Thousands of health and care workers marched through Brussels on 7 May to demand more resources and more staff for the sector. They want more public money to improve services and not to end up in the coffers of shareholders. The Belgian affiliates in this sector mobilized over the kinds of demands that many unions are making throughout Europe. Two days later French public service workers organised a national strike and demos throughout the country, calling for more resources, staff and pay after years of austerity. 9 May is also what the European institutions call Europe Day. Quite symbolic really, as European austerity policies demanded and supported by the majority of governments of Member States have contributed to the mess our public services are in.
What is also a mess is our environment. The comprehensive report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) tells us that we are exploiting and destroying our natural environment, endangering about a million species of plants and animals. And the researchers, as with the many young people and workers who have been joining the climate strikes and marches, recognise that it is our economic system that is to blame.
A recent Eurobarometer opinion poll underlines that most people see the EU level as the relevant level for action. And that aligns very well with what Europe’s unions want in the EU2019 elections – a Fair Europe for Workers, with stronger bargaining, strengthened workers’ rights and more equality. The Eurosceptics, nationalists and the far-right have no solutions to offer here. Their values offer no support for example for the trade unionists on trial on 8 May in Turkey. A delegation from the UK public service union Unison observed the trial as did staff from EU embassies. We do care about solidarity, social justice and democracy, about people and our planet, and not about profits for the few. This is the last newsletter before the European Parliamentary elections. I ask you all to make a last push over the next weeks so that we limit the success of those who want to destroy our democracy.
Just how fragile democracies are in the light of authoritarian leaders and regimes was underlined by the decision to annul the results of the local elections in Istanbul. Despite the fact that the results were approved after a recount, the government party which was thrown out of power in the city did not accept the results. A re-run of the elections will now take place on 23 June. These elections and the outcomes are important for the Turkish unions organising workers in municipal services because a change of party control in the municipality can lead to a loss of contracts, dismissals and pressure to switch to another union.
There is less than a month to go before we meet in Dublin for the EPSU Congress. Our 8th Congress briefing is ready. It deals with migration and will inform delegates of what we have done and what we stand for as EPSU. The final issues for Congress will be discussed in the Executive Committee on 15 May. It has a full agenda. Not only will we deal with our Congress, but we’ll also look at the ETUC Congress and discuss giving a mandate to the ETUC to start cross-sector negotiations on digitalisation. And we will have the finance report for 2018.. It will show that we are a healthy Federation, not without its challenges but ready to respond to them.