Defend the Public Service!

Defend the Public Service!

Resolution Network Meeting may 8. 2010 in Helsinki: The network of trade unionists in and close to the Party of the European Left fully supports the demand of EPSU and other European unions to defend the public service all over Europe.

We fully support the EPSU Public Service Pledge of 2009 with regard to the « Foundations » for Energy, Local Government, National Administrations and Water.

We would like to add that we will act against any attempt towards liberalisation and/or privatisation of local and regional public transport, waste management and social services. We strongly oppose the European commission’s claim that Social Services of General Interest shall be regarded as pursuing « economic activities » and thus fall under the scope of EU internal market rules (competition, state aid, procurement etc.)

For our part, we would like to underline that we commit ourselves to a stronger pledge on several aspects covered by the EPSU proposal.

1.    « Foundations for a positive attitude to public services »

The European Union and public services

As network we take the view that public services and the Not-For-Profit-Sector (e.g. the Social Economy or « Third Sector ») are to be regarded as sector in its own right which has to be regulated solely according to public interest obligations in order to deliver public goods for the EU’s population.
Therefore, we demand profound changes in the existing EU-Treaties with the aim to exempt Services of General (Economic) Interest and the NON-For-Profit-Sector from the EU’s internal market rules. We strongly believe that only then public services will be able to fulfill their tasks properly on a path towards sustainable development and towards guaranteeing universal equal social rights for all.
The Protocol on Services of general Interest (Lisbon Treaty)  in itself is insufficient to provide for a clear exemption of public services or more broadly services of general (economic) interest from internal market rules. To that end, the respective Articles of the EC treaty need to be revised.
Furthermore, it must be ensured that public services (such as e.g. adult learning) do not fall within the scope of EU Services Directive. In this context, we also would like to point out our opposition to the Lisbon Treaty and our support for the French, Dutch and Irish « No » in the past to it. 
We think that also in the public sector, fundamental rights and especially the right to strike and to collective bargaining must always have priority over the so-called internal market freedoms.
Therefore, we also pledge that we will support the inclusion of such a « Social Progress Clause » in EU primary law (by the way of a protocol to the European Treaties). Only by such an instrumental return of the infamous « Bolkestein ».-principles can be blocked. All workers in Europe must have the right to the standards of a social protection, collective bargaining and remuneration as granted in the country where they carry out service activities – the principle of equal pay for equal work or work of equal value at the same place must be fully respected and implemented.
Of course, we pledge to support quality public services and an EU policy to strengthen them, and also to support collective bargaining and European social dialogue.

Working Time Directive

We welcome that EPSU had taken a critical position to the planned new working time directive that had failed.
We therefore pledge that we will oppose any such weakening of the existing EU Directive on Working Time. We insist on a proper implementation of the Court rulings on the call-time, which must be fully regarded as working time, and that compensatory rest must be granted immediately after a combined period for calculating the average maximum weekly working time may at least only be possible on the strict condition of collective agreements.
We pledge that we will continue to fight for a revision of the Working Time Directive which lowers the maximum weekly working time to 40 hours – this is the actual weekly working time on average in the EU-27- and promotes the reconciliation of work life and non-work-life via collective working time reduction. The latter is also and urgent policy task for member states in order to fight rising unemployment in the current economic recession.

Foundations of Health

The planned EU-commissions proposal for a Directive on the application of patient’s rights in cross-border healthcare has failed in the 1st step. But we fully support to articulate legal personality for the principles of accessibility, solidarity, affordability and universality in the context of health services delivery.
We declare without any doubt that we completely reject the approach the EU-commission had and say: health care is not a matter for the EU-internal market, but falls within the scope of public services and social protection systems. All matters of patient mobility and application of patient rights must be regulated within the existing EU-framework of the coordination of social protection system.