Factbox-Strikes, protests in Europe over cost of living and pay
(Reuters) – European countries are facing strikes and protests due to high energy prices and mounting costs of living. Here are details of some recent and current industrial actions and demonstrations.
* Thousands of British railway workers will stage further strikes over the next two months in a long-running dispute over pay, the RMT union said on Nov. 22, signalling travel disruption before and after the Christmas holiday period.
* Hundreds of workers at British security company G4S have voted to strike for 48 hours in early December in a dispute over pay, trade union GMB said on Nov. 22, warning the walk out could cause cash shortages over the Christmas period.
* Exxon Mobil said on Nov. 21 its 390,000 barrel per day (bpd) Fawley oil refinery in southern England was unaffected by strike action. GMB Union workers had voted to strike on Nov. 21 to Dec 2. over pay.
* Thousands of British civil servants are planning for one month of “sustained industrial action” through the winter in an ongoing pay dispute, the Public and Commercial Services union said on Nov. 18, after the biggest strike vote in its history.
* Postal workers at Royal Mail will strike for six days in the run-up to the busy Christmas period in a dispute over pay and conditions. Workers will also strike on Black Friday.
* Tesco, one of Britain’s largest private-sector employers, is offering its staff advances on their pay in the latest sign of the distress arising from a worsening cost-of-living crisis. Some 280,000 of the supermarket chain’s workers will be able to receive up to 25% of their contractual pay early if they pay a small fee.
* Outsourcing firm Mitie offered its lower-paid workers a support package totalling 10 million pounds ($12 million), including one-off bonuses, retail discounts and options to borrow money against future pay.
* Trade union Unite said more than 700 workers at Bakkavor’s food manufacturing factory in Lincolnshire will strike from late November until new year over pay, which the union said would hit Christmas food supplies to supermarkets Sainsbury, Tesco and Marks and Spencer.
* Pay awards by British employers held at a 30-year high of 4% in the three months to October, well below annual inflation of more than 11%, data from human resources company XpertHR showed.
* Volkswagen agreed on Nov. 23 a two-year wage deal for around 125,000 workers at its western German factories, offering around 8.5% more pay, which was below inflation but above what other employers have yielded in recent weeks.
* Germany’s largest trade union agreed on Nov. 18 a below-inflation pay deal in a powerhouse region, setting the benchmark for 3.9 million metal and electrical sector workers nationwide.
The accord, which comes after the IG Metall union called for an 8% pay rise, would have been considered exceptionally generous until recently but is now below inflation, which was 11.6% last month in Germany, Europe’s largest economy.
* Trade union Verdi said on Nov. 18 it had reached a wage agreement with energy company RWE for its roughly 18,000 employees that includes one-off 3,000 euro payments and an increase in salaries of at least 6% from Feb. 1.
* Lufthansa and the UFO union have reached an agreement to increase the salaries of 19,000 cabin crew members, the German flagship airline said.
* German carmaker Audi is in favour of offering employees one-off tax-free payments instead of permanent wage increases, its human resources director said.
* BP said on Nov. 22 that the planned restart of its large refinery in Rotterdam after it was closed due to a technical problem was on hold after unions said they would not help with the return to service due to a pay dispute.
* The UNAC and SNGAF trade unions said they were calling for strike action over work conditions at Air France during the Christmas holidays from Dec. 22 to Jan. 2.
* Around 45% of France’s oil refining capacity remained offline on Nov. 2 following strike action last month, but supply was set to improve, with one major refinery back on stream and another due to return to full capacity by the end of the week.
* France’s EDF said on Oct. 27 it had formally signed a wage agreement for its workers in the country with all unions present at the company.
* Thousands of Spaniards packed Madrid’s landmark Plaza Mayor square on Nov. 3 to demand higher pay, in the country’s first mass protest since the start of the cost of living crisis.
* Workers at Azul Handling, the ground handling company servicing Ryanair in 22 Spanish airports, called off a plan to hold several 24-hour strikes between Oct. 28 and Jan. 8 to demand better working conditions, union USO said on Oct. 28.
* A group representing some of Spain’s truck drivers said on Nov. 15 it was suspending an indefinite strike a day after it started, claiming its members had suffered a “relentless harassment campaign” from some officials, rival unions and media outlets.
Hundreds of truck drivers belonging to the unofficial Platform for the Defence of Transport, who brought Spain to a halt earlier this year, had begun a new strike on Nov. 14, demanding changes to road freight rules and protesting the cost of living.
* A union group representing shop assistants at fashion retailer Zara has called a two-day strike over pay during the “Black Friday” sales on Nov. 24 and Nov. 25 in stores in the company’s home town of A Coruna in northern Spain.
Regional union group CIG, which is also planning protests near Zara owner Inditex’s global headquarters in Arteixo, wants an increase of 500 euros a month by 2025.
* Thousands of Portugal’s doctors, nurses, teachers and civil servants walked off the job on Nov. 18 to demand wage increases amid rampant inflation, challenging the majority Socialist government a week before a final vote on the 2023 budget.
* Workers at Volkswagen’s Autoeuropa car plant – one of Portugal’s top exporters – will go on strike in the first two hours of each of the four shifts on Nov. 17 and 18 to demand an extraordinary pay rise due to galloping inflation.
Austrian metal workers secured on Nov. 4 an annual pay rise of more than 7% on average, above the 6.3% inflation rate for the negotiating period. The negotiations are seen as a bellwether for other sectors in Austria, which has a strong tradition of collective bargaining and annual negotiated pay increases that generally avert the threat of strikes.
(Compiled by Toby Chopra and Catherine Evans)