International Trade Union Summit on Privatization ProceedingsPublisher: National Union of Provincial Government Employees
Year Published: 1989
Resource Type: Book
Cx Number: CX3940
Abstract: The International Trade Union Summit on Privatization brought together trade union leaders from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand to discuss the moves by conservative governments to privatize publicly owned assets and services. This is an edited summary of the discussions that took place. Participants described the situation in their own countries, and looked at evidence that shows that privatization usually means a reduction of service, and lower wages for working people. Various ways of fighting back were looked at, among them educational campaigns aimed at the public and at union members, as well as coalition-building and forms of political action. Several participants said that it was necessary for public employees to push for better government services and to expose inefficiencies and government wrongdoing. The process of sharing ideas and strategies across international borders was praised: "When we're in the trenches, we don't think of people all over the world being similarly engaged. Being able to share this internationally shows we're not alone", said John Fryer of the NUPGE.
In a communique issues at the end of the meeting, the participants said that "Selling public assets has cut essential services, lined the pockets of privateers, cost ordinary taxpayers millions, and undermined their ability to control their own communities.... We believe that health care, education, housing, good roads and a clean and safe environment are all necessary components of a civilized society. Only the public sector can be trusted to provide these components. All the evidence from the summit countries demonstrates that the pursuit of private profit as a prime objective is incompatible with ensuring that everyone has access to the basic democratic and civilized essentials.... In a thousand ways, every day, these vital services are being cut back, down-graded, contracted out or sold off."
A second international trade union summit on privatization will be held in Sydney, Australia in 1991.