On 8 May, the EPSU Executive Committee agreed to launch a legal challenge to the European Commission’s decision to reject the social partner agreement on information and consultation rights for workers in central government administrations (A press conference will be held on 15 May). This agreement, if implemented, would provide cleaners, clerks and other workers in central government with rights in EU law that already exist for workers in other sectors. In March, the European Commission informed us that it would not bring a proposal forward to the Council to turn the agreement in a directive. It is the first time the Commission has taken such a step and the central government social partners informed the Commission that they do not agree with its decision. EPSU’s concern is about the Commission intervening in the outcome of the social dialogue and disrespecting the work of the social partners.
It is quite something for EPSU to take on this case but there are many strong arguments to do so. EPSU will defend the European social dialogue, information and consultation rights and high standards of public administrations. In March 2015 European Commission heralded the New start for social dialogue and this was an impetus for our agreement with the employers. It is ironic then, that this Commission that set so much store on strengthening the social element of the EU, particularly with the EU Pillar of Social Rights, has taken such an unprecedented decision; Workers and their families expect otherwise the European Commission.
The EPSU executive committee discussed a range of other issues including:
- Preparations for the EPSU Congress in Dublin in 2019 – discussion of the agenda, our draft Programme of Action and amendments to the constitution. The excellent work of our Irish affiliates was particularly appreciated.
- European Parliament elections in 2019 – consideration of our demands for the European Parliament elections in 2019. We want a progressive majority that is capable of advancing Social Europe and economic policies that will result in public investment to create jobs and quality public services. Protection of information and consultation rights for all workers in EU law will be a core issue to which we want the candidates to the presidency of the European Commission.
- EPSU’s approach to the ETUC Congress and the future of the ETUC.
- The EU’s Western Balkan Strategy and the EU Neighbourhood policies.
- Follow up to our women’s conference in Prague and actions on 8 March.
- Economic governance and the European semester – where there the Commission is taking account of the Pillar of Social rights but the emphasis remains on structural reforms and what is now called resilience, a fancy word for austerity.
- The annual and finance reports 2017 were presented showing the full range of our work, as was the substantial body of work in our sectors on which this newsletter reports.
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