PSI general secretary: ‘We must stop the race to the bottom’

Rosa Pavanelli tells delegates that “we must take democracy very seriously,” as she outlines global threat by multinational corporations

Decent work needs to be recognised everywhere, and the race to the bottom that is affecting public services all around the world because multinationals need to make a profit has to stop.

That was the message from Rosa Pavanelli, the general secretary of Public Services International (PSI), when she addressed UNISON’s annual conference in Brighton this morning.

As the UK went to the polls in the EU referendum, she said that it was “not easy to speak on a day like today”.

But the key issue of the referendum “has to do with our living conditions and democracy”.

“We must take democracy very seriously,” she told conference, and warned against the sort of rhetoric that culminates in violence.

Noting the Trade Union Bill and the fight against it, Ms Pavanelli said that “democracy is under attack” – not just in the UK or the European Union, but around the world.

She cited a number of issues – including that anti-union bill – that are not occurring in the UK because of the EU.

The 2008 financial crisis has given some on the right the opportunity to launch a “global attack” on workers’ rights, on welfare – and on democracy itself, as it is not just about the rich becoming richer, but a massive grab for power.

Trade deals such as CETA and TTIP “allow global corporates to define the rules,” said Ms Pavanelli.

We have defeated ISDS, she told the hall, but it has been replaced by something similar – yet that shows the embarrassment of those involved at word getting out about what they wanted.

PSI is fighting against the privatisation of public services around the world.

And she reminded delegates that the money for properly funded public services is available – trillions of dollars are known to be hidden in tax havens.

“We need to consider that tax evasion is a crime,” she said, to applause, adding that the UK government’s attack on the NHS is part of the global attack on public service provision that is part and parcel of the multinational corporates’ agenda.

But PSI is continuing to fight – and UNISON will continue to fight with it – against such an “unacceptable way to deal with common goods and the wellbeing of our society”, concluded Ms Pavanelli.