Education International
Education International

Union communicators working together in times of crisis

published 20 January 2012 updated 25 January 2012

At its recent meeting in London, the Global Unions Communication Task Force, which consists of representatives of EI, ITUC, PSI, ITF, UNI and the other global union federations, affirmed that, in the current economic climate with its multiple attacks on workers' rights, it is time for the private and public sector unions to unite in solidarity and defend the public services that build strong, equitable and sustainable communities that benefit everybody.

"It is time for a global response to governments that are pursuing measures that shift the economic and social burden of the economic crisis further onto the shoulders of working people," said David Cockroft, General Secretary of the International Transport Workers Federation, and chair of the Task Force. Peter Waldorf, General Secretary of Public Services International, who also attended the meeting, concluded: "In Egypt, the United States, Greece, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere, working people are demanding a world where fair wages, decent jobs, vital public services and citizens' voices are valued more than tax cuts, corporate bonuses and media monopolies." As part of the worldwide Quality Public Service campaign, National Nurses United (NNU), the biggest union for Registered Nurses in the US with 170,000 members, recently launched a nationwide campaign to support the introduction of a financial transactions tax. Such an instrument, the union affirmed, could help to pay back for the damage banks have wrought over the last years. ITUC and the global unions have sought the introduction of such a tax since the beginning of the current economic crisis. Its introduction is now supported by many governments, especially in Europe, as a means of making the financial sector pay its fair share of the cost of the public services which it uses and as a means of controlling its excess income. Chuck Idelson, Director of Communications at NNU, presented the different initiatives union members undertook for the campaign: Tying in with the Occupy Movement, for example, NNU produced a campaign video calling for bankers to be held responsible for their actions.

Moving from the national to the global stage, a delegation of nurses attended the G20 meeting in Cannes, staging a protest action together with actor Bill Nighy, demanding that world leaders  introduce a financial transactions tax on a global basis.

Other local initiatives for the Quality Public Services campaign included demonstrations and workshops in cities around the world, for example in Durban and Bangkok. Recommendations and reports from the Taskforce Meeting will be discussed by the Council of Global Unions, which will meet in Geneva next week, to determine the further collective course of action on these issues.