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.
A long-running dispute in hospitals in North West England has been resolved with pay rises for workers employed by the outsourcing company Compass. Before the deal, Compass employees were on the national minimum wage (£8.21 per hour/EUR 9.65), while colleagues employed directly by the NHS were earning at least £9.03 (EUR 10.60). This meant Compass workers were losing out to the tune of around £1,500 (EUR 1760) a year (see EPSU CB News August 2019, 15). The agreement negotiated by UNISON and overwhelmingly supported by the workers means they’ll now receive a significant pay rise, more money for
Public service unions have called for urgent action to address the immediate threat to jobs and the long-term issue of outsourcing in the wake of the collapse of a second major outsourcing company in two years. Interserve has around 45000 workers and government contracts worth GBP 2.1 billion (EUR 2.45 billion). Unite, the largest trade union in the company, has called for urgent talks in order to address the future of workers employed on the hundreds of contracts for cleaning, catering, facilities management and construction. Public service union Unison has called for all Interserve contracts
Verdi health and social services against commercialisation and privatisation. In solidarity with DISK President standing trial
Leading activists of Verdi in the health and social services joined European actions against the privatisation and commercialisation of health and social care.
On 1 and 2 April EPSU participated in and contributed to activities in relation to World Health Day (7 April) to fight against (more) privatisation, marketisation and commercialisation in this sector across Europe.
Public service unions are fighting for better pay from outsourcing companies and to stop further outsourcing. Members of the PCS civil service union are continuing their long-running strike to get outsourcers Aramark and ISS to pay the living wage. They are calling on government intervention to resolve the dispute. Meanwhile health workers in Bradford in the north east are threatening an all-out strike in protest at plans to transfer them to a wholly-owned subsidiary rather than retain them as direct employees of the National Health Service.
A nine-month long dispute between the PCS civil service union and contractors ISS and Aramark could be near to conclusion if details of a pay offer are confirmed. The companies provide services to the Department for Business, Energy and Industry Strategy which has indicated that the contractors may meet the union's demand to pay the London living wage of £10.55 (EUR 11.80) an hour. Meanwhile, the union is planning another five days of strike action in another long-running dispute, this time over union recognition at the contractor Interserve which provides services for the Foreign Office.
Public service unions, including Fagborbundet and the nurses' union, are hopeful that 11 privatised care homes in Oslo will be back under municipal control in the next two years as their contracts come to an end. The red/green coalition on the city council has given positive signs but the unions are concerned it may use an option to extend contracts by one or two years. The unions argue that any delay will be costly to the workers. They give the example of a care home in Uranienburg which was privatised in 2013 and then remunicipalised but workers in the home had lost out with annual salaries
Central government union PCS organised a fifth week of action against outsourcing company Interserve which provides services for the Foreign Office. The core of the dispute is over union recognition. Meanwhile, the union also organised a five-day strike by cleaners employed by the ISS multinational which has a contract with the tax and revenue service (HMRC) on Merseyside in north west England.
The four unions representing workers in France's main energy company EDF - FNME-CGT, FNEM-FO, CFE-CGC and CFDT Chimie Energie - are continuing their joint actions in protest against the plans for major restructuring and privatisation of the company. After the widely supported strike action on 19 September, the unions have launched a petition and are planning a further day of strike action on 17 October.
Workers employed by the Aramark outsourcing company at the government's Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have won their campaign to be paid a living wage. After two months of strike action the company agreed to pay a minimum of GBP 10.55 an hour (EUR 11.75) and also to improve holiday entitlement and sickness benefit. Negotiations covering other workers at BEIS employed by the ISS multinational are still underway.