Public services unions open new trade agreements to public debate

Washington (18 Sept. 2014) — Public services unions worldwide are determined to open to public scrutiny a new wave of global trade agreements, which are now being discussed behind closed doors.

Public service unions are exposing trade deals negotiated in secret

On the first day of the Public Services International (PSI) Global Trade Summit 2014, in Washington, D.C., union leaders from all over the world discussed with the media the growing concerns about the effects of public service trade policies.

“These trade agreements are about far more than trade," says Rosa Pavanelli, General Secretary of PSI. "They enshrine the power of corporations in ways only loosely related to trade. They lock in liberalisation, promote privatisation, and restrict governments’ right to regulate. The global financial crisis made clear the catastrophic results of failing to adequately regulate the financial markets.”

Corporate-driven trade agreements are dangerous to our public services, says Larry Brown, NUPGE National Secretary-Treasurer

Larry Brown, National Secretary-Treasurer of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), who participated in the summit, said,  "It was exciting and encouraging to see the level of engagement from public sector unions around the world, and the commitment from all these leaders to drag these trade deals out of the shadows and into the light of public scrutiny. These corporate-driven trade deals are dangerous for public services, and they protect multinational companies from government control.  When the public learns what they are really about, they will not accept them."

“We need to start to look at the way negotiations are taking place, which is in complete secrecy,” says Dave Prentis, President of PSI and General Secretary of UK's UNISON. “How can a democracy work in secrecy, when the politicians themselves are not allowed to see what is being talked about, when the only people who can comment are the big businesses, the multinationals, who will take advantage of it? How can we let that happen?”

New research shows how public sector services and jobs are at stake under these trade deals

According to Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa, “trade agreements such as TISA, TPP, and others will have a detrimental impact on public sector jobs and services in the U.S. and across the world.  The Teamsters union and the other unions represented at this summit oppose trade deals that threaten service sector workers, just as we always have for workers who produce goods that families rely on.”

During the summit PSI released a new research document "The really good friends of transnational corporations agreementabout the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). The report aims to show the regulatory system behind the new agreement, that imposes irreversible deregulation in various sectors, from healthcare to education, from financial services to data and communication.

On September 17, Hoffa, Pavanelli and Prentis led participants in lobbying members of the U.S. Congress, concluding with a press conference in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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