Invest in quality public services now!

published 15 October 2010 updated 15 October 2010

In the face of cuts to public services, leaders of trade unions, governments and civil society have made the unprecedented joint commitment to work together.

Their aim is to promote investment in quality public services backed by fair tax policies as the key solution to the economic crisis, and the best way to build peaceful, equitable, democratic and ecologically-sustainable societies.

It is “our turn, our future” concluded participants in the international Quality Public Services—Action Now! conference in Geneva, Switzerland this week.

The Council of Global Unions, sponsor of the three-day conference attended by 400 delegates, announced the launch of a major global campaign guided by a charter and action plan that links local, national and international efforts to promote quality public services.

CGU chair, Aidan White, said: “This is a call to the trade union movement to advance its historic responsibility to work in broad social coalitions and act as a force for social change that improves the quality of life for all citizens. We don’t have time to lose.”

Executive director of Greenpeace International and co-chair of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, Kumi Naidoo, called for “a new activism” to back demands for quality public services as the foundation for social justice policies.

"History teaches us that when decent people take risks and engage in struggle peacefully, principally and courageously, pursuing civil disobedience where necessary, then those who occupy the instruments of power, in government or the financial sectors, listen and respond.”

President of Education International, Susan Hopgood, said: “We are conveying a powerful message in uniting as advocates for good schools, decent health services and social services, clean water and proper sanitation, effective fire and security services, affordable utilities, accessible communications and transport, public media and culture, and good public administration and municipal services. Quality public services provide the foundation for sustainable growth, equitably distributed, and the means for justice, good governance, and the exercise of democracy.”

International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITWF) General Secretary, David Cockroft, said the new campaign would start in selected cities as “a rallying point for the industrial and political power of the global union movement” and was needed “because public services benefit both private and public sector workers, our families and our communities.”

Public Services International (PSI) General Secretary, Peter Waldorff, said the campaign will show that as governments break collective agreements with impunity while cutting public services and benefits, unions and allies are applying new strategies that will build a more sustainable world and ensure social protection for all. “It’s time for action now!”

See Quality Public Services—Action Now! conference speeches and summaries at: QPS Conference website and Council of Global Unions website

To read the full speech by Susan Hopgood, please click here (pdf)