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"Our Future is Public or There Will be No Future", says Rosa Pavanelli in Chile

Nov 29, 2022

The PSI General Secretary is in Santiago to participate in the conference "Our Future is Public", which is being held until 2 December. "The alliance that we want to consolidate in this forum has to affirm that public service workers deserve decent conditions and wages, they deserve trade union rights in all countries, because trade union rights are human rights". Read her speech below.

"Our Future is Public" is a hopeful title and affirms the need to change the neoliberal economic model.

Decades of austerity policies, cuts in public budgets, attacking and disqualifying the role of the public are the result of the global strategy of privatisation and financialisation of public services.

During this period we have seen inequality, injustice and poverty grow between the richest and poorest countries, but also in each country the social gap has widened.

The OECD tells us that access to public services accounts for more than 64% of disposable income in the least developed countries.

The OECD tells us that access to public services represents more than 64% of disposable income for people living in the least developed countries and we know that they are a fundamental factor in the redistribution of wealth.

Guaranteeing universal access to education, health, care, water and sanitation, and energy is the role of the state so that everyone can enjoy basic human rights and escape poverty, which can only be achieved through quality public services.

The COVID 19 pandemic, which we are struggling to live with, has clearly shown us that without quality public services there is no way out of the emergency.

The impact of climate change manifests itself every day with extreme natural events that determine continuous emergencies that the market does not know how to, cannot and does not want to solve.

On the contrary, the market is responsible for the growing social injustice and cannot be an actor in the decision-making process we need to get out of the multiple crises - health, climate, economic, social and political - in which we are still trapped.

In fact "Our Future is Public" is a compromising title because it also means that we want to return to the fundamental principles of democracy, to the responsibility of the state in defending and valuing the commons, in defining priorities in the general interest and in promoting economic growth oriented towards social and human development, towards collective progress rather than economic growth that exploits labour and natural resources without respect for people and the planet.

In a word, an end to the extractive greed that has led us into a structural and systemic crisis.

The harmful influence of multinational interests is the cause of the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few and the increase in social injustice.

When public services are commodified, when not a value but a price is set on education, health, water and more, the commodification of human rights and ultimately of the human being is affirmed.

Therefore, a public future has to put an end to the co-optation of public power for big economic interests, for neo-liberal capitalism. And restore the role of democratic governance to international and national institutions.

To put an end to tax havens, to impose a global minimum tax on the profits of multinationals and on wealth.

The truth is that public workers are the radar that first perceives changes in society.

Define industrial production plans that respond to the needs of the communities we live in, that end the exploitation of workers and natural resources to redress the failure of global supply chains, demonstrated in the pandemic and today represented by the threat of famine due to the war in Ukraine.

A guiding public role in the energy policy we need to save the planet.

A public role in the protection of sensitive data in the digital transition without which the risk of entrusting the hands of the powerful oligopoly of multinationals in the sector with immense power is the real threat to democracy.

A new idea of development where care is recognised as a human right and a public responsibility, where the social organisation of care is the key to ending gender inequality, to affirming the social recognition and value of care, its redistribution in the home and in society, its remuneration in terms of a living wage for workers in the sector and the valuation of its contribution to GDP, its representation at different levels of society.

"Our Future is Public" also means transparency in public management through democratic participation of citizens, of civil society, a participation in which we have to define rules of representativeness without which particular interests prevail.

Finally, let me say that among the subjects to be valued in this process of progressive transformation of society are the public service workers and their trade unions.

For years accused of being to blame for public debt, insulted as unproductive and a cost to society. Or, conversely, celebrated as heroes during the pandemic or every time they sacrifice their lives to face emergencies to help the population, only to be forgotten once the crisis has been resolved.

The truth is that public workers are the backbone of quality public services, they are the guardians of the independence and impartiality of the public system, they are the radar that first perceives changes in society.

They are the workers who manufacture human rights.

The alliance that we want to consolidate in this forum has to affirm that public service workers deserve decent conditions and wages, they deserve trade union rights in all countries, because trade union rights are human rights.

The active participation of public workers, of their trade unions, is essential in an alliance that wants to build a more just and sustainable world. And we are here to continue marching together.

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