(9 December 2020) The impact of the pandemic on health and social services workers is huge. The measures to contain the spread of the virus create havoc on the wider economy, on jobs, on young workers and youth, on low income households and so on. The EPSU Executive Committee looked at ways to get out of the economic and social crisis. The public investments and the EU level Recovery and Resilience Fund that are to assist in stimulating economic growth can be used as an opportunity to move to a better, a socially more just and environmentally sustainable society with quality public services. The decisions taken over the next few months by national governments and EU institutions will have a massive impact on public services and public finances and it will be vital for EPSU and its national affiliates to have a clear message on what needs to be done. The EPSU document sets out the key areas of action as well as the more challenging areas of policy, particularly in regard to public finances, where potentially new approaches are needed. We want:
- to improve the organisation and funding of public health and social services to deliver on the human right for health and care;
- to increase the funding of and investment in public services in general to contribute to a socially just society;
- to ensure the funding of the recovery and use of funds are in line with the Green and Social Deal and conditionalities related to collective bargaining and tax compliance;
- stable public finances in the longer term based on tax justice;
- the strengthening of collective bargaining and social dialogue and the rights of public service workers and trade unions;
- to address new ways of working;
- to work for proposals for a reset for the Eurozone, European Union and the broader Europe;
Our communications work and our actions will need further development to be visible.
The Executive Committee agreed to make 23 June 2021 a joint action day to celebrate the work of public service workers during the pandemic. It is a day of resistance to austerity and to the commercialization of public services. And a day of action for better pay and conditions, for improved public services and to return services into public ownership (remunicipalisation). We aim to make our joint work as public services trade unions visible. We expect 7 April Global Health Day to be another day of action for health workers.
ETUC Deputy General Secretary Pelle Hilmersson joined the Executive Committee to discuss the work of the ETUC on occupational health and safety. There are several issues that are important for public services workers including getting COVID19 recognised as an occupational disease. Others include Stress at work, Zero-accidents and zero cancers at work, updates of the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive to protect more workers, addressing muscular-skeletal disorders and the need for a new and ambitious EU Health and Safety Strategy. Members stressed the importance of taking account of new information and gender mainstreaming like the higher risks of breast cancer for women in night shifts in health care.
EPSU staff responsible for Organising and recruitment presented the strategy and possibilities for assistance available. The work will be rolled-out with a series of seminars for interested affiliates. Unions are encouraged to contact EPSU and join the crucial work to increase our membership and develop the power to influence employers and governments to improve pay and conditions. Several members underlined how crucial this work is for EPSU and unions.
Updates were given on the sectoral work of EPSU in the different sectors of National and European administration including on the prison services network, Local and Regional government and the firefighters group, utilities and the joint statement on just transition with the gas employers, and the health and social services including the successful action on the 29th October. The Executive Committee thanked Luca Scarpiello for his work and welcomed Adam Rogalewski, the new officer for health and social services starting in January. Updates were given on the work of the Women’s and Gender Equality Committee including on 25 November (Stopping violence against women) and for next year’s 8 March and for the Youth network activities including work focused on mental health of young workers in these Corona times. Members were updated on the social services work in EPSU and the preparations for a social dialogue.
The Executive was further informed of the ongoing work by ETUC on the Directive on Adequate Minimum Wages and received a briefing on the Green Deal, Climate Law, Circular Economy and forth-coming Adaptation Strategy.
Other positions adopted:
- The union leaders expressed their support for the strike of the Italian public service workers on 9 December. The demands for more funding for the public service, for more staff and better pay and conditions are recognized by us all.
- Members were outspoken in their critique of the French multinational company ORPEA. Its policies to block the information and consultation rights of workers by frustrating the establishment of a European Works Council were condemned.
- The midterm budget and forecast for 2020 and the draft budget for 2021 including the priorities were approved. Gender equality and mainstreaming is important for EPSU and an extra meeting of the EPSU Women’s and Gender Equality Committee was proposed and will be included in the work of EPSU for 2021.
It noted the position adopted by the PSI Board on the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia calling for negotiations to solve the conflict and to find longterm and peaceful solutions. PSI’s General Secretary updated the Executive Committee on the work in the PSI and the priorities adopted at the PSI Board in November.
We welcome two new unions – the Maltese Union of Water Services Corporation Professionals (UWSCP), member of the Forum Unions Maltin (FOR.U.M.), and the Autonomous Trade Union of Pre-school Upbringing and Education (SSPVIOS), member of the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia (CATUS). We look forward to work with them.
The EPSU Executive Committee took place online 24 and 25th November 2020. It was chaired by our President Mette Nord.