The FNV and NU’91 trade unions have rejected what the NVZ hospital employers have suddenly claimed is their final offer in the negotiations covering 200,000 health service workers. The offer is for a pay rise of 13% over two years but implemented as 5% in February 2023, 5% in December 2023 and 3% in September 2024. This not only falls below the unions’ call for an immediate 10% increase but FNV and NU’91 also strongly reject the employers’ proposals on allowances related to travel and short-notice shift changes. Members will be consulted over the offer and possible action in response
Strikes and industrial action
The right to strike is fundamental for trade unions. Although strikes and industrial action are the weapons of last resort, it is crucial that trade unions can use them in the fight to defend workers' rights and get a fair deal from employers. The challenge for many unions, particularly those in the public sector, is that the right to strike is restricted or even completely denied. Information on the right to strike in the public sector is available in 48 country factsheets that cover the main rules and include information on cases that trade unions have taken to the International Labour Organisation and Council of Europe.
Members of the FBU firefighters’ union have voted overwhelming for strike action and the union has given the government 10 days to respond before setting any strike dates. This means firefighters will join the widespread actions across the UK involving central government workers, nurses and ambulance staff along with education and rail workers. The PCS civil service union organised a national strike on 1 February and further targeted action is planned for later in the month. The TUC confederation also organised protests around the country on 1 February in protest at the government plans for
The Fórsa trade union is planning to ballot its members in non-profit health and social care over a proposal for indefinite strike action. Along with other unions, SIPTU and INMO, Fórsa has been involved in a long-running campaign to secure pay increases for workers in the sector where pay has fallen behind public sector pay. Despite several years of targeted industrial action the government has failed to address the problem and the unions argue that this is unfair as many workers in the sector are doing the same work and delivering the same services as in the public sector. They also warn
Thousands of employees of the Waadt/Vaud regional government are involved in strikes and protests in response to the employer’s offer of a pay increase of only 1.4%, one of the lowest offered across the whole of the country. The day of action on 31 January was supported by even more workers than the first one on 23 January and the next strikes and protests are set for 9 February. The president of the regional council has attacked the trade unions and is so far refusing to negotiate.
The European Trade Union Federations (ETUFs) representing tens of millions of workers across all countries and sectors in the EU and beyond in Europe strongly condemn the UK government’s draft legislation on minimum service.
The UK trade union movement has been angered by the government’s rushed draft legislation to impose minimum service levels on public service strikers. The government claims it is bringing the UK into line with countries like Italy and Spain but fails to acknowledge the different systems in those countries that guarantee the right to strike and impose no requirements on balloting for industrial action. The UK legislation, if passed, would not ensure that trade unions can negotiate minimum service levels and would allow employers to dismiss workers who failed to comply with the requirement to
The FNV trade will launch a campaign of industrial action across local government on 24 January in response to the employers’ failure to come up with an improved pay offer. The union is looking for an increase of 12% and general compensation for inflation but the employers offered only an increase of 5% in February 2023 and 3% in April 2024. The action will begin with a two-day stoppage by waste workers in Almere near to Amsterdam. Action will also follow in Tilburg and Rotterdam and at the end of the month in Amsterdam. The collective agreement in the sector covers around 187000 workers.
With the government refusing to negotiate on pay, health and other public service workers are set to continue their campaigns of industrial action into the new year. The RCN nursing union has announced two further strikes days (18-19 January) following its historic first national strike action in December. Unions representing ambulance workers (UNISON, Unite and GMB) will also take further action in England (11 and 23 January) and could be joined by colleagues in Wales who have just voted to take action. Meanwhile central government union PCS has a timetable for more targeted action across
Members of the STAL trade union employed by two waste companies – the private FCC Environment and municipally-owned RdN – took strike action between Christmas and the new year. Workers in both companies are seeking a 10% pay rise with a minimum monthly increase of €100 and minimum wage of €850 a month. In addition, the main claim at RdN is for all workers on temporary contracts to be made permanent.