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.
Turkish and Dutch unions discuss resistance to privatisation and commercialisation of public services
Unions representing staffing in provincial government, including FNV, have suspended negotiations following what they regard as an unacceptable pay offer from the employers of only 0.6%, with inflation currently at 1.9%. They have now launched a petition to get broad support from staff and get negotiations back on track. Noting that productivity has increased with a significant rise in telework, they are looking for a 2.5% pay increase, a fair homeworking allowance and measures on sustainable employability.
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
In February this year, the Supreme Court in the UK ruled that Uber, the driving, and delivery platform, should treat its drivers as workers and not as self-employed. This follows a trend across Europe where courts in several countries have forced digital platforms to revise the employment relationship with the workers providing their services. Platform work is changing the economic and social landscape, revolutionising the way services are delivered while raising major questions about social and labour rights.
Public services union Fórsa has asked the government to open negotiations over an agreement on remote working. The union notes that there have been some positive outcomes from the recent increase in telework as a result of the pandemic, but an agreement is needed to regulate what could be a long-term shift in the organisation of work across the public sector. Fórsa has set out some key elements for the agreement which include, among others: agreed guidelines for identifying functions that can be performed remotely; fair access and the right to request remote work; right to decline remote work
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.
After the surge in remote working as a result of the pandemic, trade unions in Ireland, Russia and Spain have welcomed new initiatives, including legislation and collective agreements, that regulate telework. Research by the Eurofound research agency also looks into the negative and positive implications of telework for workers’ autonomy and work-life balance raising again the challenges to ensure that workers have control over their working time and underlining the importance of current discussions at European level on the right to disconnect.
The ambiguous effects of telework In 2017, a joint report from the Eurofound research agency and the International Labour Organization observed that advances in digital technology were making it easier to work anytime and anywhere. The phenomenon of telework and mobile work has been increasing