Inspiration from trade unionists in Turkey for this New Year – Success to all

Friday, 25 January, 2019

A healthy and happy New Year to all of you. We hope that the year brings many successes in organising new workers and in improving the pay and conditions of our members and Europe’s workers. This year will be special with several key events. There is the EPSU Congress in June – please make sure you register your delegation by 31 January. The Congress follows shortly after the ETUC Congress in May which coincides with the European Parliament elections. We’ll come back time and again to the elections as our ambition is to strengthen the progressive voice and prevent the growth of the far-right and euro-sceptic parties.

In the coming months we also will focus on various outstanding pieces of European legislation. EPSU and the ETUC are continuing our lobby work to prevent the exclusion and different treatment of public service workers from the Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions Directive. With the European Federations for Police (Eurocop) and for the Military (Euromil), along with the ETUC and ETUI we have organised a meeting on 25 January to draw attention to the unjustified ways in which some governments prevent workers in emergency services, firefighting, police or even the whole civil service from having rights to proper working time, training and information and consultation. We will need your support and influence with your governments to stop this.

I have just come back from Turkey with an EPSU delegation and you can read about our visit in this newsletter. We learned first hand what it means for workers to experience being the “subjects” of an increasingly authoritarian state and about the attacks on unions, particularly through attempts to criminalise union activity. We support that the charges are dropped.

Workers’ and trade union rights are such a fundamental element of a democratic society that it is hard to believe there are still governments in the European Union that have an almost feudal approach to the treatment of civil servants. That attitude is reflected in the decision of the European Commission to refuse to provide information and consultation rights in EU legislation to nearly 10 million civil servants. It has undermined a democratic protection important in resisting the turn towards authoritarian regimes. This is a grave political mistake on the part of the Commission that weakens the social dialogue. Last year we launched our legal case against the Commission and we expect a decision of the Court in Luxembourg later this year.

I wish all workers the same courage and inspiration in 2019 for their trade union work as I found this week among union colleagues in Turkey. They press on with their struggle to defend workers despite the arrests, police and government interventions and constant intimidation. Success.