Austerity policies are throwing Europe back from the path towards sustainable development say EPSU utility unions

(1 October 2012) The pervasiveness of the EU austerity programmes was a theme that came back in many discussions of the EPSU utility unions, on 27 September. In water, waste, energy unions noted the lack of investment in forward looking and in progressive solutions that improve the quality of public services. Governments are reducing public spending in programmes that promote renewables, [protect the environment->art8811] or improve networks amongst others. An important driver for growth is undermined. Unions reported on the impact on companies and jobs. A consequence is also that outsourcing and subcontracting increase. Unions supported the ETUC’s proposals for an alternative through the [social compact->art8785]. ETUC’s Judith KIrton-Darling presented the ongoing work of ETUC on addressing Climate Change in Rio+20 and in the lead up to the Qatar Climate Conference later this year. She recalled the disappointment of the trade unions in that there were no concrete commitments for action in Rio. And this despite the fact that it becomes ever clearer that we have reached the boundaries of the caring capacity of the Earth. ETUC is working with the [Spring Alliance->http://springalliance.eu/] to jointly with other organisations address how a just transition agenda can be developed and pursued. For the trade unions this implies investment in job creation, training, respect for trade union rights and decent work, participatory approaches and negotiations as well as social protection when economic restructuring effect workers and citizens. This is part of the proposals of ETUC for an alternative policy agenda to the austerity Europe being forced upon Europe’s populations. She also addressed the work of the ETUC in the [Resource Efficiency Platform->http://ec.europa.eu/environment/resource_efficiency/re_platform/index_en.htm]. Members criticized the lack of participation of public companies and local and regional authorities as these interests are represented by private businesses, a situation which is not acceptable. For EPSU it is important that not only mitigation is addressed but also investment in adaptation to climate change as global temperatures will be rising with at least 2 degrees towards the end of the centuries (and recent science even indicates there is large chance it will be 3-4 degrees) Members further reflected on the European Citizens Initiative for the [Human Right for water->http://www.right2water.eu/]. In several countries activities are getting underway to collect signatures on line and on paper.
Issues on the agenda of the committee included: - Public Procurement – the importance of progress on social and environmental criteria was underlined. Members also considered the Posted Workers and Enforcement Directives as well as the [Monti II Regulation->http://www.epsu.org/a/8951]. The European Commission should support the ETUC’s Social Progress Protocol to ensure fundamental social rights including the right to strike are not encroached upon by economic freedoms. Workers are not a commodity and corporations are not citizens. - [PSI Congress->http://congress.world-psi.org/documents], Members underlined that as regards Climate Change the Just transition approach needs to be developed further and that work place issues such as the restructuring resulting from Climate action are to be addressed. While caution is important in the dealings of PSI with transnational companies, we need to defend our members interests in these companies and transnational company agreements based on clear mandates and procedures are a way of doing so. A utilities workshop will be organized 25th November. - [Social Dialogue in Electricity->http://www.epsu.org/r/99]. Major issues include the work on mapping of skills and competences and future labour markets trends, nuclear safety (consultation with commission) the framework of actions on training, nuclear safety (consultation by the European Commission) and Corporate Social Responsibility. The work of the EPSU delegation was approved. - Gas social dialogue->http://www.epsu.org/r/98]. It was agreed that EPSU is to intervene is the gas companies do not continue their engagement in the social dialogue as walk away from their social responsibility. - Collective Bargaining. An overview of recent developments was presented (see document attached below). Richard Pond also presented the results of the survey on the evaluation on the social dialogue. It gives an indication of the importance unions attached to the social dialogue, the priority issues they would like to be tackled and the role of the social dialogue. Major concerns are the lack of implementation and the lack of participation of employers in the social dialogue committees. Responses to the [survey->http://www.epsu.org/a/8615] are still welcome. - Energy Policy Issues covered by the Committee included the Energy Roadmap 2050 and the amendments considered in the European Parliament, the Energy efficiency directive and its potential impact on jobs, nuclear safety, [South East European Community and social dimension->www.epsu.org/r/239] - Water Policy. An overview of recent policy developments was given including the Blue Print for water. Members agreed that EPSU could support the [Charter for Decentralised Solidarity Mechanisms for Water and Sanitation of the UNDP. ->http://web.undp.org/geneva/watersolidarity/charter/] - Waste Policy No progress was reported on the social dialogue in the sector - Collective Bargaining members considered briefly developments in a number of transnational companies such as EON and ENEL. They also reflected on the Staff Working paper of the commission on [Transnational company agreements->http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?langId=en&catId=157&newsId=1652&furtherNews=yes] EPSU will work with the ETUC to prepare a reaction. Members had a first reflection on the issues to be considered for the utilities concerning Congress EPSU 2014. A list of energy, water and waste related issues on which EPSU could develop further policy was presented. An updated of the Action Plan and short analysis is foreseen for the next meeting allowing focus on main priorities over the next Congress period and how to employ resources. Committee members also waved out Sven Bergelin, Verdi, Germany as president of the committee. Sven will engage in new assignments in his union. He was thanked for his contributions to EPSU. His work has assisted to develop the work of the Federation and make it a main voice for energy, waste and water workers in Europe. Forthcoming meetings: - 15-16 October – [EPSU-ETUI conference on From (un-)economic growth to future well-being->(http://www.epsu.org/a/8685] - 15 November – [Joint Social partner Conference workshop on the Future of Jobs and Skills in Electricity->art8856], Brussels - 16 November – Plenary of the social dialogue committee electricity - 19 November – [Joint Social partner Conference workshop on the Future of Jobs and Skill in Gas->art8855], Brussels - 20 November – Plenary social dialogue committee gas - 13-14 December – [EPSU Collective Bargaining Conference, Brussels->http://www.epsu.org/a/8265] The next meeting of the EWC Coordinators Group and the Standing Committee is foreseen for the week of 26-28 February 2013. The 37th meeting of the Standing Committee on public utilities took place 27 September 2012, Luxembourg. It was chaired by Janne Ruden, SEKO, Sweden. Colleagues participated from Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden. The EPSU Deputy General Secretary and Jerry van den Berge and Richard Pond made several presentations. For the documents (affiliated only) please look at [www.epsu.org/r/149->http://www.epsu.org/r/149] and for a [report on the previous meeting->http://www.epsu.org/a/8568]. - Collective bargaining, overview of recent developments
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