R.7. Utilities

A. The EPSU affiliates meeting at their 8th Congress in Brussels from 8 to 11 June 2009, commit to the following principles and objectives:

1. Utilities are a vital part of Europe’s public infrastructure and public services. These services should be affordable, accessible and of high quality EPSU prefers public ownership and public control of utilities. That’s the best guarantee to provide Europe’s citizens and businesses with safe and clean drinking water, efficient sanitation services, reliable electricity and gas and sustainable treatment of waste. EPSU and affiliated unions will work to improve the quality of the services delivered and work with civil society and user groups towards this. EPSU is committed to taking actions and campaigns in support of trade unions with members employed in privately or publicly owned utilities. These utility workers deliver these services. Promoting the public interest is therefore interlinked with quality jobs, safe work places and decent pay and conditions;

2. Climate change is the big challenge to current and future generations. EPSU favours the mainstreaming of climate change in EU policy and legislation, development cooperation and investment decisions with clear and ambitious targets. Principles of just transition towards a low or even zero carbon society including for workers concerned based on employment alternatives and training, are to be integrated in EU policy;

3. EPSU rejects the continued liberalization of energy, waste and water services as part of the EU Internal market or as part of GATS because of the impact on prices, investment, workers and citizens. EPSU advocates cost based, not market based, prices in utilities;

4. Europe needs a common energy policy which addresses climate change and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, promotes renewables, recognizes the importance of energy efficiency and massive public investment in research and development for new technologies and reduces Europe’s dependence on fossil fuels thus contributing to security of supply. Europe’s energy policy should be democratic, recognizing the role of the local and national level in determining the fuel mix. EPSU is committed to an energy policy with just and reasonable prices for all users and which protects the interests of low-income users;

5. A water policy based on water as a human right with high quality standards at prices that people can afford, having regard to the need to protect the poorest and most vulnerable people in society. The water sector must therefore be, remain or where appropriate return under the control of the public sector. EPSU believes in rational use of water, river basin management, safe treatment of sludge, stringent norms for pollutants and public control thereof aiming for zero pollution at the source; this with involvement of trade unions and the general public through participative mechanisms;

6. The waste hierarchy of preventing re-use, recycling, waste to energy and finally landfill is supported. The polluter - pays principle to ensure preservation and with high and criminal sanctions, responsibility for the producer and the proximity principle (i.e. treating waste close to where it is produced) are key to any policy. Improvements in public health and environmental protection are ultimately linked with health and safety of workers;

7. Recalls the policies EPSU has adopted on energy, water and waste during the last Congress period and their continued relevance for EPSU’s future policy development in the utilities.

B. The 8th Congress commits EPSU and affiliated trade unions to:

8. Water

Developing its alliance with networks of water activists that promote public water services, maintaining a critical analysis of developments in Europe’s water services together with PSIRU and others, supporting trade unions fighting privatization of water and waste water utilities, opposing European Commission efforts to commercialize water services for example through a Concession Directive or measures to address drought and flood management, drawing attention to the continued importance of investment and skilled workforce as part of quality services, and focusing attention on the impact of climate change on water and sanitation services;

9. Taking the initiative for a petition to obtain a million signatures for water as a human right and water is not for sale based on national action to gain broad public support during 4 weeks in the month of May in 2010 inviting other water activists groups to join, setting aside resources for the development of campaign materials, assistance to the EPSU Secretariat and establishing a campaign steering committee to accompany the campaign.

10. Energy

Critically analyzing the impact of the internal market for electricity and gas on workers and citizens, on investment and prices; demanding a thorough and independent European review of the experience with liberalization; exposing the possible contradiction between liberalization on the one hand and investment and security of supply on the other, reflecting on ways to create a European transmission grid and campaign for public ownership of distribution and transmission networks; opposing ownership unbundling of transmission and distribution networks; getting involved in regional market institutions; campaigning for democratic control of the regulators at national and European level through public participation and advisory councils (including trade union representation);

11. Develop a European social chapter to be mainstreamed in EU energy policy recognizing key issues such as fuel poverty and cost based pricing, health and safety, mobility and skills, social dialogue and collective bargaining between the social partners;

12. Demanding government and EU commitments to massive public investment in renewables’ research and development and especially in base-load renewables energy, in technologies that contribute to a low carbon society and in the required skills and qualifications;

13. Recognizing that the fuel mix is a national choice with cross-border and European implications regarding for safety and security, the use of resources and disposal of wastes and hence the need for analyzing the impact of clean technologies on skills to ensure that a highly qualified work force is available for all energy technologies;

14. Developing EPSU’s energy policy further focusing on organizing workers in energy services and renewables energy sources;

15. Supporting the trade unions involved in the European Energy Community in South East Europe (Countries of Western Balkan and Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Turkey) with the realization of the Memorandum of Understanding on the Social Aspects of the Energy Community and the national social action plans in particular; build the regional network of unions in the Energy Community further;

16. Demanding a social chapter in the EU external energy policies and the energy dialogues of Russia, Ukraine and other countries with the EU; seek a greater involvement of all unions in the energy dialogue and at a level comparable to that of the companies.

17. Waste

Providing an analysis of the European Waste Management strategy and implications of the Waste Framework Directive for workers and how unions can use these to improve training and health and safety and reduce competition on the basis of working conditions;

18. Surveying the employment, pay and conditions of workers in the waste sector determining the extend of cut throat competition, establishing a waste unions forum allowing regular exchange and joint actions; considering a recurring annual day of action as part of action to gain a social dialogue, reduce the number of accidents and have decent minimum wages in the sector.

19. Coordination of Collective Bargaining

Increasing the coordination of collective bargaining developments on the national level, in the utilities and multinational companies especially in the electricity and the gas sector. Increasing the focus on the national / regional level, in the utilities and multinational companies. Moving towards joint campaigns on issues such as outsourcing, ensuring coordinated actions and contributing to improve pay and conditions for workers. All with the aim to prevent social dumping and protect the freedom to negotiate and sign collective agreements;

20. Developing joint approaches such as the Charter for Transnational Solidarity in an Integrated Industry and the Gas Charter;

21. Promoting Just Transition principles in European energy policy in cooperation with ETUC; aiming for: I. a European Parliamentary report on the employment dimension of climate change and accompanying measures such as mobility, training and recognition of qualifications; II. discussion in the European Financial institutions on how such policies are linked with financial assistance III. discussion with the European employers in gas and electricity leading to a joint approach;

22. Comparing Corporate Social Responsibility approaches of utilities’ companies; ensuring recognition of the trade unions and seeking negotiated CSR approaches in companies and at European sectoral level.

23. European Social Dialogue

Continuing the European social dialogues in electricity and gas, ensuring subjects are treated which can bring real advantages to workers, not walking away from conflict and emphasizing the implementation of European positions by national trade unions and employers; starting a social dialogue in the waste sector through a membership based campaign to build broad support in public and private companies. Reflecting on the setting up of a European social dialogue committee for the water sector.

24. Multinational companies

Continuing the relationship with the EPSU EWC Coordinators network and aim for establishing EWCs in all multinational companies in electricity and gas in 2010; aim to establish EWCs in all multinational companies in waste in 2012.

25. Researching multinational companies in the utilities and to keep track of developments regarding the companies, their subsidiaries and the sectors; the research assists in determining companies eligible for EWCs and will inform unions and EPSU when targeting companies for action.

Adopted 10 June 2009

More like this