On 3 October unions in the DISK and KESK confederations organised a half-day work stoppage in the city of Izmir in western Turkey. The strike called for the reinstatement of workers who have been arbitrarily dismissed by the government in its continuing indiscriminate actions following the attempted coup in 2016. The unions also called for an increase in the minimum wage and for municipal workers to be treated the same as civil servants in relation to the government's recent legislation to end outsourcing.
Low pay/minimum wages
On 9 October the KTAMS civil service union organised a day of strike action in all workplaces in which it organises in protest at the sharply falling purchasing power of workers' pay. A steep decline in the Turkish Lira has led to much higher inflation, leaving the minimum wage effectively below the poverty level. The union wants to see legislation that will ensure the increasing cost of living is reflected in workers' pay on a monthly basis. During the day's strike action, KTAMS is organising a march to the parliament to present its proposals.
EPSU affiliate LAKRS organised a picket of the ministry of transport on 4 October calling for better pay and conditions and a collective agreement covering bus workers. The union wants to see a minimum wage of EUR 7 an hour for drivers and action to tackle the widespread problem of long working hours.
On 17 October the Labour Court in Nordhausen in central Germany ruled that two employees of the Celenus social care company had been unfairly dismissed for trade union activity and should be reinstated. Carmen Laue and Heike Schmidt, members of the ver.di service union, were summarily sacked in April for distributing leaflets as part of a long-running, and continuing campaign for better pay at Celenus which is part of the Orpea social care multinational. EPSU and its affiliates from France, Austria, Belgium, Italy and Spain that also organise in Orpea sent messages of support.
On 17 October, around 20000 trade union members from both private and public sectors marched through Kyiv city centre and blocked the government quarter. The main demands of the demonstration were for investment in industry for decent jobs, raise the minimum wage to help stop emigration, not to increase utilities prices, for the state budget to allocate the equivalent of 7% of GDP to education and 5% to healthcare, to urgently pay outstanding wages to more than 100,000 workers and to stop state’s takeover of trade union property and respect trade union rights.
The solidly supported two-day strike by around 8000 local government workers in Glasgow was successful in getting the council back to the negotiating table. The strike was over the council's failure to deal with longstanding demands for equal pay for a wide range of low-paid women workers in care, catering, cleaning, school support and other services. The strike on 23-24 October was called by the GMB and UNISON trade unions and UNISON now reports that initial talks with the council have been positive and constructive. EPSU, PSI and many affiliates sent messages of support.
The Fagforbundet public service union has revealed figures showing that care workers in the private sector in Oslo are between EUR 7000 and EUR 8700 worse off than those in the public sector. A starting salary for a graduate care worker in the public sector is NOK 367000 (EUR 38500), NOK 84000 more than the same worker in the private sector. Those on minimum wages in the sector are EUR 7000 better off if employed by the municipality. Fagforbundet also says that private sector workers are more likely to face heavier workloads as a result of understaffing. Fourteen of the 40 care homes in Oslo
The GPA-djp private services union has underlined the need for action in the care sector to address the quality and quantity of services and the pay and conditions of care workers, three quarters of whom are women. With demand increasing, particularly as a result of the ageing population, the union wants to see the federal government take responsibility to introduce national standards of care to end the variation between the regions and to increase funding to the sector to help address low pay and the widespread use of part-time work.
INMO, the nurses' and midwives' union, is balloting its members over strike action in protest at low pay and staffing shortages. If agreed, there will be 24-hour strike with proposals already to escalate this to two days of action in the following week if the government fails to respond. INMO says that for every four nursing vacancies there is only one application and that the health service is paying employment agencies EUR 10000 for every nurse or midwife they recruit. It underlines the importance of tackling this issue to ensure the safety of patients which is under threat as a result of
The ZSSS trade union confederation and Pergam public service federation have called a national demonstration in Ljubljana for 5 December with demands to protect and respect collective agreements, for higher pay and an increase in the minimum wage. In the meantime, negotiations continue over pay in the public sector. Three public sector unions look to have settled with the government but as many as 20 other unions are still considering the latest offer. If negotiations break down then the unions are expected to take strike action on 5 December.
On 20 November the government announced compulsory arbitration to end a dispute between the NSF nurses' union and the NHO private employers' organisation. The union had called a strategic strike of 55 nurses on 25 October to protest against the NHO agreement having lower minimum pay and sickness benefit rates compared to the agreement negotiated with municipal employers. NSF has found examples of nurses' annual salaries in NHO employers that are NOK 30000-100000 (EUR 3200-10000) lower than in the public sector. After three weeks of strike action the NHO imposed a lockout on all 501 NSF members
Tackling gender segregation, low pay and (un)equal opportunities through collective bargaining and inclusive public services
Low pay in female dominated sectors, gender-differences in precarious employment, uneven distribution of unpaid care work, persistent pay gap – what connects these issues is that they are all linked to and/or are reinforced by gender segregation on the labour market.
Both UNISON and the GMB, unions representing care workers, have condemned the ruling of the Court of Appeal on 13 July that care workers needn't be paid the minimum wage for the whole of the period when they are on a "sleep-in" shift. The ruling overturns an earlier judgement by the lower level Employment Appeal Tribunal that workers were entitled to at least the minimum wage for the whole "sleep-in" shift when they were on-call, even if they weren't working. The unions say this is an attack on a large group of low-paid workers whose work is already undervalued.