Fighting privatisation and defending public services
Across Europe the quantity and quality of our public services and the pay and conditions of our members are under threat from privatisation. EPSU is committed to fighting privatisation in any of its forms whether contracting-out and sub-contracting, public-private partnerships or various processes of commercialisation or marketisation. This briefing on privatisation was produced for the EPSU Congress in 2019 and covers the main work done over the last Congress period and the priorities for the current period.
Public and private sector efficiency is an important report that provides a comprehensive overview of academic research that challenges the idea that the private sector is more efficient than the public sector. The future is public is the latest update on insourcing highlighting the trends to bring privatised services back under public ownership and control.
Poor treatment of employees, outdated equipment and low quality of services – outsourcing and privatisation of municipal services has similar negative effects whether it takes place in Poland or Norway.
In the wake of the global financial crisis, neoliberal restructuring has continued unabated across Europe, with the privatisation of public services a key element of both national austerity policies, and European Union (EU) – level economic governance structures.
Turkish and Dutch unions discuss resistance to privatisation and commercialisation of public services
The Turkish unions in DISK (like Genel-Is and Devrim Saglik-Is) and KESK (SES, Tum-bel-Sen) and the Dutch FNV met to discuss the impact of outsourcing, privatisation and commercialisation of public services.
Trade unions representing workers in the public finance directorate (DGFiP) will be taking strike action on 10 May in protest at the continuing restructuring of the organisation and to defend workers’ rights and working conditions. The unions say that 30000 jobs have been cut since 2008 and a long-running process of restructuring has been carried out with digitalisation a key driver. They want a hold on restructuring and relocation and are concerned that the digital transformation and other changes are having a negative impact not just on the workforce but also on the quality of service. The
Services union ver.di has successfully fought off attempts by the Nord Residenz care company to shut down the works council. On 27 April, the regional labour court in Bremen in North West Germany ruled against the company’s attempts to dismiss the works council chair and her deputy, expel them from the works council and dissolve the works council itself. Nord Residenz is owned by the French multinational Orpea. Ver.di welcomed the many messages of solidarity support from trade unions across Europe and interventions by the state government and mayor of Bremen. Meanwhile, the union faces a major
The impact of the pandemic has led to restructuring of some care homes in the Brussels region where employers are arguing that declining occupation rates and costs of anti-COVID measures are making some homes unviable. The Armonea (Colisée) group has announced plans to close one facility (Sebrechts) with the loss of 108 jobs while unions at the Senior Living Group, part of the Korian multinational, are looking at ways to avoid compulsory redundancies with a range of measures. The unions at the Sebrecht care home have issued a strike notice and there is determination to fight what is seen as a
Workers in four social care organisations in Oslo have been taking strike action in support of their demands that all employees should be paid in line with pay rates in the municipal sector. Their union Fagforbundet says that pay rates for nurses are comparable to the public sector but assistant nurses and other workers could be paid around NOK 100000 (EUR 9800) a year less than people doing the same job a municipal care provider. The union is challenging two major companies – Stendi and Norlandia – to tackle this pay inequality and ensure fair pay across the sector.
Following mobilisations on 14 and 19 January in protest at restructuring plans affecting the ENGIE and EDF energy companies, trade unions have set dates for further action in February. The four energy unions are planning joint mobilisations on 4, 10 and 11 February to coincide with key debates in parliament. Strike action is planned for the 10th when the head of EDF will be taking part in parliamentary hearing. The unions have also been lobbying MPs, 83 of whom have joined with the unions in sending a letter to the government protesting against the EDF “Hercule” restructuring project.
On 19 January trade unions in the energy sector took further action in their campaign against the “Hercule” restructuring project in EDF, the main energy provider in France. EPSU and industriAll Europe sent a joint letter expressing their support for the unions, arguing that the plans pose a major threat to the company, its workers and the provision of energy as a public service. Meanwhile, unions representing health and social care also continued their protests on 12 and 21 January. A key issue is ensuring that pay increases awarded last year cover all health and social care workers