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Around the world this week, public sector union members and the communities they serve will recognize the vital role quality public services have in our society. This Thursday, June 23, marks the United Nations Public Services Day. From Canada to the Middle East, Europe to Asia, South America to Africa, the United States to the Pacific Rim, it is a day to acknowledge what public service offers the citizens of the world.

In the face of mounting threats to our public services globally, it is important for us to celebrate the work done CUPE and other public sector union members. We have a responsibility to ensure people are aware of what’s at stake when their governments trade away control in international trade agreements, sell off public infrastructure or enter into risky public-private partnerships, contract out work, or cut services altogether in the name of paying down deficits fueled by unfair taxation policies.

CUPE has a long history of supporting our public sector union brothers and sisters around the world in these struggles, as they support us. In this spirit of international solidarity CUPE is a proud and active member in the Public Services International (PSI). I am honoured to serve on the PSI executive as Vice-president for the Americas.

The core motivation for PSI is the steadfast belief in what good quality public services do for all people. They help stabilize economies so that all people can share in prosperity.  They help create and foster equality. They help promote social justice by giving access to reliable and accountable services to all people. Public services are the very foundation of free and democratic societies.

As a global federation of public sector unions, PSI represents 650 affiliated trade unions in 148 countries and territories world-wide, uniting more than 20 million public sector workers. These are the workers who provide services in all levels of governments, heath care and social services, community and municipal services, public utilities, and many others. Founded in 1907, PSI stands as a voice for public services the world over, drawing attention to the struggles of public sector workers, and to issues of social and economic justice in the communities they serve.

In order to defend and expand public services around the world, PSI has been working hard promoting the Geneva Quality Public Service Charter. Developed last year in Geneva, Switzerland at an international labour led by PSI, the QPS Charter was endorsed by the Canadian Labour Congress and the Council of Global Unions – a group of international trade union organizations representing 175 million private and public sector workers around the world.

The QPS Charter is now guiding a Global Unions campaign – “Quality Public Services – Action Now” – to be launched on Public Services Day. This campaign will bring public and private sector union members, municipal governments, civil societies, social action groups, and people from all walks of life together to promote investments into quality public services as the best way to build peaceful, equitable, just, democratic and sustainable societies around the world.

CUPE is in full support of this important campaign, and the guiding principles of the QPS Charter. Around the world, public services are being attacked in the name of austerity, even though these public services have proved to mitigate the damage of the global economic meltdown. It is vital that we defend the services all Canadians depend on every day, and we must do all we can to support our international brothers and sisters in their own struggles in protecting public services.

Through initiatives like the QPS Charter, and our continuing work with PSI and other international trade union organizations, CUPE will be at the forefront of defending public services in our own communities, and communities around the world.


If you have any comments or feedback, please feel free to reach me at paulspage@cupe.ca.