POP Congress Wrap-up - Newsletter No. 4
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Delegates to the PSI Congress express Solidarity with staff at the United Nations.


Trade unionists attending the PSI World Congress rallied yesterday at the Place des Nations in Geneva to show solidarity with workers of international organisations. Over 30% of the Unite Nations workforce are working in precarious positions, including short-term consultant contracts and unpaid internships. The issue of internships is a continuing concern for trade unionists as these forms of precarious employment are starting to replace entry level job opportunities for young workers. 
"How can we even begin to address the problem of increasing job insecurity in other sectors when the UN, the cradle of Human Rights, is itself exploiting or excluding thousands of young people each year through unpaid fellowships?" said Rosa Pavanelli, General Secretary of PSI, before delegates gathered at the Place des Nations. 
The General Secretary also called on the UN to change its administrative practices on unpaid status to "ensure that a budget allocation is made for all interns." Additionally, she called on the UN to review their labor policies "so that we all avoid precarious employment."

Solidaridad con el staff de la ONU expresó el Congreso de la ISP

Los sindicalistas que están asistiendo al Congreso Mundial de la ISP se congregaron ayer en la Plaza de las Naciones de Ginebra para mostrar su solidaridad con los trabajadores de las organizaciones internacionales. Más del 30% de la fuerza de trabajo de las Naciones Unidas está trabajando en posiciones precarias, incluidos contratos de consultores a corto plazo y pasantes no remuneradas. El tema de los pasantes es una preocupación constante para los sindicalistas, ya que estas formas de empleo precario están comenzando a reemplazar las oportunidades de trabajo de nivel inicial para los trabajadores jóvenes.

¿Cómo podemos siquiera empezar a abordar el problema de la creciente precariedad laboral en otros sectores cuando la ONU, la cuna de los Derechos Humanos, está ella misma explotando o excluyendo a miles de jóvenes cada año a través de prácticas no remuneradas?”, señaló ante los asistentes, Rosa Pavanelli, Secretaria General de la ISP, en un lugar que pocas veces ha recibido a tantos sindicalistas como es la Plaza de Las Naciones.

La representante de la ISP, además llamó a la ONU a modificar su instrucción administrativa sobre las prácticas no remuneradas “y garantizar que se lleve a cabo una asignación presupuestaria para todos los becarios”. Además, debe revisar sus políticas laborales “con el fin de que todos evitemos el empleo precario”.


The future of work in public services

The labour market of the future is not yet formed, it will be what we make of it, said ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder in the panel on the future of work in public services on Wednesday morning. “Technology dominates almost every debate and article about the future of the labor market, but many other factors will have an influence, for example trade unions,” he said. “Technology will not destroy as many jobs in the next 10 years as Lehman Brothers destroyed in the last ten years.

Karen Gregory, Lecturer in Digital Sociology, University of Edinburgh, UK, took up what she called Platform Capitalism. “Technology always changes the nature of work, it changes the infrastructure. Technology is never neutral, somebody owns it and has an agenda, but also, technology is labour.”

Technology was a common theme for several panellists. Serena Sorrentino, General Secretary, Funzione Pubblica CGIL, Italy, added “new technology means workers need to have more professional skills. It will give greater strength to trade unions.”

Marcelo Di Stefano, International Relations secretary for the Asociación del Personal de la Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina, said, “Technology can be an instrument for progress, for example in climate change, universal education or health. We need to take charge of technology and own it,” he added.
 Karen Gregory concluded by saying “Technology will continue to change the nature of work, but people, politics and culture matter.”


Sustainable urbanisation and public services

Societies and working life are changing fast. More people than ever are moving from rural areas to cities in search for jobs and a better life. How can cities and municipalities handle the huge migration and be sustainable and offer quality public services at the same time?

The speakers in panel 4 with the aptly title Heaven or hell, should try to give good answers to these questions. Despite political differences in their countries, the panellists agreed that a strong, public sector is the best to take care of the inhabitants needs for available and public services of good quality.

-We have four simple answers to why welfare services should be the responsibility of public sector, said Mark Hancock, president in The Canadian Union for Public Employees. It is cheaper, quality is better, the availability is better, it gives the employees safer jobs and better wages. Now we have to convince the politicians that they should do as we say.

Ibrahim Khaleel Abudlkadir president, Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees explained that the most important fight now for his union and the members, is to ensure the independence of the 274 municipalities in the country. – According to the Nigerian Constitution, the municipalities should be secured money to drive their public services from the 36 states, but very often the money from the central state stops here. Because of this, many of our members have not got their salaries the last 4-8 months, said Abdulkadir.

-This is why it is crucial to win this time. We have the Nigerians people with us, our members are active and I do believe that we’ll manage to change the Constitution this time.


Public services in a just global economy

Public services are more important than we think. They are important both for the local communities, and also for maintaining stability in society,” said Ann Pettifor, Economist at the City University and New Economist Foundation in South Africa, when she spoke in the panel “Public services in a just global economy” on Wednesday afternoon.

“We must not allow multinational companies to go offshore. They should be forced back on shore. They put themselves over the democratic system. As soon as somebody even mentions taxes, they disappear. But they are weak; they have lots of debt and are afraid of risk. The “roaring lion” of the public sector should step up and take control,” she said.

Dennis Kristensen, president of the Confederation of Municipal Employees in Denmark told the audience about the Nordic welfare model.

“We are proud of our system. It is based on relatively high taxes which in turn pay for a high level of welfare. Unfortunately, we are moving in the wrong direction. In the old days, we agreed on the level on welfare and set the taxes in accordance with it. Now we do the opposite - taxes are lower and the level of welfare is reduced too. It’s a race towards the bottom,” said Kristensen.


Public policy for Sale?

Among the first things Donald Trump did after becoming President was to make working conditions worse for public employees. We have to compete for our jobs, and services are outsourced and privatized very fast,” said David J. Cox, President of the American Federation of Government Employees.

Cox continued to attack Trump in his opening speech in the panel Public Policy for Sale. “Trump attacks media, the freedom of speech, he wants to prohibit Muslims and he puts people up against each other. He wants to politicize the whole workforce and gives jobs to his republican friends. Do we want to be led by a republican or by a person who is competent to do their job?”, Cox asked rhetorically. Former minister from Iceland and former PSI Executive Board member, Ögmundur Jónasson, approached the topic from a historical viewpoint. “There are three main reasons for privatizing,” he said. “It’s because someone wants to earn money, because it gives you power and access to policy decisions and policy development. The third reason is the aim to force public services into the same mould as the private sector. When public services are public it’s much more difficult to implement cutbacks and to dismiss people,” he said.

Ariel Pringles, Unión de Empleados de la Justicia Nacional, Argentina, emphasized the importance of highlighting problems concerning corruption and mistakes made by the politicians and big companies. “We need collective solutions and global strategies to disclose the consequences. We need international rules to protect the whistleblowers,” he said.

To stop the attacks on public services and public employees we must organise, organise and organise,” said David Cox. Not only the panel, but the whole congress agreed with him.

One Day Premiere

Karen Gregory, a professor of Digital Technology at the University of Edinburgh talks about the negatives and positives of computer platform capitalism.
ILO Director-General Guy Ryder warns not to focus solely on technology as we consider the future of work.
3rd NOV - 08:00 - @ROOM 1+2+3+4

Pledge to #EndViolenceAgainstWomen

Promesa de poner fin a la violencia contra las mujeres
Engagement pour mettre fin à la violence faite aux femmes

#EndVAW - #MeToo - #Ihavesignedthepledge - #Ihave - #EndViolenceagainstWomen - #PSICongress2017

Don't forget to wear orange! 

3rd NOV - 09:00 - @ROOM 1+2+3+4
Panel 9 - Bread and Roses: Hearts starve as well as bodies
3rd NOV- 14:00h - @ROOM 1+2+3+4
Congress closing
Public Services International is a global trade union federation representing 20 million working women and men who deliver vital public services in 154 countries. PSI champions human rights, advocates for social justice and promotes universal access to quality public services. PSI works with the United Nations system and in partnership with labour, civil society and other organisations.
Copyright © 2017 Public Services International, All rights reserved.

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