People over profit say global public service union leaders
For Didier Baur
Union leaders returned home last week reinvigorated by the debates at the PSI Congress. Inspired by stories of resistance and progressive alternatives from around the world, unions will coordinate their struggles in our countries, in our regions and in global forums to defend the interests of our members and to stand up for public services. The revelations of the Paradise Papers, exposing tax avoidance by companies and wealthy individuals, underline how important these struggles are. You cannot effectively fight this theft of public revenues if at the same time the resources for tax inspection and other state functions are cut.
This was the message EPSU brought to EU finance ministers which met with the social partners in the frame of the macro-economic dialogue. We need an end to austerity and wage freezes in public services. UK civil servants recently endorsed a campaign to end the policy to cap their salary at 1%. Slovak workers will take to the streets on 9, 16 and 23 November with similar demands.
EPSU stressed the need for investment to ensure the quality of public services. Staffing shortages from tax administration to hospitals and elderly care are becoming critical across Europe. And as the Paradise Papers stress: the funding is there. Our message that tax havens need to be closed down is getting across as finance ministers addressed this in their meeting following the macro-economic dialogue. We reminded them that people expect transparency in taxation and that ministers should support public country-by-country reporting.
An end to austerity is needed to make sure that the EU pillar of social rights does not remain a paper commitment. Unions across Europe will stress this in their actions over the coming weeks that will call for a solid implementation of these rights. These lead up to the EU Summit in Gothenburg where the pillar is to be declared on 17 November. EPSU staff joined an action of the Belgian affiliates this week in support of stronger rights and we will ask affiliates to assist in demanding concrete results.
This newsletter is full of news from the work we do in the different sectors and the progress we make in advancing our joint agenda. This is the work of all of us. It is with sadness that I have to commemorate one of us who contributed so much to our work in the utilities and in particular the energy sector, in the social dialogue and European works councils. Didier Baur died in the night of 7 November. Our thoughts go out to his family, his friends and comrades in France and beyond. Representing the French union CGT-FNME he was a great comrade and dear friend. He assisted EPSU with his sharp analysis and dedication to build a strong European trade union movement that would achieve positive change for workers. I dedicate this newsletter to him and to the work you all do in our joint struggle. Thank you Didier. Thank you all.
The 30th Congress ended with a powerful commitment of public service union leaders from across the globe to work together to fight privatization, change neoliberalism and end the exploitation of workers, people and the environment.
Unions demand investment, pay convergence, progressive economic policy at EU macro-economic dialogue
The speakers for the European institutions like Council, Commission and ECB noted the improvements in employment rates recognizing many workers still remain without a job or in precarious employment.
To celebrate UN “World Cities Day” on 31 October, PSI has launched a global campaign to raise awareness and increase the visibility of the many essential public services delivered every day by municipal workers.
EPSU sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Serbia and to the Minister of Public Administration and Local Government. It highlights the concerns of Serbian trade unions organising in health and social care regarding a new system for the classification of professions and related pay grades for public service workers.
European Parliament supports demand for whistleblower protection – you can help by signing the petition
Following a campaign of unions such as EPSU and Eurocadres, many social action groups and MEPs of several parties, the European Parliament adopted a report on the need for an EU initiative on whistleblower protection, 24 October.
The concept of Just Transition was at the heart of the discussion at the EPSU’s Utilities Standing Committee where decarbonisation and digitalisation of the European economy were deeply debated amongst members.
The meeting primarily dealt with EPSU's current and future priority issues and with the topics "safe and adequate staffing levels", "prevention and reduction of musculoskeletal disorders and psycho-social risks and stress", "continuing professional development" and "regulated professions".
The meeting primarily dealt with the topics "Challenges and impacts of the provision of social services by private providers", "New forms/models of care and their effects on the provision of services, their quality and the workforce", "EU-level standardisation in health and elderly care services" and "Promotion of social dialogue in the field of social services".
Public procurement, digitalization, young workers, equality on the agenda of EPSU committee on Local Government
A first reflection on the themes and priorities for EPSU’s upcoming Congress in May 2019 was one of the items on the agenda of the local and regional government committee meeting on 19 September in Brussels.