No to concession bargaining in utilities says EPSU Committee, Energy, water and waste on agenda

(23 April 2007) Energy, water and waste trade unions discussed recent collective bargaining developments in a number of countries. Several colleagues reported that the European companies are seeking concessions from the trade unions on longer working hours, reduction in the number of days leave etc. This happens in the energy sector despite record profits and in a context where billions are spent on take-over battles. The EPSU group evoked the charter on transnational solidarity in an integrated industry and pledged support to unions fighting such attempts. EPSU unions want that wage bargaining results in compensation of inflation and a fair share of productivity increases.

The Standing Committee adopted policies on:
- Amendments to be proposed on the internal market electricity and gas to the European Parliament. It will be discussing the European Commission's proposals of the progress report on that market. The internal market hinders a European (industrial) energy policy, has negative consequences for workers and for domestic users. Further policies on renewables, coal and nuclear will be considered.
- European Commission report on the Water Framework Directive. EPSU insists that the EU's water policy should not consider water a commodity and should not lead to commercialisation. The risks are there due to the stress on economic instruments to be used to steer users behaviour. The Commission also proposes benchmarking of water operators and EPSU wants to be part of these discussions;
- The European Parliament's amendments on the Waste Framework Directive. EPSU supports the waste hierarchy and the ambitious targets of the European Parliament to prevent, reuse and recycle wastes. EPSU stresses the importance of involving stakeholders and points out the dangers of public-private partnerships.

It approved the work of the EPSU delegation in the social dialogue with Eurelectric in which health and safety, equality (toolkit), corporate social responsibility, employment and European energy policy are discussed. It noted the results of the EcoTec study on the effects of the opening of the markets for electricity and gas on employment which has lead to considerable job losses (EPSU estimate 330.000 since 1990) and an increase in outsourcing of activities often at worse pay and conditions.

It also approved the work of the EPSU delegation in the social dialogue with Eurogas. The first meeting was held 15 March. This dialogue will consider health and safety, the results of the employment study and competencies, and the internal market for electricity and gas. The Standing committee supports the Gas charter which has been developed by a number of EPSU affiliated unions.

The Standing Committee further considered:
- The Industrial actions which have taken place in a range of countries such as Romania, Hungary, Albania, Serbia
- The developments on South East Europe and the Memorandum of Understanding. The delays are not acceptable while restructuring is progressing rapidly.
- Energy and Transport Forum
- Recent developments regarding EWCs. A report was given of the EWC Coordinators meeting which took place 19 April.
Next meeting of the EPSU EWC coordinators is on 29 October in Brussels and the EPSU Standing Committee Utilities on 30 October also in Brussels.