Solidarity greetings Nordic unions for striking workers on World Health Day

(7 April 2016) Health and care workers are standing up for decent work and better care in many countries on World Health Day 7 April 2016. Public service and health workers are striking in Lombardia 48-hour strike continues today. The junior doctors fight the imposition by the government of changes to their working hours.

The international secretaries of the Nordic EPSU affiliates sent all the workers solidarity greetings. Workers in these countries face cuts in funding undermining quality of services. Workloads increase. The Danish government seeks billions in cuts for funding of the municipalities. This will hurt health, education , child and elderly care services pushing. Unions and municipalities are mobilizing. The Finnish government equally is demanding savings in public services. It is commercializing service provision further. Workers will be forced into corporations. Negotiations continue on longer working time and cuts in holiday/x-mas pay. EPSU and several European networks are organizing actions on world health day. We protest the increasing commercialization of health and other care services and the impact this has on workers and people.

The Nordic unions met to discuss these challenges facing workers in their countries as well as in Europe. They discussed with the EPSU General Secretary the priorities of our common work and the political challenges facing workers in Europe. Through our work in ETUC we face up to further integration in the Eurozone and the European economic semester. We will address with ETUC the proposals of the Commission for a pillar of social rights. We are critical of the demands of the Commission to create Competitiveness Boards, rejecting the intrusion into collective bargaining and the autonomy of the social partners. Addressing tax evasion, changing Europe’s economic policy of austerity, keeping public services out of trade, sheltering and protecting refugees will require the European unions to act together to have influence. And to have influence we need strong unions at the work place, in the sectors and in society. Focusing resources on organizing and campaigning is therefore important. EPSU has taken several initiatives in this regard. EPSU can contribute to the exchange of experience. Within EPSU we can discuss what works and what does not work. We can focus on areas of common interest and importance while assisting those unions that face more challenges, especially in Central and Eastern Europe. With further initiatives taken in many unions, in the PSI as well as ETUC and ITUC this gains more prominence in the union movement.

The group addressed the upcoming PSI World Congress. This will take place in October 2017. The PSI Executive Board will have first discussions on priorities for the next congress period at its meeting in May 2016. It will also consider the areas in which amendments need to be made to the PSI constitution.

Aida Ponce of the European Trade Union Institute exchanged views with the colleagues on health and safety policy, the impact of the EU Better Regulation agenda and work on carcinogens. Enforcing health and safety is the theme for World Memorial Day 27 April. On this day workers and unions recall those who are killed and injured in work place accidents.

The meeting took place 6 April 2016, Copenhagen.

- For more information and background material on World Health Day actions