EPSU Newsletter 20 February
Public service workers have been very active over the last two weeks:
You can follow these and other actions in EPSU’s bi-monthly collective bargaining newsletter.
European Labour Authority
It is not only in our workplaces that we stand up for workers’ rights and interests. The European Council and Parliament have reached a deal on setting up a new European Labour Authority (ELA). It should assist national authorities in applying and enforcing European labour law and fighting abuses in labour mobility, social security and the posting of workers. The ELA will also coordinate and support inspections. The agreement includes a safeguard for the autonomy of employers and trade unions to reach collective agreements and also for unions to take industrial action. The ETUC considers it a useful step forward in the fight against the abuse of workers’ rights, however, international road transport is excluded, one of the areas many abuses take place.
Public service loophole in working conditions directive
In the meantime the European Parliament has approved the compromise deal with the Council on the Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions Directive. For many workers there is progress. For hundred thousands of public service workers this is potentially a bad deal that needs to be repaired at national level.
This is a clear case that underlines why a strong and progressive European Parliament is important for workers. We cannot expect conservative and liberal parties to defend workers’ rights, let alone extreme/far-right and nationalist parties. The ETUC will publish its election manifesto on 26 February and this will help all of us to get our voice heard.
Climate and just transition will be among the issues raised by the ETUC and this chimes with the strikes for the climate that are taking place in several countries. A global strike is planned for 15 March, and, full disclosure, one of my kids is taking part along with many schoolmates. They have succeeded in putting climate change high on the agenda, with a sense of urgency about the risk of facing a world without ice caps and glaciers, and having to live with the consequences when the Paris scenario of 1.5 degrees is not reached. However, we can only feel dismay over the accusations that dark forces are behind their engagement, that they don’t think for themselves, there is no point to the strikes, or that the government knows best etc. We have all heard similar arguments against our demonstrations and strikes. At EPSU’s last Congress in Toulouse we said that “Climate change is the largest single threat to current and future generations.” The young people are demanding that we take this seriously.
The right to strike is fundamental for trade unions in underpinning their ability to organise, collectively bargain and represent their members. However, this right has often been restricted for public service workers and in recent years has come under attack.
Strengthening collective bargaining, increasing wages and analysing the impact of liberalisation in the utility sector were the main focus of a 3-days visit organised in Kiev (Ukraine) from 5th to 8th of February.
EPSU affiliates in the public, non-for profit and private sector are on strike in Belgium, 13 February. The workers and our unions are fighting for a decent pay increase now profits are high, the economy is doing well and corporate taxes have been reduced.
At its 2018 November Plenary, the EP adopted a resolution on “Care services in the EU for improved gender equality”. EPSU had contributed to it with a written contribution and in direct exchanges with the rapporteur, MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen, EPP, Finland.
On 7 February, the European Parliament, European Commission and European Council (national governments) reached an agreement on the proposed Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions Directive.