New Report: Winning The Argument for Universal Quality Public Services

At the launch of PSI's new report "Universal Quality Public Services: A Union Policy Brief," human rights experts, academics, civil society and union leaders came together to discuss how we must build the power to win public services through the Covid-19 recovery.

The Report - authored by Anna Coote of the New Economics Foundation - outlines how Universal Quality Public Services are the most effective tool in achieving human rights, reducing inequality and ensuring equal access.

Drawing on effective case studies from across the world, the study demonstrates the positive effects of bolstering the public realm and ensuring public services are guaranteed as rights rather than treated as entitlements.

The report is designed to assist unions in countering the damaging and incorrect narrative, advanced by global institutions and leaders from across the political spectrum, that public spending is wasteful, that public services work better when marketised and that public sector workers are inefficent.

Universal Quality Public Services: Union Policy Brief

This report on Universal Quality Public Services - prepared in collaboration with the New Economics Foundation - helps unions build strong arguments for extended public services as the bedrock for the Covid-19 recovery.

Speaking at the report launch webinar ICRICT Commissioner Jayati Ghosh, said

"Recently we have been brainwashed into thinking that public services are not the responsibility of states to provide"

Participants heard in detail from Carolina Espinoza, a Health Worker and Union leader from Chile who has been invovled in an ongoing struggle to rewrite the country's constitution to embed public services as fundamental rights for all people.

She outlined how privatisations - implemeneted by the Dictator Pinochet with the support of many western governments and institutions - had led to social disaster:

"The ceding of public management to corporate actors made possible a brutal transfer of collective resources to private actors. Rather than taking action to increase our collective well-being, the Chilean Government's decisions have produced greater economic inequality while reducing social protections."


For more information on the struggle for Universal Quality Public Services, check out the full report.

Video: Introducing Universal Quality Public Services

Report authour Anna Coote said "the key foundation for the new post-pandemic economy must be Universal Quality Public Services, backed by a guaranteed minimum income."

Writing in the Report's introduction, PSI General Secrertary Rosa Pavanelli described how:

"For too long, politicians have signed on to the flawed belief that the public sector is an obstacle, that public services are inefficient and that public investment should be geared towards derisking private profits rather than building strong public institutions.

We were sold the narrative of individual choice over collective responsibility. We were told we must see ourselves as consumers rather than citizens. Within this context, policy proposals such as Universal Basic Income were increasingly promoted as a means to address the worst outcomes of neoliberal inequality. Years of privatisation, outsourcing and budget cuts led many to give up on the idea of collective solutions. Instead, we were told Governments should hand revenue back to people as flat payments, to spend however they saw fit. This report critically examines how the policy goals which many UBI proponents identify – including eliminating poverty, reducing inequality and strengthening social safety nets – are better addressed through Universal Quality Public Services, including free provision of childcare, transport, housing and aged-care."

The report follows on from a 2019 PSI Publication - Universal Basic Income - A Union Perspective, which analysed the drivers of the debate on UBI and ares of interest and concern for trade unions.

UBI without public services is a neoliberal’s paradise

Why should governments give cash-handouts before providing free, quality public services to all?


Launch Webinar: Universal Quality Public Services

What are UQPS?

Universal quality public services (UQPS) are fundamental to societies that are equal, prosperous and democratic. They are how we pool resources and help each other so that all of us can meet our needs as a matter of right, not ability to pay. They give us access to life’s essentials – especially things we can’t always afford. Healthcare and education are obvious examples. Other necessities include housing, childcare, social care for adults, transport, access to digital information and household utilities such as water and electricity. They enable us to survive and flourish. No one who needs them should go without.

Former UN Special Expert and Executive Director of the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona pointed to the need for strong coalitions, saying: "change won't happen unless we fight for it collectively, across disciplines, together with social movements."

PSI Assistant General Secretary, Daniel Bertossa, pointed to the vital role which public services play in building resilient socieities:

"We've heard many politicians claim that no one could have seen this coming - yet for decades public service workers have been warning of the disastourous effects which brutal funding cuts are having on our ability to deal with crises. It's time our leaders stopped just clapping for them and instead started implementing their advice to revalue and reinvest in quality public service provision."

Check out our resources on UQPS