EPSU Executive committee elects new vice-President, considers digitalisation and agrees joint day of action 23 June 2022

25 November EPSU Executive Committee photo action International Day for elimination of violence against women

(29 November 2021) Leaders of Europe’s public service unions joined on the world day to stop violence against women. On this day unions, women’s organisations, public institutions and many others (re-)commit to fight against all forms of gender based violence. With social partners we focused on the gender-based violence from third parties at the work place. With an increase in income inequalities in our societies and underfunded public services, public service workers, mostly women, experience this more frequent. We want therefore that the European Commission’s initiative for a directive on preventing and combating gender-based violence addresses third party violence at the workplace. This is a health and safety issue as well. We want to make sure that work places are safe, and also safe for victims of violence including domestic violence. EPSU issued a position with other trade union federations and employers.

We agreed to make 23 June 2022 into an action day for public services workers. 23 June is global public service day. We value the contribution of public service workers to our communities. For us we celebrate their work, and it is an action day to draw attention to the need for decent wages and better working conditions as well as sufficient staff and funding to deliver to the public. Public services help ensure people can enjoy their human rights. It is a day of resistance against privatisation and commercialisation of our public services. To get a taste of last year’s actions.

We were joined by Christina Colclough of The Why Not Lab and Annette Muhlberg-Knarr responsible for the Verdi Digitalisation project for a discussion on the impact of digital technologies on public services, workers and democracy. Christina introduced the work we are doing with PSI and the digital rights organisers. Unions have to take these new technologies and their impact serious, how they effect workplaces and for our internal work as unions. Ownership and management of data including of workers, of citizens, patients and users of public services is a key debate for us. This was confirmed by Annette who illustrated this with the work done in Verdi on the one hand and on the other hand by examples of how our municipalities and cities can be vulnerable to corporate take-overs through digital technologies. Unions have to be demanding from local and other public authorities insight in how digital technologies are used. They can deliver for the common good, for workers and strengthen democracy. That positive attitude should not make us blind for the serious damage possible if ran by corporations and when basic controls are absent. Annette referred to the cities for digital rights and the Berlin manifesto on public services.

Members elected a new vice-President by acclamation. Anatoliy Domnikov, the President of the Russian Health Works Trade Union thanked members for their support. He looked forward to work closely with the unions to promote the interests of public service workers. EPSU will propose Anatoliy to the PSI as vice-President. 

Our organising and recruitment team explained the progress with our work to promote recruiting and organising of workers in the union movement, and the plans for 2022. A large group of unions is engaged, has plans and the first results are showing with increases in membership. Members of the Executive fully supported this – with more, we are stronger and in a better position to realise workers’ demands and get the workers’ voice heard. Unions are encouraged to join the growing group of unions active in this work.

The Executive sent a message of solidarity to the Kosovo health workers trade union.  It went on strike 25 November. The union had sought a dialogue and negotiations with the ministry and employers over staffing issues, higher pay and better conditions. The strike is representative of the demands of health and care workers across Europe. EPSU supports the waste workers strike of Italian unions on 13 December and we will send a message of solidarity.

The Executive agreed:

  • The midterm budget
  • The budget for 2022
  • The mandate and members of the EPSU Finance Working Group which will meet in January 2022
  • Affiliation of Polish union in social insurance institutions (ZUS), Turkish union in health, and Hungarian union in health, social services and other areas of work.

It noted the great body of work that is going on in the Federation. Reports were received and discussed on:

  • The ETUC Midterm Conference, its priorities, the unity survey and amendments on the constitution including on youth representation that had the strong backing of EPSU
  • The Future of Europe Conference and ETUC’s influence
  • Health and Safety work in the Federation
  • The progress with the proposed directive on Adequate Minimum wages. The European Parliament has adopted its position and will start negotiations with the Council of Ministers.
  • Gender Pay Directive
  • Economic policy and the Economic Governance Review. New rules are needed to prevent coordinated austerity.
  • Sectoral reports on National and European Administration, Local and regional government, utilities, and health and social services.
  • Updates on the social dialogues and the implications of the Court case. We will discuss our views on the future of the social dialogue.
  • Women and Gender Equality Committee and the Youth Network. Several (webi)seminars will take place. Members congratulated Gloria Mills (Unison UK) with her election as President of the ETUC Women’s Committee and Paola with her elections as vice-president.
  • Amendments to the constitution of the PSI, the draft Programme of Action for the period 2023-2027, and the possible postponement of the Congress to 2023.

An important ongoing campaign of EPSU and PSI is to support the demand for a waiver of Intellectual Property Rights on vaccines so these can be produced (and more cheaply) in developing countries. Unions and allies are demanding support of the WTO organisation in an upcoming meeting 30 November. To join the campaign check out the information.

The Executive Committee took place online 24 and 25 November 2021. It was chaired by Mette Nord, the EPSU president.

For Why Not Lab of Christina Colcloug

For the positions of Verdi on Digitalisation and its digitalisation congresses which offer a wealth of information.

See Verdi seminar on Platforms as public services infrastructure supported by EPSU and the presentations available.

PSI project on digitalisation

Cities Coalition for Digital Rights

  • 25 November EPSU Executive Committee photo action International Day for elimination of violence against women
  • 25 November strike FSSHK Health Services workers, Kosovo
Belarus Poland