Voices for a different Europe. Ending austerity, fighting privatization and pay freezes

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A groundbreaking report on remunicipalisation is now available with information on over 835 examples of services being brought back under public ownership or control. The report is published by the Transnational Institute (TNI) with the support of EPSU – the European Federation of Public Service Unions.  While EPSU has been aware of some of the trends, what is astonishing is the scale of the process, with so many cases and countries covered. EPSU had reported on many remunicipalisations in the water sector. The study from TNI shows that it is happening across the entire public sector and not just in Europe but internationally.

Why are people around the world reclaiming essential services from the private sector? Why do they bring delivery of public services back into public hand?  This book provides the answer. The private sector mantra is that it can deliver services more efficiently and of a higher quality. This is simply not backed up by the facts. The book also describes that bringing services back into public hands is a very participative process. It takes account of the opinion of workers and citizens. It deals with the particularities of the service and the place where it is delivered rather than the financial and operational rigidities of a multinational company. The 835 cases come from all over the world, involving more than 1,600 cities in 45 countries. Remunicipalisation is taking place everywhere from small towns to capital cities, following different models of public ownership and with various levels of involvement of citizens and workers. This is social innovation in the making. Great news for those who have been defending quality public services for such a long time.

Yet the European Union continues to negotiate away our public services in dodgy, non-transparent trade agreements. After the public uproar against the CETA agreement (Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement between Canada and the EU) we now learn that the EU is reaching the final stage of negotiations on a trade deal with Japan. Hardly any information is publicly available. Is CETA the model for this new agreement or is it worse even? It is likely to be another agreement with the infamous Investor State Dispute Settlement in it, posing the same dangers for public services. Japan has not ratified fundamental ILO Conventions like the Discrimination convention C111.  EPSU and the Japanese affiliates of Public Services International (our international sister organisation) have jointly called for more scrutiny, rejecting any deal that harms public services and workers.

Many thanks to all for your support for the EPSU action on 23 June (Global Public Services Day).  Lots of affiliates sent us their pictures of support for the action that Europe’s public service workers deserve a pay rise. If you have not yet done so, please send us pictures of your co-workers and union members with the campaign logo. Together we can end austerity and change the direction of Europe.