EPSU affiliates actively rallied on the European Action Day of 29 February: Enough is enough!
(6 March 2012) On 29 February, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) called for a European day of action to say that ‘enough is enough’. Trade unions in some 30 countries followed the call. The message was: there is an alternative to the austerity policy obsessively pursued by European Institutions. The ETUC is ringing the alarm bell in view of the gravity of the social situation in Europe. According to the latest Eurostat estimates, 24,325 million men and women are unemployed. 115 million citizens – that is one person in four – are under threat of poverty and social exclusion. Inequalities are becoming more entrenched and the feeling of injustice is growing. The situation for young people is disastrous.
With the decisions of the European Council in early March, Europe’s leaders are set to institutionalise austerity through the Fiscal Compact with sanctions for those countries failing to abide to budgetary orthodoxy. Together with the ETUC, we oppose this approach. This was also the reason for EPSU to join forces with the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) in an urgent call on European governments and EU institutions to address inequality and to promote inclusive growth rather than slashing public services, social security systems and commit to the delivery of Europe 2020 targets. Cutting public expenditure at a time of recession is squeezing growth and increasing unemployment. The price that is being paid by workers and low-income households, particularly in bail-out countries is unacceptable. Not only are minimum wages cut with 20% in Greece but also unemployment benefits are lowered throwing many people into poverty. Our members report that economic and social cohesion is structurally undermined in their countries with nationalism gaining more supporters and racism being openly expressed. Meanwhile, corporate profits have reached pre-crisis records and are funneled into dividends rather than productive investment.
There are a number of other important policy issues in the pipeline at the moment, ranging from the ongoing negotiations on the working time directive, the White Paper on pensions to the Green Paper on anticipating change and restructuring. The revision of the public procurement framework is key. It is crucial that this revision does not pave the way for further privatization and social dumping. Again we think it is important to reach out to other organisations in order to maximize our input. For this reasons EPSU promotes and steers the Network for sustainable development in public procurement. We also met with the European Parliaments’ main rapporteur for the revision of the directive, Belgian Socialist Marc Tarabella, on 5 March. We will be in touch also with MEPs of other political groupings to get our message across, in particular to ward off any obligation to contract out services.
Today EPSU, co-organised a hearing at the European Parliament on the European Year on Water. In less than a month we will be launching the first European Citizens Initiative on water. We want the European Union to recognize access to water and sanitation as a fundamental human right.