One thing is clear – today’s Europe is off-course. As budgets are cut and jobs slashed, the quality and accessibility of public services throughout Europe is at stake.
Last week, UNISON set out a blueprint for an Alternative Europe, on behalf of 265 trade unions that represent eight million public service workers across Europe.
The current policies across Europe of austerity, public-sector cutbacks and worsening pay and conditions affect people everywhere.
Workers, families and communities are under attack as unscrupulous employers and governments try to roll back the gains brought about by the welfare state and workers’ rights.
Wages are down and pensions frozen or reduced.
Many years after Lehman Brothers, the European agenda is still putting markets, corporate power and profit over people’s well being.
We want to build a Europe where the public sector has sufficient, well-trained, motivated and well-paid staff.
Where collective bargaining and trade unions can play their full part.
Where nobody is discriminated against because of their individual characteristics or beliefs.
Public service trade unions have had success in resisting austerity and attacks on workers and public services. Millions of people have taken part in demonstrations and strikes to defend hospitals, fire stations and water companies.
Councils are bringing public services back under local control as they see that outsourcing does not deliver benefits. And we have had success in building support for our alternatives, such as the Right2Water and the Tax Justice campaigns.
We must continue to face up to new challenges to build a Europe that invests in sustainable growth and employment.
Together, with our message of resistance and alternatives, we can change course and reclaim our Europe.