On 4-5 May, Europe’s public service union leaders met for the first time in a physical meeting since the beginning of the pandemic and dealt with a very full agenda. The EPSU Executive Committee started with urgent discussions over developments in Belarus and Ukraine.
The meeting expressed its solidarity with leaders of the independent Belarusian trade union confederation BKDP, many of whom were arrested 19 April with several still in jail. We also used the occasion to welcome a BKDP affiliate – the SPB medical workers’ union – as a new member.
Valery Matov, the president of the nuclear workers’ union and member of the EPSU Executive Committee for Ukraine joined us via a video-link. He painted a grim picture of what workers in Ukraine are facing – workplaces destroyed, systematic attacks on hospitals and medical facilities, aggression and war crimes committed by the Russian army along with massive social and economic costs. Valery thanked his fellow unionists in the Executive and many who were not present for their solidarity. The meeting discussed the values of the union movement, resistance in times of war and under authoritarian regimes and what we expect of the EPSU elected representatives. It then took the difficult decision to suspend the Russian affiliates. It will be important to build a joint vision for how Europe can again achieve peace and security and how we work for democracy and social progress following the war.
New affiliates welcomed
Along with the SPB, we welcomed several new members – SPAL, the Finnish union for firefighters and rescue workers, CFDT finance (customs, tax, ministry) from France, the STSSSS social care union from Portugal and the electricity distribution union from Serbia.
EPSU Congress 2024
The dates of the next EPSU Congress were announced – 17-20 June 2024 in Bucharest, Romania. In November, we will set up the committees to prepare Congress. The constitutional committee will consider matters like suspension while the resolutions committee will consider the key issues facing the federation such as organising and recruitment and the social dialogue. In the meantime, the Executive Committee approved the work programme covering the period until Congress and the affiliation fees for 2023 and 2024.
The Executive Committee expressed its support for the strike of Finnish municipal workers. Around 80,000 workers in 10 cities have been on strike to underline to the employers the need for higher pay and better conditions. It is a fight that many unions are having as workers across Europe are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet due to rising inflation and higher costs for food and energy. Public service workers deserve a pay increase. The Executive Committee also sent its support to two groups of workers that EPSU represents which play key roles in our societies: firefighters and midwives as May 4th is International Firefighters Day and the 5th is International Day of the Midwife.
23 June 2022 is the European Action Day
The United Nations has established 23 June as Public Service Day to celebrate the contribution of public service workers to our communities. It is for us also a day of action against austerity, privatisation, the commercialisation of care and public services. It is a day of action for higher pay, better working conditions, more staff and resources to deliver the quality of services that people need and deserve. We ask all unions to join in. With the Belgian unions and Dutch FNV we will organise actions in Brussels. We look forward to a successful day to show to employers, governments and others our common purpose to deliver change and another world; a better world.