“As public sector workers we have special responsibilities and the best opportunities to build alliances with members of civil society to deliver quality public services for the benefit of all,” she said.
“We must find new ways to build political strength. Focusing on collective bargaining rights is no longer enough. We must develop social unionism and reach out to new allies, in order to build a better world. But we must never forget that our strength and identity starts in our workplaces. Supporting campaigning, advocacy, networking and organising in workplace sectors is key to increasing and representing our membership.”
Pavanelli emphasized the need to develop “a long-term vision that will win against the greed of the capital market.”
She committed to establishing a network of young workers to support the growth and success of PSI, adding, “We will increase our efforts to defend and advance women’s rights, especially as the effects of the financial crisis continue to hurt women the most. We will pursue our agenda to end harassment, discrimination and racism. We can make change and we can create a fair society where everyone has equal rights and opportunities.”
Pavanelli noted that priorities in PSI’s new programme of action for the next five years include blocking privatisation of public services, achieving fair taxation – including through financial transactions taxes, and developing the strength of PSI’s sectoral work.
PSI’s new leader comes from Italy’s Federation of Public Employees (Federazione Lavoratori Funzione Pubblica FP-CGIL).
Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, UK, has been acclaimed as President of PSI. “The stories that we’ve heard in this Congress, and the inspiration we’ve gained, have set PSI on a new path,” he said.
“We’ve got a tremendous job to do over the next five years and we need to work together in solidarity and in harmony. We need to stand up for dignity and respect. Trade unions were created for the hard times, not the easy times. It is the people in this room who will ensure we build peaceful and fair societies as we move our agenda forward. There will be new battles along the way, but working in solidarity I know we will succeed,” Prentis concluded.
The 2012 PSI Public Service Trade Union Award was given to the All-Japan Prefectural and Municipal Workers Union (JICHIRO) in recognition of the union’s remarkable leadership, courage and commitment in coming to the aid of citizens following the Great East Japan earthquake, and subsequent tsunami and nuclear disaster of March 11, 2011. The members of JICHIRO, through their continuing efforts in Japan and solidarity work throughout the world, have shown the key role that public service workers play in times of disaster.
The award was accepted by JICHIRO Vice-President Hiroaki Aragane. He noted that there is still much work to be done, and that the clean-up of Fukushima continues to be of critical concern. However, he said, “We are pleased that our resolution on building a disaster resilient society through quality public services was resoundingly adopted by Congress. The people who participated in the relief efforts will feel inspired by this recognition.”
In a colourful ceremony, South African host affiliates passed the flag to PSI Asia Pacific representatives, who propose to host the next PSI World Congress in Singapore 2017.
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