On 29 September 2010, the European Trades Union Confederation (ETUC) is organizing a European Action Day to protest against the austerity measures and the unfair way in which these measures are being implemented throughout Europe.
The trades unions which form the governing majority would like to encourage you to take part in this action day. Why? First and foremost, because as salaried workers and citizens, all of us in the European service are affected by these measures and we need to show solidarity. Moreover, our trades unions’ vocation is to defend the entire European public service i.e. everyone who works here (whether officials, temporary agents or contract agents) and not just permanent officials, since we are all working towards our common European goal in our respective institutions.
European salaried workers, both in the private and public sectors – and especially civil servants at national and European level – are in practice the only ones who are having to pay for the greedy and irresponsible behavior of the financial institutions: the institutions which preferred to speculate rather than carry out the role for which they were set up, namely to finance the real economy, growth and quality job creation.
This crisis, which mainly affects salaried workers, retired people and the unemployed, is the result of a frenzy of financial market deregulation measures, willingly pursued by states and encouraged by international institutions, including the European Union.
In the name of “financial integration”, the financial services sector has been allowed to take over the economy. The virtual economy has taken precedence over the real economy.
In the name of “economic efficiency” a new economic ideology has taken hold: the “human factor”, as today’s personnel managers prefer to call it, is just “a variable adjustment cost”.
In the name of creating a European financial area, the common good has been sacrificed in favour of vested interests, sectors such as hedge funds, commercial banks or the City.
This virtual economy with its complex mechanisms designed to mask its unfairness and artificial nature led to the world crisis, which began in the USA with the fall of Lehman Brothers Bank.
What have our political masters done to put an end to this systemic crisis? Or to correct the malfunctions which led to the crisis? Nothing. On the other hand:
– The international bodies (G20, IMF etc.) by issuing numerous declarations have succeeded in putting out the fire before it could actually harm those who caused the fire in the first place. So much for a systemic answer!
– Regional organizations such as the EU have tried to introduce new rules which do not aim to correct any malfunctions or the real causes of the crisis but are designed to stop them from “becoming too serious”. So much for regulation and trying to impose some kind of moral behaviour – of course we would not want to do anything which might jeopardize our “competitiveness”!
– As for our member states’ governments, they have placed the full burden of paying for this crisis on the victims not the authors:
* By reducing old age pensions, using demographics as an excuse while failing to take into account the extra unemployment costs brought about by speculative relocation
* By making it ever more difficult to obtain permanent employment contracts and by calling into question employees’ basic rights (social security, retirement). The middle classes, the basis for democracy in Europe, are gradually being “downgraded” and their fear for their status is being used against them.
* By calling into question the very idea of public service (free, public education, universal healthcare, etc.). This could lead to disintegration of our societies and even to an erosion of our democratic values.
* By looking for scapegoats. So too are national and European civil servants. It is they – not the traders or speculators – who find themselves pilloried in public for their so –called “privileges”.
The “cures” for this crisis have been just as unfair as the causes of this crisis.
The basic unfairness of the austerity measures is likely to derail the economic recovery, which in turn could increase unemployment and lead to even greater unfairness.
The European public service is the only instrument available to the institutions to promote the common good at European level.
We hope you will help us demonstrate that we also have a role to play by taking part in this march on 29 September from the Midi Station to the Cinquantenaire from 13.00 hrs. till 15.00 hrs.
We too must help encourage the Commission and member states to take into account at last the anxiety felt by our fellow European citizens and to devise solutions more in keeping with the solidarity implicit in the European social model.