For a start of this short speech, I would like to salute you on behalf of the CGT Public Services Federation and thank you for your invitation.
Our federation is largely made of employees in French regional and local government as well as in social housing, private water companies and funeral services.
At the beginning of the 1980’s, we obtained “civil service” status for the large majority of workers in regional and local government.
In France the civil service covers the state, health and regional and local government. There are similarities in our status across these three sectors but also differences. We are campaigning for a strengthening of the collective guarantees with a single, joint status for all the sectors of the civil service.
This demand is one part of the whole range of demands that the CGT is seeking as part of our demands for a New Statute for Employees and for Social Security.
This demand gives us the possibility to build a single body of rights (for all employees) which each employee deserves. It is about ensuring a pathway throughout employment allowing employees to keep their acquired rights even if they change employer.
Local government services are well developed in France. Local government workers make up 1.8 million of the 5.1 civil servants in France – about 25%. During the three last decades, the growth of the number of workers in our sector did not stop.
However, everything isn’t perfect.
There is a high degree of job insecurity for about five hundred thousands colleagues, about 30% of all staff. This is especially the case with regard to women workers.
We are faced with a salary policy which has reduced our purchasing power and undermines a part of our salaries.
We have experienced a wave of privatisations, especially in the 1980s when services were contracted out to the private sector. This is especially the case in water (80% privatised), waste collection and school meal services. However, since a couple of years, a growing number of local autorities decided to take back the control of water.
In Social Housing with the change of legal status of public housing agencies, the employee’s new recruded have private status.
This constitutes a further step towards the complete privatisation of social housing. Just after his election as president of the Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy talked about a France of home-owners.
Today, with increased neo-liberal pressure from the Government, we are faced with the undermining of Public Services and the status of civil servants by budget cuts and reduction of the public debt. Of course, French employers applaud these attacks against public services.
Liberals name their measures General Revision of Public Politics ; we name it big reducing and decreasing of public politics.
If the State part of civil services is their first target, local authorities are also concerned with the possibilities of pressure by state to give certain financial fund with conditions as reduction of employment and public services.
The suppression of professional tax that represents more than 40% of local taxation is also potentially a risk of reduction of local public services.
The health public sector is also concerned by these attacks.
We also fight for our salary.
We believe we need co-ordinated campaigns, struggles and actions to achieve new rights, the development of new forms of solidarity to fight the attacks on the rights of all workers and public sector employees in particular.
We are taking action in this sense, seeking to undertake activities bringing together the largest number of trade unions representing civil servants.
It’s the sense of the common declaration and plate-form signed by all the general trade unions, the 5th of January in the beginning of this year. This platform includs demands on public services. Our idea is : “We won’t pay for their crisis !”.
Three big days of action have been realised in the January, March and the 1st May, with millions of workers in hundreds of French cities.
Since January, hard strikes took place in numerous factories facing mass lay-offs.
New demonstrations took place in May and last Saturday.
Sarkozy refuses to start collective bargaining but he knows that his situation is fragile. That’s why we are determined to continue to mobilize French workers.
Since January, the French trade unions have overcomed their historical divisions. That is a very important thing and CGT makes all efforts to reinforce this unity, even if that is difficult.
The European elections showed that we need another European construction, more social. The European trade unions must continue to fight for social progress. It is the sense of our cooperation with Unison and other organizations.
We hope we will continue in this direction for a long time. We all need to be acting together for social justice, in Europe and in the world.
Thank you very much
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