PSI – International cooperation and sustainable development are a public service matter!

Luis Monje, Project Officer with the trade union development department of Public Service International (PSI) provides insight into PSI’s international cooperation and solidarity initiatives in support of trade unions at the national level.

PSI’s work has been strongly supported in recent years by solidarity support organisations (SSOs) linked to international cooperation. PSI has a trade union development department (UD), which monitors the various development projects implemented in all regions. This unit is also responsible for formulating proposals and for linking PSI’s political priorities with the work on the ground through development interventions. But it also consults with affiliates and jointly coordinates the team of project coordinators. UD also represents PSI vis-à-vis donors and other development organisations and participates in particular in the coordination group between the GUFs and ITUC on this issue.

It is crucial for PSI that all projects are connected to the programme of action that is approved by Congress every four years. The last PSI Congress, held in Geneva in October 2023, has renewed confidence in the role of international cooperation supporting the work with affiliates through international solidarity, where sustainable development strongly resonates: fighting for a strong democratic state, an inclusive society, gender equality, respect and dignity for all, inclusive economic development, redistribution of wealth and strengthened workers’ power. Ensuring peace, ecological sustainability and a fair multilateral system are integral to this struggle as well.

The hallmark that all PSI development through projects shares quality public services as a model of sustainable development itself. Quality public services are a development perspective that encompasses different development policies and goes beyond economic and labour market considerations. Public services workers provide services to both the sick and the healthy, uniting civil society, workers and the public, who use public services. These workers put their lives on the line in the event of a catastrophe not for profit but for the common good. In other words, Quality public services put people over profit and develop a unique perspective on global challenges.

Through UD partnerships, PSI works with affiliates, SSOs and fraternal unions to support affiliates to organise, build power, and make changes. PSI’s solidarity has been extremely helpful in building a movement to achieve objectives that require reaching out to as many workers as possible. Projects help PSI affiliates to organise in the workplace, and community, and grow by reaching out to all workers, uniting workers of the global north and south. Projects also help to build powerful coalitions with public service users, fellow trade unionists, and civil society.

Our project work emphasises sectoral work, gender mainstreaming, and trade union rights, and strengthens PSI’s larger campaigns, such as trade, tax justice, digitalization, migration, fighting against far-right ideas, fighting privatisation, and advocating for the right to public health and care. Projects organise workers in priority areas such as health, care, and waste, providing union leadership training for young workers and women.

The support received from international solidarity has also been crucial in fostering an important number of campaigns and projects in favour of LGTBI workers, community health workers, the ratification of Convention 190 for the elimination of violence and harassment in the workplace, TRIPS waiver or the non-privatisation of public services in health, water and energy.

PSI Trade union development projects are implemented in six areas of work: (1) Trade union rights, (2) Health and social services, (3) Utilities, (4) Organising and capacity building, (5) Global policy, (6) Local and regional government.

PSI gratefully acknowledges partnership with the following Trade Union Solidarity Support Organizations (TUSSOs): DGB-BW (Germany); DTDA (Denmark); FES (Germany); FNV Mondiaal (Netherlands); SASK (Finland) and Union to Union (Sweden). Also, PSI greatly appreciates the support of the many affiliates whose contributions made our project work possible, such as Akademikerförbundet SRR (Sweden); CUPE (Canada); Fórsa (Ireland); Kommunal (Sweden); KNS (Nordic countries); JHL (Finland); JYTY (Finland); OEGB (Austria); PRO (Finland); PSAC (Canada); ST (Sweden); TEHY (Finland); UNISON (UK); Vårdförbundet (Sweden) and Vision (Sweden).