Public service unions argue for alternative responses to the crisis

{Press Communication, 31 May 2010} Leaders of public service unions from around Europe meeting in Brussels agreed that cuts to public sector pay, jobs and services were a narrow, inadequate and unfair response to the economic crisis. Union leaders pledged support and agreed to join in European wide mobilisation to promote quality public services, defend jobs and public service workers pay and conditions. The meeting of the Executive Committee of the EPSU public services federation heard how pay freezes and pay cuts were spreading across Europe. Details were given of 17 countries, including five from Eastern Europe outside the EU, where pay freezes, pay cuts, job cuts and recruitment freezes were part of the fiscal consolidation strategies being imposed by national governments, often in line with demands from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. EPSU general secretary, {{Carola Fischbach-Pyttel}} said: {{ {"Public services are more vital than ever. They are not just an important stabilizing mechanism but provide essential support to the millions of citizens who are suffering the worse consequences of the crisis."} }} She argued that the EU, IMF and national governments were seriously misguided if they thought that the level and quality of public services could be maintained if jobs were slashed and the morale of the remaining workers was undermined by pay cuts and freezes. “{{ {We are very concerned that governments across Europe are adopting a herd mentality in opting for these attacks on public sector workers’ pay and conditions. Cuts are not the solution and there are other measures that need to be considered. Tackling tax fraud is one, while increasing taxation has to be on the agenda. Progressive taxation is a vital way of ensuring there is an equitable share in funding public services and tackling the economic crisis. Large corporations and wealthy individuals have been evading taxes, employing an army of advisors to find loopholes, leaving workers to pick up the tab.} }}” Sufficient funding for Europe’s public services is essential to delivering the quality citizens and business desire in tax administration, control and collection, in labour inspectorates, health and elderly care, police, fire-fighting and other emergency services, environmental protection agencies and so many other services. National representatives spoke of how some governments had swept aside proper processes of social dialogue to impose the cuts. However, there were also positive examples of trade unions being able to influence government decisions about public spending and contribute to the development of more balanced recovery programmes. EPSU deputy general secretary, {{Jan Willem Goudriaan}}, stressed that European Commission proposals for greater economic coordination meant that the debate about fiscal consolidation was now very much at the European level. He said: “{{ {We understand the logic of improved coordination and greater surveillance of European economies and public spending. However, EPSU is extremely worried that the focus is far too narrow and fails to take any account of issues of social justice, equity, investment and the fundamental role of public services in responding to the crisis.} }}” He added that EPSU and its affiliates would ensure that the message that there is an alternative approach will be clearly communicated at national and European level in the lead up to the European Council meetings in 17 June and October. EPSU supports calls for more coordination action. The unions also adopted a joint statement (attached). The union leaders met 28 May and will express their position in the ETUC Executive Committee meeting 1 June. For more information please contact: Carola Fischbach-Pyttel, + 32 2 2501080 Or see : [>rub447] - Joint declaration
- Overview of proposed measures on public sector pay and jobs
- Press communication