Tour of Europe – Public Services

By Louis Smyth –  Teaching Assistant and UNISON rep

“The bankers messed up the economy of most countries around the world. The solution appears the same – cut the public sector – Here are a few examples.”

Germany.-  for Public-sector workers get a 1.2 per cent pay rise backdated to January 2010

Germany’s 2 million public-sector workers will get a pay rise this year that is only slightly above the level of inflation, another sign that German unions are willing to be flexible to protect jobs.

Verdi, the services union, wanted a 5 per cent pay increase for workers employed by central government and towns but accepted a proposal for Public-sector workers are to get a 1.2 per cent pay rise backdated to January 2010, and then a 0.6 per cent rise at the start of 2011. A further 0.5 per cent rise in August 2011 a 2.3 per cent rise over 26 months.

Thomas Boehle, head of the municipalities’ employers’ (local authorities)  said the deal would cost towns €1.1bn this year and another €1.3bn in 2011. “The situation of municipal budgets is as bad as never before,” he warned. sound familiar?

Ireland – disruptive action seems inevitable

The Civil, Public and Services Union (CPSU), which represents 13,000 lower paid staff, general secretary Blair Horan warned that strikes are “likely”.

He gave notice of strike action “of indefinite or limited duration” and a four-week ban on overtime from  15th March. It has also threatened to immediately place pickets on any location if a member is removed from the payroll. This is against a 5pc pay cut inflicted on members earning in the main less than €30,000. CPSU assistant general secretary Theresa Dwyer said the approach showed the sense of outrage among workers. “Further combined and more disruptive action now seems inevitable,”.

Greece – huge amount of discontent

Public sector workers in Greece have all ready taken part in a national one day strike in protest s against the measures proposed to address the financial cricis casued by the bankers. The proposals include cuts in public sector pay and bonuses, and a freeze on hiring new employees and increasing the average retirement age from 61 to 63.

Portugal- Huge amount of discontent

Public-sector workers have Held a 24-hour strike in Portugal in the latest protest Trade unions representing more than 500,000 civil servants have joined forces for the first time in four years in a protest against a planned pay freeze, indirect tax increases and cuts in bonuses and pension benefits.

Portugal’s unions said that their members had suffered worsening conditions for years as public pensions and other benefits were cut by the minority Socialist government, which this year froze public-sector wages ..

Unions  say that public sector workers bear the brunt of belt-tightening every time the government overspends, pointing out that public-sector workers have suffered real wage cuts of up to 7 per cent since 1999.

The government has said it will present further cost-cutting measures later this month. It also plans to cut the amounts paid to civil servants who take early retirement.

General Confederation of Portuguese Workers general secretary Manuel Carvalho da Silva said: “There is a huge amount of discontent.”