Essential workers denied essential trade union rights

EPSU EUROCOP EUROMIL Trade Union rights project

EPSU, EUROMIL and EuroCOP join forces to defend trade union rights to the Council of Europe

(Press release, Brussels, 1st July 2022)  On Friday, 1 July the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), the European Confederation of Police (EuroCOP) and the European Organisation of Military Associations and Trade Unions (EUROMIL) submitted a report on violations of trade union rights to the Council of Europe’s European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR). Together these trade union federations represent millions of public workers, such as nurses, social carers, prison, probation officers, firefighters, police officers, soldiers, tax, labour inspectors.

In many European countries public workers deemed essential to fight the Covid-19 pandemic continue to be denied essential trade union rights to defend better pay and working conditions. The protection and extension of the basic trade union rights to organise, negotiate and take collective action, as well as an even application of EU social minimum standards to all public services workers, are shared concerns for all three trade union federations.

As part of a two-year European Commission-funded project, the federations have commissioned a team of academics led by Alexander de Becker of the University of Ghent to draft a report on common issues and trends across Europe. The report provides a good basis for the ECSR to examine the situation in greater depth by holding further exchanges with the federations and their members.

It also exposes the inconsistency of approaches between countries. If civil servants and public service workers in the Nordic countries, Belgium and the Netherlands - for example - can organise, negotiate (including on pay) and take collective action, why not in the Baltic states, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria or Turkey? If the police services in Scandinavia can organise, negotiate and take (restricted) collective action, then why not in Ireland and Malta? And if military personnel in the Nordic countries, the Netherlands, Belgium and even Hungary, among others, can organise, negotiate and take (restricted) collective action, why not in the Baltic states, Bulgaria, Romania, Italy, Spain and Portugal?

For the federations, the broadest possible rights must be afforded across all public services in Europe. Any unjustifiable limits on those rights pose a threat to all our unions and professional associations. The denial of trade union rights to large numbers of public service workers can be used to restrict rights where they already exist or deny rights where they might be claimed.

The joint cooperation between the federations will continue with the preparations of a final conference in Skopje on 22 September, which the ECSR has been invited to take part in.

The Ghent University report to the ECSR is available in EN here

Reports of the project regional meetings are available in EN here

For more information please contact Pablo Sanchez, EPSU psanchez@espu.org 0032 (0) 474626633

EUROCOP - The European Confederation of Police is the umbrella organisation for police unions and staff organisations in Europe.  Based in Luxembourg, we represent the interests of  police officers across the whole of the European landscape.  EuroCOP is the only Police representative body that are members of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and the European Trade Union Federation (ETUF). EuroCOP also has participation rights  in the Council of Europe. https://eurocop.org/about-us/

EUROMIL - The European Organisation of Military Associations and Trade Unions is the voice of European soldiers on an international level. Its core mission is to promote the professional and social interests as well as the fundamental rights and freedoms of European soldiers. https://euromil.org/who-we-are/


EPSU is the European Federation of Public Service Unions. It is the largest federation of the ETUC and comprises 8 million public service workers from over 260 trade unions across Europe. EPSU organises workers in the energy, water and waste sectors, health and social services and local, regional and central government, in all European countries including the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood. In our sectors we organise workers in the public, the non-profit, mixed and private sector including in multinational companies. It is the recognised regional organisation of Public Services International (PSI).  www.epsu.org.

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