Most European countries are rapidly reducing the restrictions imposed during the pandemic. Economic, cultural and social life is picking up again. Workers who have been teleworking for more than a year are returning to their offices. The implications, risks and opportunities will become clearer. For many workers the pandemic has further stressed the harsh reality of precarious jobs and inequalities. For the ultra-rich it has been bonanza. We know the wealth of Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon, increased to over 190 bn USD. Companies like Apple and Amazon will soon be worth over a trillion US dollars. The same for Bernard Arnault, the owner of luxury goods chain LVHM, whose wealth reached a record of 194 bn USD. And as we return to work, analysists predict that the appetite for scarves worth hundreds of Euros and handbags costing 3000 Euros or more and other luxurious goods will continue to grow.
This stands in sharp contrast with the demands of care and other domestic workers. Workers were hit hard by the pandemic and are fighting for higher pay, respect and the recognition of their basic rights. And whereas EU governments protect the wealth and empires of Arnault, Bezos and others, by blocking wealth taxes, they refuse to ratify the ILO Convention 189. The 10-year old convention would give millions of workers basic rights and recognition. Just under a third of EU countries, plus Switzerland, have ratified the Convention. No other countries in Europe have done so. EPSU has long advocated for the signing of the Convention, and we were pleased to join a coalition of groups speaking up for domestic care and other workers 29 June.
The increase in domestic care and the exploitation of care workers also reflects the lack of investment in and funding for public services at all levels. It is a form of outsourcing care work which results in lower pay and worse conditions. With our joint action on International Public Service Day, we underlined the need for investment and funding, for better pay and conditions. I thank all again for your contributions and for the impact we have made. In the debates we spoke with the special rapporteur of the UN on Human Rights and Extreme poverty. He supports the need to strengthen public services. His report argues for collective bargaining and policy measures to increase coverage of more workers under collective agreements and recommends the Commission to take measures. The report will be discussed in the UN Human Rights Council this week.
Several unions are involved in strike actions this week, such as the Italian waste and electricity workers on 30 June. They oppose new legislation that will force the outsourcing of public services. It is a process of forced contracting out that will have damaging consequences for workers and service quality as the experience in the UK demonstrates. Our Slovenian comrades of the firefighters union organised strike action 30 June and 1 July. The Slovenian government is not engaging in negotiations around pay issues. EPSU has sent letters of support and solidarity.
Many will go on leave in the comings weeks. If you do, we wish you a relaxing time. And with all we will continue our battles for quality public services and good pay and conditions for public services workers.