I have been in office for almost one year and it has been interesting and exciting to meet with many unions in a wide range of activities around the world. I have learnt a lot of things, whether fighting for trade union rights or resisting privatization of public services, whether bringing PSI’s views for common goods into the international institutions or building alliances with civil society organizations to campaign for tax justice and against corruption.
I thank you all for your teachings, which help me better understand the threats, challenges and opportunities which lie ahead of us. Let me also take this opportunity to thank all of the PSI staff, in the regions and in the head office, who have supported and organized most of the work I was able to do during the year.
Unfortunately, many of our affiliates will still continue to suffer in 2014 because of the economic crisis and others will be affected by aggressive market-oriented policies, fruit of the ideological vision of globalization. This is why we need to consolidate some changes within PSI which will make us a more effective global voice for public sector workers and trade unions. We must be aware that we will have to face many challenges in the next few years, but I think that times of crisis and adversity require courage to change, clearness to communicate our message, resolution to pursue our objectives and strong cohesion and solidarity to act collectively.
Therefore, we will continue to expose violations of workers’ rights and our efforts will be directed towards implementing labour protection, collective bargaining and trade union rights for all public service workers. PSI will organize a global campaign and event on 4 June 2014, the “Route of Shame”, and call for all of our affiliates to organize parallel national events. Young workers’ rights and the protection of migrants will be at the heart of PSI activities in all the sectors.
We are well along the way to strengthening our sectoral presence and effectiveness, but more needs to be done. It is through the lens of our sectors that we connect our members at the workplace to the global dynamics. Our sector networks in the regions are up and running and 2014 is the time to test them in action as actors in the regional and global policy arena. We must build rapid response and solidarity tools which will grow and strengthen our unions, and reach out to new unions not yet in the PSI family. I am pleased to inform you that in 2014 our PSI activity will be enriched by the new sector “Education Support, Media and Culture Workers” and by the new Nurses’ forum and network for Fire Fighters.
We will also explore the sectoral implications of the on-going trade and investment negotiations - the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) - so that we can help connect our affiliates lobbying national governments with the global campaigns.
In 2014, Member States will agree on the priorities and overall architecture of the UN Post-2015 Agenda. So far, we can see a focus on health, energy, water and sanitation, gender equality and education. If we are not careful, we could see many more market initiatives dominating these public services. This is a matter of concern for all countries, not just the developing ones.
Next year, tax issues will have greater prominence on the G20 and OECD agendas. This is a good reason to give more emphasis to the “Tax Justice campaign” and bring it to the local level, providing to all unions information and opportunities to participate. Along with that, we must be able to spread our campaign against corruption which is already growing very quickly in many countries. We know that the response for adequate funding for public services is to be found in the fight against tax avoidance and evasion and against corruption. And we know that this is also the right response for more social justice. We are not alone in these campaigns: we have a range of powerful allies which recognise the fundamental role of trade unions and the importance of quality public services in building the societies we want.
Even if the world is not yet moving in the direction of more fairness, equity and justice, for 2014 the good news is that PSI has regained momentum, dynamism and excitement, which I have witnessed directly with all of you, in your countries and in your regions.
This is a great resource for our organization, but standing up to the difficult challenges in front of us will require the engagement and active participation of each and every union. I pledge that the PSI staff will do everything we can to help turn solid principles into practice.
With my best wishes for 2014,