EPSU Executive Committee members support ETUC Pay Rise campaign 6-7 April 2017
(11 April 2017) Close to a hundred public service union leaders came together to discuss the priorities of EPSU until Congress. The European environment has changed since Congress with a more tense situation between the EU and Russia, the Brexit vote and the implications of the election of Trump on the EU and Europe. Our central issue remains the defense of trade union and workers’ rights. EPSU fights for the restoration of bargaining rights and an end to austerity policies and with the ETUC Pay Campaign we focus on increasing low pay such as in home and other care services. There will be a strong emphasis in our work on gender equality, standing up for women’s rights and mobilizing to close the gender pay gap on 8 March 2018. We adopted a resolution and our roadmap setting out our concerns and key demands regarding work-life balance for example and what we expect from the European Commission. A resolution on women’s rights, including the right to abortion and the need to invest in education and health care proposed by the French affiliates was adopted. EPSU will continue its work on tax to realise public country by country reporting. The European Parliament is addressing the growing concerns over tax avoidance and corruption. A new area of work for EPSU will be to get solid whistleblowers protection legislation. Preventing that trade agreements open up public services and are abused to reduce rights of workers will be another large area of work. Promoting a fair and progressive trade agenda is our objective here. Other areas of work:
- Our battle for climate justice and just transition. The European Commission will start work on the review of its Adaptation strategy. Public direct investment is the strategy to follow for Member States and the EU. Like in our overall work on economic governance, we seek to prevent it is abused to promote Public-Private Partnerships. These have negatives consequences for workers and users.
- Social policy. We expect the European Commission to publish is proposals for a Pillar of Social Rights soon. This will include proposals on work life balance, working time and access to social protection which we together with ETUC want to ensure provide substantial progress for worker.
- Economic semester. We are building a project to focus on the role of unions in the Annual Growth Survey, the National Reform plans and on the follow up to the Country specific recommendations. EPSU will be addressing the negative impact of commercialization, financialisation of public services. PPPs are a key issue here.
- Regarding the sectoral work the standing committees colleagues have discussed and updated their plans of actions. Health and safety, the impact of digitalization and the need for public investment are themes address by several sectors. We will continue to build our work for prison staff, firefighters, workers in the waste sector and in social services
- EPSU will organize a Youth Conference together with Verdi, 8-9 September in Berlin. We are seeking representatives for the EPSU youth network. Ensuring young workers join the unions by defending their interests, is a key challenge.
The Executive Committee had several exchanges on the situation in Turkey. We will be asking affiliates to contribute to a Solidarity Fund which will assist unions that are facing many court cases because of arrested, dismissed and suspended members. These cases are often without any proof. Workers are deprived of travel and a job in the public service for ever. The EPSU Executive Committee confirmed its support for the defense of workers’ rights and its solidarity with the unions facing repression. Anton Leppik, the executive director of PERC, the Pan-European Regional Council of the ITUC and ETUC spoke about the deteriorating situation regarding trade union rights in Turkey but also Kazakhstan and Belo-Russia and countries in the EU.
Members discussed the participation and involvement of EPSU in the ETUC pay raise campaign. We agreed to use Public Service Day to make our message clear that Public Service Workers deserve a pay increase, 23 June 2017. ETUC will be joining our action. Members showed their support. (PICTURE
The next PSI Congress takes place 31 October -3 November 2017 in Geneva. It will adopt a Programme of Action, amendments to the statutes and elect the leadership of the organization. The EPSU Executive discussed the Programme and various amendments which have been made. It approved the amendments to the constitution. Thomas Kattnig, Younion, Austria and Mette Nord, Fagforbundet, Norway are proposed to become PSI-Vice-presidents until congress. They replace Isolde and Jarkko Eloranta. He has become president of Finnish confederation SAK.
The Executive Committee with a large majority adopted a proposal from the EPSU Finance working group for a small increase in the affiliation fees for 2018 and for 2019 recognising the difficult economic situation many workers and unions face. The Executive Committee recognizes the role of EPSU in addressing our issues at European level and the need to have a financially solid organisation. The Report of Activities and the final Finance report 2016 were approved.
We welcomed the Serbian trade union of workers in public administration, judiciary and police of Nezavisnost as member.
The Executive adopted a statement on the poison gas attacks 4 April and US retaliation 6 April in Syria. We condemn such violence. Public services like schools and hospitals have been hit. All parties have to respect international public law. This includes the prohibition to use chemical weapons. Those who commit war crimes should face trial. European countries can do more to push for a ceasefire and assist by ending the conflict through political means.
Members participated in a photo action for right to health care for all. We underlined the importance for public services workers to fight the commercialization and privatization of health and care services on the occasion of World Health Day 7 April 2017. EPSU joined a demonstration of Belgian unions and many NGOs and a European network against commercialization of care
The EPSU Executive Committee took place 6-7 April 2017, Brussels. The meeting was chaired by President Isolde Kunkel-Weber. The next meeting will be 29th October 2017 (Geneva, in preparation for the PSI Congress) and 28-29 November, Brussels.
Adopted documents are available here (pending translations)