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Remember the folks that brought you the weekend ? UNIONS

(4 February 2016) When I worked in AbvaKabo a colleague of the US union AFSCME gave me a dark blue t-shirt. It said: “Remember the folks that brought you the weekend ? UNIONS.” This is just one example of what unions have achieved over the years. Many hard won rights have been accomplished – and the fight lives on. To underline what unions do, next week UK unions will hold a week of action (8-14 February). The successes of workers and unions have been reached through struggle with employers (...)

The Right to Strike and the Pillar of Social Rights

(18 January 2016) We finished last year in high spirits. EPSU signed a landmark agreement on information and consultation rights for central government administrations with the employers at the end of December. This is quite an achievement! We now request that the European Commission transpose this into a binding agreement, with immediate effect. And the new year has already started well. We had a meeting last week with European Commissioner for Health, Mr. Andriukaitis, who gave a strong (...)

Optimism for the new year

(18 December 2015) It has been a difficult year for many public service workers. The initial optimism of the Syriza election victory in Greece has being crushed, ground down by the troika’s austerity machine. Greek workers continue to fight the measures that result in Job cuts, pay freezes, attacks on pensions and privatisation of public assets. Meanwhile, Finnish workers mobilised against their new government’s proposals to "improve" competitiveness. The unions oppose the plans to cut leave (...)


(25 November 2015) You might call it ironic, if it was not so sad and disturbing. Early last week, following a meeting on psychosocial stress, EPSU staff and the visiting expert had to remain in our office building because of a bomb alert just across the street. It turned out to be a false alarm but shows the stress, anxiety and concern that are among the consequences of the despicable and barbaric acts of13 November in Paris. Last weekend and throughout Monday and Tuesday there was high (...)

Democracy questioned

(30/10/2015) The European Union is rich in political drama these days. Some of it you could not make up. The Portuguese President Cavasco Silva has nominated Passos Coelho to form a government. But Coelho and his allies do not have a majority in the Portuguese parliament. The progressive parties are in negotiations to form a new coalition government. But the Portuguese parliament is not allowed to have "dangerous" experiments. Austerity and structural reforms need to be imposed on the (...)

European Trade Union Solidarity for Quality Jobs, Workers’ Rights and a Fair Society

(5 October 2015) On Monday 21 September I joined many trade unionists and young members from our German affiliate ver.di in Leipzig in a protest against a demonstration by the anti-Islamic Legida group. Legida is the local variant of the Pegida group that is spreading Islamaphobic propaganda across Germany. They promote their agenda of discrimination and hatred against other people with refugees now their main target. I had to think of the people in the Legida group when listening to a (...)

You did it - victory for Right2Water in European Parliament

(9 September 2015) Yesterday (8 September) the European Parliament adopted its report on the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) Right2Water. This is a proud moment for us and the thousands of you who were active in the run up to the vote. This is a significant victory as you were able to convince enough MEPs to reject an alternative resolution from the European People’s Party and the European Conservatives and Reformists, normally a solid enough group to block progressive moves in the (...)

Eurogroup pushing Greece over the brink to force Grexit ?

(16 July 2015) European trade unions are calling for an end to austerity in Greece. Together with many other European trade union colleagues I signed an open letter from the ETUC. We have asked the heads of governments to come forward with a deal that respects the wish of the Greek people to end austerity. We also call for debt relief. It is increasingly clear that without such relief prospects for economic growth are limited. And combined with further cuts in public spending in public (...)

Vote on Right2Water in European Parliament showed cross-party support

(25 June 2015) While bicycling to a meeting with European Commission Vice-president Sefkovic to discuss the European Energy Union I recalled our meeting on the European Citizens Initiative Right2Water on 17 February last year and the publication of the Commission response in March. Today, a year later, the discussion has moved to the European Parliament. The Irish MEP Lynn Boylan has done a good job to reflect the demands of the ECI in her report. Close to 250 amendments have been (...)

Stop this austerity madness - let’s use Global Public Service Day 23 June to get our message across !

(17 June 2015) Some newspapers and government leaders seem to have gone mad over Greece. I get the impression they want to kick the Greek government out of office and the Greek people further into poverty. This week will see more drama as the European Central Bank and the Eurozone group of countries meet to consider the reforms they want to push on Greece. The Greek government is under considerable pressure to agree a new package of austerity measures including cuts in pensions and further (...)

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