Moving ahead – public service workers deserve a pay rise and priorities till Congress 2019

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The state of trade union rights in Turkey, recent protests in Belarus and attacks on unions in other countries were discussed with Anton Leppik at the last EPSU Executive Committee. Anton is the executive director of PERC, the Pan-European Regional Council (PERC) of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) which covers the same geographical area as EPSU. With the ITUC and ETUC we will seek support for the trade union members in Turkey who in the state of emergency following the failed coup in July were suspended, dismissed or arrested without evidence of their involvement. You will get a call for solidarity. 

The 54th EPSU Executive Committee was a special mid-term review with over 100 union leaders participating in the debate on our priorities over the next two years up to the 10th EPSU Congress in Dublin in 2019 (4-7 June). We debated how we can best defend women’s rights, work to close the gender pay gap and improve work-life balance. We expect the European Commission will publish proposals on this before the end of April and it will be an issue in our social dialogue committees. We further expect the Commission to publish a Communication on working time. EPSU will examine the Communication closely and will react strongly with the ETUC if the approach of the Communication is to undermine existing protection or promote more flexibility. Workers in Europe want more protection against precariousness and social dumping. We need stronger bargaining rights and a restoration of these rights in public services.  

We will continue our work on recruitment and organizing, on trade and tax justice. A key issue is to obtain public country by country reporting by multinational companies to make the use of tax havens and tax avoidance visible. Another initiative is to protect whistleblowers. The tax leaks have shown the importance of their role in revealing the reprehensible behaviour of their employers. We will work with a coalition of groups to get decent EU level protection for them. EPSU supports the ETUC Pay Rise Campaign and Public Services Day 23 June, will be a rallying point in this campaign for public service workers. The wages of millions of public service workers are lagging behind inflation and have not recovered in many countries since 2008. We want to change that and end austerity policies.

While continuing to call for increased public investment, we are concerned how the European Commission is continuing to promote public-private partnerships (PPPs) as a solution. In the period up to Congress we will do more to underline that such cooperation between public authorities and the private sector with tax-payers’ money is a dead end street. This was also a message on World Health Day 7 April. Many affiliates participated in the mobilization against commercialization of health and other care. Together with the Belgian unions and social movements we joined a demonstration in Brussels demanding health care for all. Workers in other parts of the world face similar issues and attacks. The EPSU Executive prepared for the PSI World Congress 31/10-3/11 in Geneva by debating the draft programme of action and the constitution. Over 1000 delegates and others are expected to participate in the conference.

It was with sadness that I sent message of condolences to our many Russian and Swedish friends and colleagues and our brothers and sisters of the Egyptian unions. The answer of the people to the attacks was impressive. The deafening minute of silence in Sweden was inspiring. Together we are stronger to create a better future and a different Europe. 

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