Three-year deal in public residential careNetherlands: National industrial action across hospitalsUK: National strike across central governmentGermany: Health workers join action in federal and local governmentFrance: Struggle against pension reforms continuesIreland: Nurses’ union could take action on safe staffing levelsLatvia: Union delivers higher pay increases for health workersEstonia: Call for carers to join union and push for collective agreementFinland: Two-year pay deals in municipalities, health, social care and churchesPortugal: Strike in private hospitals and across public servicesIsrael: Higher pay and shorter hours across public servicesSweden: Union wants to see collective agreements against sexual harassmentSpainThree-year deal in public residential careOn 3 March the FSS-CCOO and FeSP-UGT federations signed a new three-year collective agreement covering around 300,000 workers in the public residential care sector. The agreement runs until 31 December 2025 and was secured after negotiations lasting for almost five years. It includes salary increases of 4% this year and 2.5% in both 2024 and 2025. A salary update clause means that there could be additional adjustments depending on developments in inflation. There will an hours reduction calculated on an annual basis with an 8-hour cut in 2024 and a further cut of 12 hours in 2025. Improvements to paid time off as a result of workplace accidents or disease will mean that workers be paid for 180 days starting at 100% for the first 90 days, 95% for the next 30 days and 90% for the remaining 60 days.
NetherlandsNational industrial action across hospitalsThe FNV and NU’91 unions have called a national day of industrial action across the hospital sector on 16 March when only a Sunday service will be provided. The unions are demanding a 10% pay increase in response to the surge in the cost of living and as one measure to help deal with the staffing crisis. The NU’91 also is also organising a broader campaign on the crisis in care with a demonstration in Utrecht on 9 March where it encouraged everyone to wear black and then to back its “every Tuesday in black”campaign.
UKNational strike across central governmentThe PCS civil service union has been running a targeted campaign of industrial action to support its claim for higher pay and in defence of pensions and jobs. A nationwide action was organised on 1 March and then again on 15 March another national strike took place to coincide with the announcement of the government’s budget. The campaign of industrial action continues with various government agencies targeted with a series of one- and two-day strikes until the end of March. Meanwhile, some health service unions have suspended strike action during talks with the government over pay. However, anger over low pay has spread to junior doctors, members of the British Medical Association, who took part in an unprecedented three-day strike action on 15-17 March.
GermanyHealth workers join action in federal and local governmentHealth workers were involved in warning strikes across the country on 14 and 15 March as the ver.di trade union builds support for its negotiations covering 2.5 million workers in federal and local government. The union is seeking a pay rise of 10.5% with a minimum increase of €500 a month. There was also action by workers in early years education and other social services to coincide with International Women’s Day on 8 March.
France Czech RepublicStruggle against pension reforms continuesTrade unions, youth and student groups and many other organisations continue to campaign against the French government’s proposed pension changes, including the increase in the pension age from 62 to 64. The latest and seventh day of protests took place on 11 March and further demonstrations and strikes are planned across different sectors. All EPSU affiliates are involved across the main confederations and trade union organisations – CGT, CFDT, FO, UNSA and CFE-CGC. Meanwhile, trade unions in the Czech confederation CMKOS are concerned about the possibility of government changes that would see an increase in the pension age from 65 to 68 and they have already launched a petition to oppose the proposal.
IrelandNurses’ union could take action on safe staffing levelsThe INMO nurses’ union is to ballot intensive care unit nurses at University Hospital Limerick in pursuance of safe staffing, having exhausted local negotiations to resolve the problem. The union argues that the lack of consistent safe staffing is having a detrimental impact on the physical and mental wellbeing of workers and patients. This follows INMO’s executive council decision in February to sanction a campaign of industrial action in response to members reporting that unsafe staffing is the norm in many hospitals. The union has also called on the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive to produce a fully funded workforce plan.
EstoniaCall for carers to join union and push for collective agreementThe EAKL trade union confederation reports that the state wants to give additional pay to carers from July, which requires trade unions and employers to negotiate an agreement. Monthly pay in nursing homes varies from €725 to €1300 per month, depending on the region. EAKL says that trade unions want to negotiate a minimum wage for care workers in a sector collective agreement with a view to achieving the same level as that in the collective agreement for health workers where the minimum wage for care workers in health care institutions is set to reach €1160. With staff shortages reaching critical levels EAKL says that it would be a good time for unions to put pressure on employers. The confederation is encouraging workers to join the ROTAL state and local government workers’ union.
LatviaUnion delivers higher pay increases for health workersAfter lengthy negotiations the LVSADA health workers’ union has secured an increase to the pay rises offered by the ministry of health. The agreement stipulates that the average monthly salary for medical practitioners will be increased by €120 from 1 April which equates to 6.1%, that is 2.4% higher than the initial offer. Nurses, midwives, physician assistants will see a 10.1% increase (an improvement of 3.9% on the initial offer) and junior staff, including nursing assistants, will benefit from a 16.1% pay rise (an improvement of 6.3%).
FinlandTwo-year pay deals in municipalities, health, social care and churchesThe JHL, JYTY, SuPer and TEHY have negotiated new two-year agreements on pay covering workers in municipalities and health and welfare services. The agreements include both general and local elements to the pay increases. For municipal workers the combined increases will mean rises of 4.1% in 2023 (plus a €467 lump sum) and 4.0% in 2024. There will be higher increases for health workers who are set to benefit from various elements that go towards a 6.7% increase in 2023 (plus a €467 lump sum) and 6.5% in 2024. Meanwhile, negotiations involving JHL and JYTY will mean that church employees will get a 5% increase in 2023 and at least 2.5% in 2024 along with improvements to experience allowances and family leave.
PortugalStrike in private hospitals and across public servicesNurses in Portugal have been involved in strike action in both private and public sectors. The SEP trade union organised a one-day strike on 16 March over pay, hours and other conditions in the private sector and it joined a larger strike across public services on 17 March with similar demands and involving other public service trade unions, including STAL.
Israel Higher pay and shorter hours across public servicesAfter seven years with no update to the main public sector framework agreement the Histradut trade union organisation reports that negotiations have delivered a salary increase of 11% over the next four years up to April 2027 along with a lump sum of NIS 6,000 (€1575) designed to help cope with the cost of living. Workers will get a two-hour cut in working week from 42 to 41 hours in June 2023 and from 41 to 40 hours in January 2025. There will also be special salary adjustments for a range of occupations, particularly in health and social care. Meanwhile, the union has negotiated an agreement covering paramedics at the Assuta Hospital which provides for pay increases of 22% and an improvement in a range of employment conditions in line with the public sector agreement.
Sweden Union wants to see collective agreements against sexual harassmentA new survey by the Vision trade union shows that just over one in 10 social workers say they have suffered sexual harassment in the past year. The union is concerned that the relevant legislation is not being applied and wants to see local collective agreements with more effective measures to tackle the problem. The survey also found that one in seven women between the ages of 20 and 29 say they have been harassed in the past year by someone who is not a colleague. Vision says that local collective agreements can be negotiated to address all forms of harassment, including that by third-parties which is not covered in current discrimination legislation.