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Over the period of the mandate, public sector unions and workers have faced grave challenges. The burden of austerity has continued, our trade union rights have come under attack, the extreme right has grown, and we have seen the demonization of women, migrants and vulnerable groups. But we have also seen opportunities unfold – the rising awareness of the failures of neoliberalism, growing evidence of the failures of privatisation and demands for something better and radically different.
To meet these challenges and use these opportunities, PSI has increased its work in a range of priority areas; invested in its communications capacity; continued to build its project work; established sectoral networks and increased our research and publications.
2017 marked the end of the 2012 congress mandate and a significant period of challenge for PSI affiliates and rebuilding for PSI.
PSI has been an active player in the global wave of re-municipalisations; our efforts contributed to the ratification of ILO Convention 151 in the Philippines and the recognition of health sector union NAHWUL in Liberia after a four-year campaign.
Our work ensured that the UN Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth (ComHEEG) did not endorse PPPs as a means for addressing the projected shortfall of 18 million health workers globally by 2030, but rather committed to further investment in public health. We also contributed to halting trade agreements, such as the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) and to the creation of a new political discourse on tax via the establishment of the Independent Commission on the Reform of International Corporate Taxation (ICRICT).
But while 2017 was an end, it was also a beginning. In November we held our Congress under the slogan ‘People Over Profit’.
Congress reminded us not only that quality public services are fundamental to a better life for all, but also that our work makes a real difference to the lives of public service workers and the users of public services across the globe.
PSI’s 2017 Congress confirmed our political direction and overwhelmingly endorsed the comprehensive Programme of Action (PoA) entitled ‘People Over Profit’, a wide range of affiliates’ resolutions and a revised constitution.
Together, these texts identify the major challenges for public service workers and their unions; they set out the position of PSI in relation to these challenges and approve a wide range of actions that build on the mandate and work of the previous five years.
Our future successes rely on having clear priorities and focussing our energies on issues and opportunities where we can make a difference. After the 2017 Congress, the secretariat began immediate work on a five-year strategy document Putting People Over Profit, that outlines our priorities for the new mandate. Once adopted, these priorities will be incorporated into regional and sector work plans.