Public Service Day 2018 : demanding information and consultation rights for all government workers
On 15 May, USF along with the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) began legal action against the European Commission. This is an unprecedented step for our organisation. The issues at stake are crucial for public sector workers and for the quality of public services. The European Commission’s refusal to accept the information and consultation agreement between trade unions and employers in central government administrations at European level puts the quality of the work of public sector staff at risk.
EPSU strongly believes that with this decision the Commission is undermining both the social dialogue and principle of equal treatment between all workers both of which were loudly reaffirmed in the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights just six months ago – co-signed by the Commission itself.
This year we want to mark World Public Service Day by reasserting that quality public services can only be provided if there is full respect for the trade union rights of those workers with the mission of delivering those services. The Commission’s withdrawal of its commitment to the social partner agreement, concluded by EPSU and the European Confederation of Independent Trade Unions (CESI) together with the European Public Administration Employers’ organisation (EUPAE), shows that this is not the case at the level of the European Union.
The Commission’s unwillingness to extend information and consultation rights to almost 10 million people working in central government administrations jeopardizes the future capacity to properly adapt to change and in a democratic manner.
The agreement closed an outdated loophole by granting central government workers similar EU legal rights as workers in the private sector. It provided trade union and workers’ representatives with information and consultation rights on issues such as restructuring, collective redundancies, working time and health and safety. The agreement deems it essential that a 21st century public administration must hear and take due account of what employees have to say on any changes affecting their workplace.
For the agreement to become effective (i.e. legally binding across all EU member states) after a request from the social partners, the Commission has to put the agreement forward as a proposal to the European Council for it to take a decision. The Commission refused to do this and as a consequence EPSU decided to take legal action.
For us it is very simple and we claim it on this Public Service Day: there is no workplace democracy without information and consultation rights and there are no quality public services without workplace democracy. Therefore, on World Public Service Day we want to show that we are fighting for quality public services in Europe and for the rights of workers providing those services.