Public investment needed to deliver on Pillar of Social Rights, unions say at Tripartite Social Summit

Tripartite Social Summit 21 March 2018, Brussels

Public investment in public services needed to deliver on Pillar of Social Rights, unions say at Tripartite Social Summit

(23 March 2018) The latest Tripartite Social Summit took place on 21 March was devoted to the follow up on the European Pillar of Social Rights in EU policy. ETUC General Secretary Luca Visentini stressed that the European Council should make progress on the current raft of social legislation, including Work-Life Balance, Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions, Posting of Workers and the European Labour Authority.  The ETUC demands more progressive macroeconomic policies, including support for investment in people and wages that increase in line with inflation and productivity. He urged that these be addressed in the Country Specific Recommendations foreseen for May. The Social Scoreboard which accompanies the Social Pillar is to become the basis for a more social European Semester. The European social partners further demanded a rapid conclusion by the Commission of its proposals for the Multi-Annual Financial Framework.

Information and consultation rights denied

EPSU General Secretary Jan Willem Goudriaan and Luca Visentini both addressed the European Commission’s recent negative decision on the agreement on information and consultation rights in central government administrations. Jan Willem underlined that the way that the Commission had handled the agreement would have a negative impact on the sectoral social dialogues. He also stressed that the Commission is allowing discrimination between workers in EU law to continue, a violation of a basic principle of the Treaty that people should be treated equally. Employment Commissioner Marianne Thyssen argued that, unlike other workers, those in public administration are different and do not need protection of their information and consultation rights based on EU legislation. Public administration workers such as tax administrators, cleaners, clerks, food and patient safety inspectors, employees in agencies etc. are apparently somehow “different”. The Pillar of Social Rights recognizes the right for every worker to information and consultation and we consider the attitude of the Commission is a violation of the spirit of the Pillar and seriously undermines it.

More public investment – not more PPPs           

Jan Willem also joined with ETUC Deputy General Secretary Katja Lehto-Komulainen to voice the need for public investment in public services to ensure that the European Union and Member States deliver on the commitments made in the Pillar. If we want good quality health, child and long-term care for all, investment in our services is key. EPSU raised the large number of industrial actions by public service workers in Europe  and especially in care services. These actions are for better pay and conditions and to address the lack of staff that threatens the quality of services and leads to stress and burnout. The ETUC delegation at the Tripartite Summit expressed its support for the actions of Danish public service workers. Jan Willem drew attention the latest report of the European Court of Auditors that argues that “EU co-financed Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) cannot be regarded as an economically viable option for delivering public infrastructure” and that the Commission and Member States should stop investing in them.

Dealing with the tax dodgers

European Council President, Donald Tusk, announced a debate with government leaders on how best to continue fighting tax avoidance and tax crimes. In response, Jan Willem argued for strong and comprehensive public country-by-country reporting, investment in tax administrations and more qualified tax inspectors to tackle the tax dodgers and fraudsters. He added that it was also important to ensure fair and progressive taxation systems. This will deliver the income to invest in public services, social protection and addressing inequalities. Thus the Pillar of Social Rights can be delivered.

The Tripartite Social Summit took place 21 March 2018. It brings together the inter-professional social partners, Ministers from the Troika (former, current and next countries holding the EU Presidency), European Commissioners and the European Council. The ETUC delegation included the ETUC President, General Secretary and other confederal secretaries, along with the President of the CITUB confederation (Bulgaria), the General Secretary of the Alfa-Cartel confederation (Romania), a representative of the ÖGB confederation (Austria), a representative of the Eurocadres organization representing managers and professionals and the EPSU General Secretary.

For the press statement following the Tripartite Social Summit.

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