The Council of Global Unions is organising a landmark conference “Quality Public Services – Action Now!” from 12-14 October 2010 in Geneva, Switzerland. In announcing the conference, the Council, whose organisations represent more than 176 million working people worldwide, expresses the belief that quality public services provide the essential foundation for decent work, democracy, equity, and quality of life for all citizens.
Featuring discussion with international speakers, the conference will chart innovative strategies to improve and expand quality public services around the world. Everyone is invited to add comments and suggestions now and throughout the conference to the proposed global charter and action plan for quality public services. The more than 400 conference participants expected will include trade union, civil society and government representatives from across the globe. According to the Council, this is a dynamic opportunity to strengthen alliances around public service issues worldwide.
Global March Governing Board member the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) makes the key point that the financial services sector and its boosters are deflecting blame for global financial and economic crises and making public sector workers the primary scapegoats in countries worldwide through severe public sector cuts. However, trade unions, political and civil society leaders are uniting to counter the financial lobby and rapidly advance sustainable economic solutions that build peaceful, equitable societies.
According to the Global Unions, answers to the global economic crisis can include things as simple as providing quality public early childhood education. Evidence backing this and other innovative responses to current social challenges will be presented at conference. Among the speakers are: Kumi Naidoo, leader of Greenpeace International and co-chair of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty; Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the ITUC; Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, Chief Executive Officer of Green For All, USA; and Richard Samans, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum.
Stephanie Smith, Executive Member of the Child Care Sector Council of Canada, will explain how the province of Quebec’s investment in providing universal access to quality public child care has reduced poverty rates by almost half, increased the number of women in the workforce to the highest level in the country, and been recouped immediately in large part through increased taxes collected from working parents.
The current model of globalisation, say the Global Unions, is clearly based on an unsustainable system that socialises losses and privatises gains. Women and young people are especially hard-hit as stable public jobs, education, health and pension supports are sacrificed in order to prop up bank interests. Speakers will also address the need for stronger financial regulations and progressive taxation policies, including an international financial transaction tax, that are tied to accountable public funding decision-making processes.
Suma Shivarama of the Karnataka State Government Employees’ Association, India, will detail how gender equity laws mandating women representatives on village councils in some Indian states has resulted in increased public spending on health care, education, and clean water delivery. In addition, Anne Le Strat, Deputy Mayor of Paris, France, will discuss how her city decided to reclaim privatised water services and bring them back into public hands this year, to save up to 30 percent in costs.
In the light of the urgent need to follow up the UNMDG Summit and Roadmap 2016 to eliminate child labour, Global March welcomes this timely conference and expresses its full support for the content and discussion themes and looks forward to the eventual outcomes in the form of Quality Public Services Charter and Action Plan. These strategic documents, built on crucial alliances between trade unions and civil society, will contribute significantly to the rebuilding of a fair and sustainable global economy and in ensuring that political commitments become reality for all people, particularly the poor and vulnerable.
Those interested in participating in the conference and contributing the debate on the global charter and action plan should visit the conference web site which is available in English, French and Spanish.
To visit the conference web site, click here