Daily News wrap #5 - PSI Congress

Our daily news wrap for congress events, delivered straight to you everyday, covering all the action! 

Some of the text below may have been automatically translated to increase accessibility.

Panel 3 - The future is public

The second full day of congress opened with a panel on the fight for remunicipalisation - or in other words, bringing public services back in house. A work that most PSI affiliates have been developing for now. The inspirational examples were only a sample of the many campaigns happening across the globe.


These campaigns and victories are being compiled by the University of Glasgow as part of the Public Futures project. Professor Andrew Cumbers presented the database and how and why the data is collected. The data is a living source of information on how to remunicipalise; almost a tool kit that should be constantly updated by PSI affiliates and other allies. The Public Futures database is growing thanks to the sustained efforts of PSI affiliates, local communities and strategic allies. The data showed that between 2000 and 2023, 30% of remunicipalisation cases were in water and waste - however, in recent years, the trend is spreading to many other sectors such as care, health, education and food.

Fred Hahn from CUPE described how Canadian public sector workers and their communities are joining the struggle to promote public ownership. During the pandemic publicly owned care facilities delivered better and more humane care than their private counterparts.  The outcome is clear: care must not be a commodity. The fight is not going to be easy because many municipalities lack the tools, but the commitment from PSI affiliates is to continue this work.

The same can be said in Australia. Maddy Northam explained how the CPSU in Australia linked their members' campaigns to campaign for the return of public services to public ownership in Canberra. The other speakers shared similar perspectives, explaining their experience in the fight against private sector logic in essential public services in Costa Rica (Rebeca Céspedes Alvarado, ANEP) and Clare Keogh (UNITE, UK).

The panel - chaired by Daria Cibrario, LRG, PSI - led a question and answer session on experiences and advice, enlightening delegates and observers of the victories achieved and the challenges ahead.

The panel was a fitting opening for the debate on the programme of action which discussed the very same issues and gave a clear mandate to PSI to continue to promote public ownership, democratic control, and the fight against privatisation.


Congress 2023 - Day 2 (16 October)

Revolutionizing and Transformation Care Work

The lunch break had a workshop on the Decent Work in Care sector. The objective was to introduce affiliates to the International Labour Organization (ILO) general discussion on decent work in care. Chidi King, Chief of the ILO’s Gender, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Branch was the resource person who outlined the process of the general discussion. 

The general discussion is a vital component of the annual International Labour Conference (ILC) hosted by the ILO. The ILC is the highest decision-making body of the ILO. During this discussion, member states and social partners, including employers' and workers' organizations, come together to deliberate and exchange ideas on significant global labour and social issues. These discussions are instrumental in shaping worldwide labour policies, setting international labour standards, and addressing emerging work-related challenges. The outcomes often serve as a foundation for the development of international labour conventions and recommendations that member states can incorporate into their national labour laws.

After explaining the process, King talked about the work that’s done at the ILO on the care sector. Care is seen as private responsibilities of a household rather than being seen as a collective responsibility. However, there is an increasing realisation that it has to been seen at a societal level. Frontline health workers, domestic help etc provide care work.

Before the pandemic, there was a push for general discussion on care work. With the pandemic, it became even more important. As part of ILO Centenary Initiative on Women at Work, they have been talking to women from various backgrounds including migrant women and indigenous women. The idea is to find a balance between care responsibilities and economic gains. Care is often a barrier for women and girls to go to work. Care economy is not very attractive because of low wages and shortage of staff.  

King emphasised that they not looking at care only in terms of its contribution to GDP of a country, but from the aspect of workers. 

Huma Haq, Social Care Organiser from PSI charted out PSI’s five core principles for care work as listed in PSI’s Care Manifesto. Firstly, it emphasizes the recognition of the social and economic value of care work, whether paid or not, and asserts that access to care is a human right. Second, the manifesto advocates for fair compensation for care work, including equal pay for equal value, decent pensions, and dignified working conditions. Third, it seeks to alleviate the disproportionate burden of unpaid care work on women. Fourth, it promotes the redistribution of care work within households, eliminating the sexual division of labour, and between households and the state. Lastly, the manifesto encourages the reclaiming of the public nature of care services and the primary responsibility of the state to provide public care services, emphasizing the importance of financing these services through fair and progressive taxation. 

She then went on to list the actions that PSI, along with its affiliates, would like the governments to take. They include ensuring fair wages and improved working conditions for workers in the health, care, and education sectors as well as investing in universal, high-quality public care systems, encompassing services like mental health, childcare, and elderly care. The manifesto also underscores the importance of promoting equity and non-discrimination in hiring, training, and promotion across these sectors, respecting workers' rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining, funding universal and gender-responsive social protection accessible to all workers. The governments need to ensure accessible quality public health and care services for everyone, including refugees and migrants, regardless of their status. These measures collectively aim to reshape the landscape of care work, reduce gender disparities, and guarantee universal access to quality care services

The effects of digitalisation on workers, public services and the economy was part of the Congress debate

In an era where large corporations monopolise the digital economy and use this power to grab wealth, control the narrative and influence policy, PSI organised a panel on 16 October to discuss the effects of digitalisation on public services and their workers, as part of its World Congress being held at the Palexpo, Geneva. The panel was moderated by Christina Colclough of Why Not Lab.

Anita Gurumurthy, IT For Change, India; Juan Carlos Hidalgo, ANEJUD, Chile and Senator Jan Hochadel, AFT, USA, shared their local experiences on digitalisation, as well as some trade union actions to address new technologies and artificial intelligence in their workplaces and unions.

The first to take the floor was Anita Gurumurthy, representative of the NGO IT For Change, who presented the challenges of having a society in which digital technologies contribute to human rights, in counterpoint to the dominant approach that "promote a market fundamentalist vision, and often both together".

"Digital public goods provided by the state are often appropriated by the private sector, where we have no control over companies or data. This situation puts not only democracy at risk, but also human autonomy and labour rights," said Gurumurthy, while praising PSI's cutting-edge work in addressing these issues in its global policy.

For his part, Hidalgo - from the Latin American judicial sector - spoke of his sector's experience and how his union incorporated the issues of digitalisation and new forms of employment into its work plan thanks to PSI's training programmes in the region. Digital literacy is an important element for the union to incorporate if we want to understand artificial intelligence in public services and its impact on labour rights.

In the same vein, Hochadel agreed on the importance of educating union members and local leaders, as well as sharing "our stories with the community so that we all understand that we must protect ourselves from the lack of transparency in the accountability of digitalisation in public services". He called for a global campaign to tackle these issues as PSI.

PSI Congress approves LGBT+ Amendment

After heated discussions and moving contributions from comrades across the world, PSI Congress adopted amendment #28 of the plan of action which institutes the following:

"Establish a global LGBTQA+ coordinating committee, meeting virtually on a regular basis, at least once every six months, and including regional coordinators elected from among the members of the regional coordinating committees. The global coordinating committee will nominate a liaison person and an observer to the PSI Global Executive Board."

Defending Public Services Workers in the Arab Countries

This event highlighted the crucial role played by PSI, affiliates and its partners in supporting the union movement in the Arab countries, defending workers' rights and their access to quality public services amid challenging circumstances, including the ongoing occupation of Palestinian territories and the outbreak of violence and war. These conflicts have led to the destruction of public institutions, including hospitals, depriving many people of their basic right to access public health and other services.

Attendees heard moving contributions from leaders from across the region:

How would the world look today, if people are allowed to raise their voices instead of raising walls! - Wegdan Hussain - Egypt

We demand the International trade union Movement solidarity with independent and democratic trade unions in the MENA region, and raise their voices for the application of International labor Standards” - Yamina Maghraoui - Algeria

Algerian Trade Unionists Leader are accused of terrorism because they are raising the voices of workers” - Raouf Mellal - Algeria

We demand The free international trade union movement stand for justice and put pressure on their governments for the appliance of UN resolutions on Palestine for a two states solution, where workers enjoy decent working conditions and citizens have access to quality public services” - Juweiriah Safadi - Palestine


Stand in solidarity with South Asia's sanitation workers in their fight for safety and dignity at work.

Dangerous Gutters: South Asia's Despised Sanitation Workers