Today is the World Day for Decent Work – a day where workers and their unions demand better protection against employers and exploitation. Stronger trade union and collective bargaining rights ensure that workers can have decent work and pay. Unions across the world have responded to the call of the ITUC global trade union confederation and are involved in many actions and protests.
One of the largest actions is taking place in Kiev where thousands of workers are joining a rally of the Ukrainian trade union confederations. They are protesting against the relentless attacks on trade union rights by the government which is seeking to liberalise the labour market.
The government is even employing former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili to chair its reform committee despite the fact that he is wanted for abuse of power in his home country. The abolition of labour inspectorates was just one of his “reforms”, leading to an increase in accidents that took years to undo. He made the work of trade unions progressively more difficult. More recently, he called trade unions parasites in a TV interview in Ukraine. He is clearly aiming to create an anti-union climate - one that welcomes the kind of corrupt oligarchs exposed in the Pandora tax papers.
EPSU has asked the European Commission to distance itself from those remarks and act against the Ukrainian government for its attacks on the unions. We sent a solidarity letter to the Ukrainian unions, and I am proud to see unionists on the march with EPSU banners. Making our joint Federation visible will strengthen the voice we have as unions.
EPSU is supporting other actions, such the demonstration in Vilnius by Lithuanian urban transport workers who are defending their rights and opposing outsourcing. EPSU sent a letter of support to workers and one of protest to the company, calling on it to engage in social dialogue. In another action, the youth councils of the Russian health care workers’ union have staged several actions under the banner “Let's protect social guarantees for healthcare workers!". Dozens of trade union activists took part in an online flash mob, including medical students and employees of medical institutions.
In Brussels, EPSU staff are joining a protest of the ETUC and the Belgian unions, demanding action from the European Commission to protect platform workers. The European Commission is due to publish legislation on this before the end of the year. We hope that this legislation will be in line with recent national court cases against Uber and other platforms that have made clear these are to be considered as employers. Platforms have also emerged in the care sector and this will be a focus of our work going forward. On World Day for Decent Work the Russian trade unions will focus on improving quality of collective agreements
These platforms run on digital technologies, using algorithms and forms of artificial intelligence to allocate work to and monitor workers. The European Parliament and governments are considering legislation to regulate how digital services can operate and how to create a digital market. We share the concerns of many that workers, the people and the public interest should define these legislative packages and not the commercial interests of big tech companies. We will aim to influence these discussions in cooperation with ETUC.
Please check out the EPSU Telegram news channel where we have posted a series of podcasts. Journalist Eve Livingston talks about her new book Make Bosses Pay and why it is important to join unions, and Andreas Bieler, Professor of political economy at University of Nottingham in the UK, speaks about the struggles of water and social movements and how we can affect change. And take a look at the short video on rising energy prices in Europe. Enjoy - and let us know what you think.