The health and care unions in EPSU are mobilizing for a European week of action 26-30 October with a day of action on the 29th to coincide with a call for action of the ITUC on care. The unions are fighting for health and care beyond the pandemic with a focus on better pay, safe staffing and quality care for all. Together we can give a strong message to demands that are shared across Europe. More info will follow. We look forward for you to find ways to support the demands and join this action.
Armed conflict Our affiliates in Armenia and Azerbaijan have spoken to me about the renewed violence in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The two governments accuse each other as they mobilise and draft working people into service. People are begin injured and killed with working class people in both countries paying the price. Recalling the position adopted by ETUC and ITUC in early August, we support the international efforts to establish a cease-fire and to find peaceful solutions. The conflict is eating up resources that could have been invested in improving the quality of life and providing better public services and social protection systems.
Alas this is not the only conflict in the European region and it is a stark reminder how demilitarization and fighting for peace is part and parcel of our union work. As is our opposition to nationalism, the extreme-right and their Euroscepticism. They want to see the destruction not only of the European Union, but also the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights, institutions that aim to limit conflict and achieve peace and prosperity. We know these political forces are no friends of workers and unions. Nonetheless they will seek to organise unions to undermine collective bargaining and to make common cause with the employers. This is exactly what’s happening in Italy.
Far-right union undermines worker’s rights The Italian trade union UGL, linked with the right-wing Lega party, has signed an agreement with the Assodelivery employers’ group covering workers in food delivery services like Deliveroo, UberEats and Just Eat. With hardly any members and against the opposition of other unions that represent workers in these services, UGL has concluded an agreement that takes away workers’ rights. It is rare for employer organisations, including those at European level, to distance themselves from such behaviour. And we will not see the CEO of Deliveroo condemn the actions of Matteo Sarzana, the President of Assodelivery and the General Manager of Deliveroo Italy. Exploiting the margins of the law, cutting corners at the expense of workers, the environment and public finance, is what most companies do. That is why legislation like that on due diligence is so important. Thanks to the mobilisation of the riders the Italian labour minister rejected the registration of the agreement calling it illegitimate.
Exposing the tax dodgers Normally outside the scope of our work, but the US president provides another recent example of cutting corners following publication of his tax returns by the New York Times. It shows once again the corruption of the rich and how they abuse and manipulate the political system to their advantage and against the working class. It underlines how important it is to support independent media, investigative journalism and critical research.
With PSI, EPSU supports the work of the CICTAR corporate tax centre that exposes the tax avoidance of major companies. Such research and especially the various leaks (Luxleaks, Panama papers) contributed to the success of our demand for the European Parliament to set up a permanent Committee on Tax. Chaired by Dutch MEP Paul Tang, the committee started its work on 23 September and will deal with tax fraud, evasion and avoidance, as well as financial transparency for taxation purposes. We have already brought the CICTAR report on the German health care company Fresenius to their attention. In this period of rising COVID-19 infections and further incredible stress on health and care workers, we expect the Parliament to look into the tax behaviour of major care companies. No public funding should go to such companies without them meeting obligations to have transparent tax payments through public country-by-country reporting.
Being in the union pays to bring about change and get better pay and conditions.