The 30th Congress ended with a powerful commitment of public service union leaders from across the globe to work together to fight privatization, change neoliberalism and end the exploitation of workers, people and the environment. During 5 days union leaders discussed issues workers, our families and our communities are facing at work and in society. Experiences were exchanged, strategies to change the situation shared and connections between different struggles made. Public services and workers see cut backs in funding and attacks on union rights in many countries. Unions fight back to protect workers and the Congress was an inspiring place to consider the role of the unions in charting a course for a better future. A programme of action was adopted that challenges the neoliberal policies and sets out to make fundamental change. Many colleagues of European region participated in the debates and panels like the EPSU President, discussing the issue on inequalities between men and women.
Several emergency resolutions were adopted relating to payment of public sector wages in Nigeria, seeking justice for a young Argentinian worker killed, defending trade union rights in Egypt, addressing the tensions between North Korea and the US and other countries, condemning the role of the corrupt Brazilian President Temer, paying attention to the health and asylum request of the ex-president of KESK (Turkey), Mr Lami Ozgen
Congress re-elected both the PSI President Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison and EPSU senior vice-president as well as the General Secretary Rosa Pavanelli. Delegates celebrated the work that has been done to move the agenda of members during the last 5 years.
Men in the PSI pledged to act to prevent violence against women. They were wearing orange to show their commitment as several speakers spoke out against the sexual harassment women are still facing at the workplace and in society. Other events during Congress brought together European and other delegates around the trade agenda with discussions on TISA, the agreements being negotiated or renewed with Japan, Mexico, Australia, Mercosur and several countries in Latin America for example. The Swiss affiliate VPOD together with EPSU/PSI organized a meeting with the ex-president of KESK who had to flee his country under threat of jail sentence. Delegates listened to the powerful testimony of him and Turkish unions on the situation in Turkey. EPSU also participated in the whistleblower protection seminar explaining the campaign in the EU to get legalization to protect whistleblowers.
Before the World Congress the EPSU Executive met 29 October. Acting as the European regional body of the PSI it approved a series of nominations for the PSI Executive Board, the vice-presidents, the Women’s Committee and the Youth Representatives. These were ratified by Congress. Other discussions took place on the finance of the PSI and several resolutions. One on a Treaty for Climate refugees was referred to the Board for more discussion while a resolution that expressed solidarity with the Kurdish people will be followed up to get a deeper understanding of the situation. The Executive Committee further received a report following the Young workers’ seminar in Berlin and the work the young workers’ delegates are undertaking.
Actions in the frame of the ETUC Pay Campaign were considered with 8 November being the start of a focus on minimum wages. Increasing low pay is an effective way to address the gender pay gap in many countries. The Executive Committee noted the work on the EU pillar of Social Rights, the actions taken place on 7 November, and the lack of transparency on the agreement on information and consultation reached between the employers and the unions in December 2015. European delegates participated in a picture action during Congress demanding transparency from the European Commission regarding its dealings with EU level social partner agreements.