(3 October 2023) By acclamation the NEA Standing Committee elected Karin Brunzell ST Sweden and Alain Parisot UNSA France as co-chairs of the Committee, and Federico Trastulli, UILPA, Italy as vice-chair. The new team will lead the work of the committee in the run up to the EPSU Congress in June next year. The Committee welcomed a new member Anahit Asatryan from Armenia.
The day’s discussions touched on several important topics:
- The EU social dialogue in central government administrations (SDC CGA) The Committee prepared the next meeting with employers on 20 October that will take stock of developments concerning the joint request for legislative implementation of their agreement on digitalisation that was adopted on 6 October 2022. The European Commission has said that it will only process the agreement after the completion of the cross-sectoral negotiations on telework and right the right to disconnect which are due to end on 23 October. We are attentive to the interplay between the two agreements, especially concerning the definition of worker representatives, the voluntary nature of telework, and questions around health and safety/well-being. We are pressing for a reference to the CGA agreement to be included in the cross-sectoral agreement.
- Commission initiative on Enhancing the European Administrative Space EPSU’s preliminary contribution (attached) opens with a quote from the EU Ombudsman: “We have a fundamental right to good administration. It may not be the first thing citizens think of when considering their rights, but in many ways, it is the most important” (EU ombudsman Ms O’Reilly, 2022). In the upcoming months we will work with the EPSU Local and Regional Government Committee to ensure that the right to good administration – already a principle in the Charter for Fundamental Rights – is well-integrated in practice in the Commission’s initiative and that it is also addressed to non-EU countries.
- The website on third-party violence and harassment at work, a result of the recent multi-sectoral project, was shown to the Committee by Mounia Boudhan, EPSU Secretariat. It brings together the action plan and other materials from the recent multi-sectoral project on this important topic. The action plan (available in English, Spanish, French and German) stresses the link between health and safety and the quality of services. Staff shortages, underinvestment in staff development, cuts in much-needed services and/or reduced access can cause frustration and hostility from service users. Quality of services is very much a trade union and work-related issue!
- Green transition The Committee discussed the terms of reference (attached) for joint EPSU/ITUC Just Transition Centre research on the consequences for public services and workers on the frontline of dealing with climate and other ecological problems. The timeline for the study is still open but will probably start early next year. Input from members highlighted strengthening workplace capacity, alliance building and addressing new forms of work.
- Recruitment and organising (R&O) The Committee also considered a proposal on research on R&O and whether to base it around case studies or data on trade union density. It was emphasized that unions need to map their sector to have relevant information to support an effective R&O strategy, however, there was some scepticism about doing this from the European level and that an exchange of good practices might be more valuable. EPSU’s R&O team has been supporting unions to develop their strategies and the study could contribute to this. From a European perspective, the possibilities for EPSU to shape change collectively is related to our strength and influence at national level.
- ETUC anti-austerity campaign This focuses on the current revision of rules on government spending, that were relaxed during the COVID-19 pandemic, but are set to be tightened again, risking a return to the kinds of austerity seen after the financial crisis in 2008.
- Commission initiative on talent pool/partnerships on migration was also on the agenda, building upon the ETUC position here.
And finally, the Committee had a brief update on EPSU Congress preparations, including on amendments to the EPSU draft Programme of Action.