Public Services: More Essential than Ever

On 23 June, United Nations Public Service Day, PSI reminds us all that it is public services and public sector workers who kept us safe during the pandemic and who will also play a crucial role in the post-Covid-19 recovery.

In the light of the pandemic, public services have proved to be more essential than ever. Many old myths, carefully established and promoted, are now cracking: that public services can be safely privatised; that spending cannot be raised for social measures; that the private sector is always better.

With the pandemic, people have reconsidered what they value: family, health, education, stability and how much they rely on public services to provide these. But “the applause” has not been translated into better salaries and working conditions – and we must keep on fighting for that to become a reality.

The discussion around public care services and gender relations must be at the centre of the pandemic recovery

Now, more than ever, there is an opportunity to create a new coherent narrative that galvanises broad support for re-empowered public services as the key driver of our recovery. And, in this sense, we need to keep reminding governments about the promises they made in the middle of the pandemic.

It is time for us to fight for more tax transparency so we can finally reclaim the billions flowing into offshore bank accounts and use this funding to rebuild our public services. The recent G7 proposal to create a global minimum corporate tax rate of 15% is not enough –we must be bold and fight for at least 25%.

It is also time to recognise that most frontline jobs that kept our communities functioning are predominantly held by women: care work, health work, cleaning, and childcare – workers who are too often undervalued, underpaid and precarious and are often subjected to demands to work for free, and denied formal employment rights.

It has also become obvious that the discussion around public care services and gender relations must be at the centre of the pandemic recovery and viewed through an intersectional lens. We need to urgently rethink care work in our society and organise and consolidate it into an integrated gender-transformative, quality, universal and public health and care services system while denouncing and opposing the privatisation, commodification and financialisation of the sector.

PSI reiterates its call for crafting a global movement to rebuild the social organisation of care, adhering to the 5Rs and the Care Manifesto, noting and welcoming the current experience in Chile, where they are trying to include care as a human right in their new Constitution.

On this Public Service Day, PSI commits to broaden the area of public services as a vital claim for a more inclusive, prepared, responsive and resilient society.