will also get a EUR 1200 pro rata lump sum. The agreement includes higher pay for trainees and measures to improve work-life balance for those working on-call and additional shifts. The unions have also managed to
The public service federations of the CCOO confederation have called on the acting government to guarantee that the 2% pay increase, agreed as part of a three-year pay deal, will be paid on 1 January 2020 to all three million public sector workers. Formally a new government has yet to be confirmed and the acting public service minister is claiming that the increase cannot be confirmed but that it could be paid and backdated later in 2020. The union argues that the increase can be paid on the basis of a royal decree and say this needs to be done urgently as part of the union demands to win back
The Kommunal municipal and health services union has set out some of the main demands that it will pursue in the upcoming collective bargaining with municipal employers. The union will aim for a 3% general pay rise with an extra 0.5% to be used at local level for specific groups of vocationally trained workers in health, child and other care. It wants vocationally trained temporary workers to be offered a permanent contract after 12 months and is calling for a number of measures on working time. Among a range of demands, Kommunal wants to ensure full-time work is the norm and argues that the
Four health trade unions in Northern Ireland - UNISON, Unite, NIPSA and RCN - organised a day's strike action on 18 December to demand urgent action on pay inequality in the NHS. Health workers in Northern Ireland are the lowest paid in the UK and unions argue that pay parity will be a major factor in delivering safe staffing levels. EPSU sent a message of support. The unions are also planning or have organised other forms of industrial action as part of their campaign (see EPSU CB News 22 and 23).
A telephone hotline set up by the FNV public services union in early November was used by over 500 people, many of whom revealed disturbing information on the situation facing trainees in the care sector. There was evidence of trainees used effectively as full-time employees to cover for holidays and sickness, being required to carry out tasks on their own for which they had not been fully trained and having responsibility for other trainees and temporary workers. There were also indications of inadequate supervision and supervisors lacking time to provide adequate support. The FNV has
The vpod/ssp public services has welcomed two initiatives on working time agreed with the BSH health and social care employers' organisation in the Graubünden/Grisons region. The BSH has agreed to the demand for time taken to change into and out of work clothes to be recorded as working time. This is a key demand in a national campaign being run by the union. Ten minutes a day is allocated to changing clothes but this may be adjusted depending on the outcome of a legal case in the Zürich region. The vpod/ssp also welcomes the decision of BSH to recommend a minimum of 25 days' annual leave to
Over 100 healthcare trade unionists from across the country came together last month to discuss the staffing crisis in the sector. Neither the prime minister nor minister of health were able to take part but health ministry officials did attend and were taken to task over the government's failure to address the issue and its claims that there were too many hospital beds and too few patients. The trade unionists underlined the challenges of poor working conditions and pay that were contributing to recruitment difficulties and the continuing problem of emigration of trained workers.
A long-running dispute in hospitals in North West England has been resolved with pay rises for workers employed by the outsourcing company Compass. Before the deal, Compass employees were on the national minimum wage (£8.21 per hour/EUR 9.65), while colleagues employed directly by the NHS were earning at least £9.03 (EUR 10.60). This meant Compass workers were losing out to the tune of around £1,500 (EUR 1760) a year (see EPSU CB News August 2019, 15). The agreement negotiated by UNISON and overwhelmingly supported by the workers means they’ll now receive a significant pay rise, more money for
Industrial action by health workers in Northern Ireland (see EPSU Collective Bargaining News December 2019, 23 and 24) has been suspended as unions consult on a pay offer and initiative to deliver safe staffing. Both UNISON and Unite will recommend to their members to accept the offer which they say will deliver pay parity with the rest of the UK and provide funding to achieve safe staffing levels. It is not yet clear if the RCN will recommend acceptance. The fourth union in the dispute, NIPSA, will recommend to its members to reject the offer while also calling out its civil service