UN Public Service Day - 23 June – celebrating public service workers

Participants at EPSU Congress June 2019 Dublin

Delegates at EPSU Congress June 2019, Dublin

(21 June 2019) EPSU has used the occasion of the annual public service day to highlight the work of public service workers to new members of the European Parliament.

The day recognizes that democracy and successful governance are built on the foundation of a competent civil service. It celebrates the value and virtue of public service to the community. It highlights the contribution of public service in the development process and recognizes the work of public servants. Our members deliver quality public administration, justice and regulatory agencies like food, labour and health care inspectorates. They are the nurses and childcare workers that take care of the sick, the young, the elderly. From education assistants to librarians and museum staff, from street cleaners to workers in higher education and universities, public service workers keep our societies together.  Waste workers collect our garbage, water workers ensure our drinking water and take care of our sewage, while our energy members ensure the lights are kept on in a safe sustainable and affordable manner. Public service workers rescue refugees, deal with asylum and assist with integration. Tax inspectors go after the fraudulent companies that avoid paying their fair share while firefighters, first responders and other emergency workers are there in our moments of despair and terror. Our 8 million members do this 24/7.

23 June is a good moment to recognise and celebrate the work of those millions of women and men. It is a moment to recall that to serve the community and all of us, our members deserve and require decent pay and conditions, labour rights and involvement in the decisions that affect their workplaces. All too often their views and opinions are ignored to the peril of patients, users of the public services and against the interests of our communities. That is why we want an EU in which the interests of People and our Planet are put before the Profits for the very, very few.  

We ask the MEPs to stand up for Social Europe and for policies that protect public services,  workers’  rights and the environment;  and who renew the EU’s democratic basis and it’s ability to steer Europe towards a more socially just and sustainable future.

To recall EPSU asked MEPs

1. Support public investment in collectively financed and democratically run public goods and services  based on fundamental rights (e.g., to  right2water, right2energy, right2care, right2health and care).  This will be a double win for gender equality;  improving the jobs of  the many women who work in public services  as well as the services that many women depend on.

2. Reform the current financial system in Europe to allow the necessary borrowing to fund social and productive infrastructure needed  for development within and outside Europe.  A new approach to debt and the financial architecture of social Europe is essential, one that removes arbitrary national debt limits and ensures that effective sovereign debt resolution frameworks are in place in the EU.

3. Oppose policies that push for further liberalisation of public services, for example through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), that have hidden costs and that make the management of public budgets more difficult in the long-term. 

4. Deepen the EP’s work on  progressive, transparent and efficient taxation,  to stop tax avoidance by the rich and multinational corporations who hide their wealth in tax havens yet demand austerity policies.

5. Work with the trade unions to support measures that develop and strengthen collective bargaining in Member States, for example by making sure public contracts are awarded to companies that have collective agreements. Workers need higher wages and  after years of austerity. It is urgent to move forward with upwards wage and social convergence between west and eastern European Member States.   Europe’s policies should support this change of course.

6. Ensure that  laws, collective bargaining and social dialogue are the preferred regulatory instruments to shape the quality of work and services, and not  privately-driven EU standards (CEN) and certification/accreditation schemes.

7. Support the transformation of the agreement from the EU social partners for central governments on information and consultation rights on restructuring (digitalisation, collective redundancies, transfers of staff or undertakings) into a proposal for a directive for adoption by the EU Council, in line with TFEU Article 155.2. Millions of workers and civil servants in public administrations depend on it.

8. Ensure that all workers irrespective of their status are covered by EU social Directives.

9. Improve health and safety at work,  including preventing the exposure to carcinogens of firefighters and other groups of workers.

10. Obtain safe, legal migration and asylum channels to the European Union based on human rights, solidarity between EU Member States and  sufficiently staffed services that are charged with the reception and care of newcomers .

11. Promote a youth guarantee that employs young workers in public services and push for  binding  objectives at EU and national level to reduce youth unemployment.

12. Ensure access to clean affordable energy  and an  end to energy poverty.  Europe needs a publicly owned energy sector that is reliable and sustainable and to guarantee that producing  and distributing energy is a public service mission.  Public investment in renewables  will create jobs now and for the future. Our jobs depend on our planet: Just transition and Climate Justice are part and parcel of national, European and global polices.

13. Make sure that health care and social services are of high quality  for all,  by guaranteeing that they are affordable and accessible, provided on a not-for-profit basis and in the general interest. There must be  sufficient and adequately trained and  qualified staff, based on safe and effective staffing levels, with good working and pay conditions for the workforce.

14. Uphold the rule of law by opposing special rights being given  to  investors in trade and investment agreements (including in the new Multilateral Investment Court [MIC]) and to ensure  trade is fair and sustainable.

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