The International Campaign Against Public Service Cuts

Back to all Motions

2011 National Delegate Conference
28 February 2011
Carried as Amended

The Conservative government, with the support of the Liberal Democrats, is attacking our public services. UNISON faces many challenges in defending these services and those who work hard to deliver them. Our union’s record of international solidarity can strengthen UNISON’s response.

Across the European Union national governments and the European Commission are pursuing policies aimed at austerity; combining cuts in public services with severe attacks on public service workers’ terms and conditions. Greece and Ireland have received the most attention because they are part of the Euro-zone but the governments of Latvia and Romania, amongst others, have implemented equally drastic cuts. The crisis in the Euro-zone has exposed the role and the power of international credit rating agencies and the global finance markets when targeting countries with high levels of public debt. At the same time unelected officials from the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund are dictating to national governments about public expenditure and getting directly involved in decisions relating to pay and conditions of public sector workers, by-passing or ripping-up existing collective agreements. Conference notes that within the EU the emphasis is on making workers pay for the financial crisis, both in the conditions that have been attached to the assistance provided to Ireland and Greece, but also in the draft Competitiveness Pact. Conference notes that UNISON has maintained its opposition to the neo liberalism at the heart of EU economics since its inception, and believes that we must continue to do so.

While the impact of the financial crisis has been different in the global South, economies are now more fragile, public services are at greater threat from liberalisation, food prices are more at risk from speculation and aid funding is being withdrawn and diverted. It is right that UNISON’s priority should be to defend public services in the UK, but we must continue to work together with the international trade union movement to defend public services everywhere and promote an internationalist agenda. We can learn from the struggles of trade unionists in other countries and their successes can inspire us. We welcome the general strikes in countries such as France, Greece, Portugal and Spain.

The international arena also offers key policy alternatives. UNISON is an active supporter of the Robin Hood Tax. This tiny tax on financial transactions could generate billions of pounds for public services and international development around the world. Campaigns to change the global financial structures and international terms of trade, protected by the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation, have never been more pertinent.

UNISON resolves to:

1)work with the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), Public Services International (PSI) and other European and international trade union bodies to which UNISON is affiliated, as well as sister unions in individual countries, to build campaigns in defence of public services and public service workers, including international days of action;

2)disseminate information about international trade union anti-cuts campaigning to UNISON members through UNISON’s communications channels and the network of branch international officers;

3)continue to campaign for a financial transactions tax, such as the Robin Hood Tax campaign, and for the UK to take a unilateral position on implementing one;

4)actively promote UNISON’s critical policies on the EU among our membership in our campaigning and educational activities as a matter of urgency,

5)work with international development organisations to support UNISON’s domestic and international campaigning against public services cuts.