Public Services Day: European education unions join the movement for a public service workers’ pay rise

published 23 June 2017 updated 27 June 2017

For Public Services Day, Education International’s European region, the European Trade Union Committee for Education, has reasserted that, after nine years of austerity, Europe’s public sector workers, including teachers, deserve a pay rise.

On 23rd June, Public Services Day, the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) and the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) highlight the contribution made by millions of public service workers to maintain quality services while suffering the long-term effects of pay cuts and pay freezes. Public service workers do not deserve this treatment.

In their joint press release, they remind of “the wide range of education, health, social and other key services delivered all day and everyday by public service workers”.

They also deplore that austerity has taken “a significant toll” on the jobs, pay and conditions of public service workers across Europe, and that “governments didn’t hesitate to bail out the banks to stabilise the world economy following the financial crisis,” “but then they did not hesitate either to impose public spending cuts with public service workers and the services they deliver to people as the main targets.”

Across Europe, the trade union federations stress, 19 countries imposed pay cuts or pay freezes affecting over 20 million workers during the first years of the crisis. Job cuts and recruitment freezes and the spread of precarious employment conditions increased the pressure on those still in work to deliver more while being paid less. While pay has gradually returned to normal levels in some countries, millions of workers continue to see a major loss of purchasing power, they condemned.

“We cannot ignore the legacy of pay cuts and pay freezes on teachers and other public service workers,” ETUCE Director Susan Flocken stressed. “We are challenged with increasingly  precarious employment conditions and a shortage of education personnel. Trade unions play an important role in campaigning for decent working conditions and decent salaries. An attractive and rewarding teaching profession based on high quality education lays the foundation for our society, for our future.”

The ETUCE also welcomed the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) Pay Rise campaign,highlighting that European workers need a pay rise, and that collective bargaining has to be restored, encouraged and promoted as the only way to tackle wealth and wage inequalities across Europe.

The ETUCE called upon all its member organisations to take action and join the campaign at the occasion of the Public Services Day, focusing on public services workers, defending education as a public good, and opposing the durable impact of deteriorating living and working conditions for all education personnel.