(20 March 2023) We stood in silence to express our solidarity and sympathy for the people in Turkiye. Our comrades suffered such great loss in the tragedy of the earthquake of 6 February. Close to 50.000 people lost their lives and many more are expected to be found in the rubble of the villages, towns and cities that were devastated. All unions lost comrades. The unions in Turkiye provided detailed accounts of what happened, how rescue, health and other workers were involved and the impact on the people as millions have lost their homes. They spoke about the political causes that made the tragedy bigger as would have been needed. Neoliberal policies and an increasingly authoritarian state had undermined public services and quality public administrations. All the unions make great efforts to assist and shelter those without homes. There is a large internal migration as hundred thousands have left the region. The rebuilding will take years as public infrastructure in the broadest sense is destroyed (roads, schools, watermains, hospitals, administrative buildings… The support of the global labour movement will be needed for the unions. European and other aid funds should be going to the people, and resources should not be diverted to profits of construction companies.
It was the first constituency in 3 years. Our planned meeting in 2020 was cancelled due to the pandemic lockdown. We expressed our solidarity with the unions out on strike and in industrial disputes. The union leaders addressed the EPSU Congress, the programme of activities and the constitutional amendments. We further looked at the PSI Congress and the ETUC Congress and the issues we want to see included. Unions insisted EPSU/PSI and ETUC should be federations that challenge neo-liberal policies and stand up for trade union rights and democracy. We want to achieve social justice and protect the environment. Moving to zero emissions is a key challenge and several countries have problems with the fast pace of change. Workers and communities need resources to invest and fund the changes.
Our unions from Moldova reported on the very difficult and unstable political situation and how they welcome the opening to the European union. The unions from Turkiye informed about the forthcoming elections and the possibility of change. A major part of the discussions was about organising and recruitment. The EPSU organising presented the work which was done so far and our Czech health care and Romanian public service unions presented their comprehensive strategies.
The constituency meeting took place in Istanbul, 14 and 15 March 2023. The South East European constituency includes Albania, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania, Turkiye. It was presided by Razvan Gae.