Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

Europe Strike campaign by German public sector workers

Last week, German public sector workers began a series of short strikes in a campaign to win a 4.8 percent pay rise. Those taking part include hospital, childcare and drainage workers. A further round of talks between employers and the Verdi union are scheduled for October 23 and 24. Strike of bus drivers in Norway ends

A bus drivers in Norway ended at noon on Thursday after being called off by the four transport unions. On September 21, 3,800 bus drivers in the Oslo and Viken areas walked out. They were joined on September 26 by an additional 4,500 drivers covering most of the country.

The drivers were protesting split shift arrangements and safety provision, as well as demanding a wage increase. According to the lifeinnorway news website the employers offered a one krone ($0.11) an hour increase on the original pay offer for this year, and 2.5 kroner ($.27) next year. Former Irish Debenhams staff occupy closed store

Six former staff at the Waterford branch of Debenhams in southeast Ireland occupied the closed store and asked for their picket line to be honoured. The Mandate union members called on liquidator KPMG not to employ non-union staff to work as packers to box up and remove goods from the store. They are seeking enhanced redundancy terms.

The UK-based retail chain Debenhams employed around 1,000 staff throughout its 11 stores in Ireland. The former employees are protesting against the redundancy terms, set at the statutory minimum of two weeks’ pay per year of service with a €600 a week cap. This amounts to around €10–11 million for the entire workforce. They are seeking an additional €10–11 million. They have rejected an additional €1 million offer put forward by the liquidator KPMG.

On top of closures and 4,000 job losses announced earlier in the year, the company announced a further 2,500 job losses last month in the UK with the closure of department stores and distribution centres. There have been protests every Saturday by USDAW members and supporters outside the Manchester store.

High street stores began shedding jobs before the pandemic due to competition from online retailers. They have been particularly hard hit since lockdown. The unions have limited action to protests, calls for no compulsory redundancies or better redundancy terms and pleas for talks with the company. Irish health staff to be balloted for industrial action


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