EU Bubble Insider with Jan Willem Goudriaan

Krzysztof Bulski speaks with Jan Willem Gourdriaan, the General Secretary of the European Public Service Union.

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Welcome to a new episode of the EU Bubble Insider podcast with Jan Willem Gourdriaan, the General Secretary of the European Public Service Union (EPSU). In a very interesting discussion Jan Willem sheds light on the role of EPSU in the EU. We also spoke about various aspects of workers’ rights and challenges within the European Union. EPSU represents over 260 trade unions with nearly 10 million workers across a wide range of sectors, including health and social services, local and regional government, central government, and utilities.

In our conversation Jan Willem emphasised that EPSU is not just a platform for exchanging information and best practices; it actively campaigns, negotiates, and aims to influence decisions made by governments, employers, and European institutions that impact public service workers and their communities. As a recognised European social partner, EPSU provides input and negotiates agreements that can become legislation, such as the part-time work directive and the directive on medical sharps to prevent needlestick injuries.

The interview covered several pressing issues such as the impact of digitalisation and AI on workers’ rights, the differences in labor rights across member states, and the challenges posed by climate change. Jan Willem highlighted the need for comprehensive regulations that ensure workers have a say in the use of digital technologies and AI, safeguarding against potential exploitation or replacement of human workers.

We also touched on the current cost of living crisis and the rise of inflation, leading to strikes and protests across Europe, advocating for higher wages. Jan Willem expressed concern about attacks on the right to protest and the rise of the extreme right. Additionally, we discussed the potential return of austerity measures and the commercialisation of public services, both of which could adversely affect workers and their communities.

Looking ahead, Jan Willem mentioned the importance of addressing working time reduction, adapting to the changing nature of work, and striving for a balance between technological advancements and workers’ well-being. He emphasised the need for negotiated solutions that protect workers’ wages and ensure the benefits of reduced working time are shared equitably.

The interview concludes with Jan Willem sharing the rewarding aspects of his role, particularly the opportunity to work with diverse people from different backgrounds and cultures, learn from each other, and strive for a better society that benefits all workers.