Speech by Jerónimo de Sousa, General Secretary of the PCP, Conference "Social rights and work with rights"

Conference "Social rights and work with rights"

Conference

I welcome the participants in this Conference on «Social Rights and Work with Rights», as well as all those who, denouncing the problems facing the workers and the people and pointing out solutions to ensure their rights and aspirations, are carrying out throughout this week, the Journeys "In defence of employment and workers' rights, against exploitation - No to the impositions of the European Union", with dozens of initiatives - conferences, hearings, meetings and visits - in the districts of Braga, Bragança, Lisbon, Porto, Viana do Castelo and Vila Real.

This set of initiatives, which the PCP promotes, assumes such great importance and significance when, at this moment, the European Union - pretending to forget decades of fallacious proclamations regarding the fight against unemployment, inequality or poverty -, holds a so-called Social Summit, in Porto, with which it once again seeks to cover up and mystify the real objectives of its policies and impositions - an operation for which, once again, the Portuguese government provides coverage.

If the nature of this Summit were truly social, naturally it would have to call into question the policies and impositions expressed in the Treaty of the European Union itself, and the instruments that support it, such as the Euro, the Stability Pact, the Budgetary Treaty, or the European Semester.

Policies and impositions that, being determined by its great powers and subordinated to the interests of economic and financial groups, are at the root of the worsening of exploitation, the accumulation and concentration of wealth, social inequalities, impoverishment, asymmetries of development.

However, the good intentions that the European Union for the umpteenth time announces, in addition to not being accompanied by the corresponding policies and means that effectively implement them, conceal and mystify the real objective of promoting new social setbacks.

It should be stressed that the European Union has not only failed to respond adequately to the pandemic situation and its social and economic consequences, but also instrumentalises it to increase its agenda for attacking labour and social rights.

In fact, what the European Union tries is to take further job insecurity, deregulation of working hours, pressure on wages, retirements and pensions, raising the retirement age, disinvestment in public services and privatisation.

What we can see is that, behind the fallacious social rhetoric, hides the insistence on the same policies and impositions that, for decades, have been responsible for the attack on labour rights and other social rights, trying to impose even more heightened levels of exploitation, degradation of living conditions, impoverishment.

It is the reality of the European Union itself that disbands the real farce of the so-called Social Summit and the so-called European Pillar of Social Rights.

The objectives they announce prove this, as exemplified by the abandonment of the objective of full employment that, for decades, was hypocritically proclaimed by the European Union, or the European Commission's proposal to define the method and criteria for setting the minimum wage in each country, which if adopted would represent an added element of pressure to contain the needed increase of the National Minimum Wage.

As the PCP has defended, the so-called Social Summit should be a moment to affirm the need for a real increase in labour and social rights, which requires a break with the policies and impositions of the European Union and the Euro that attack and belittle them.
It is necessary to break with the policy of liberalising industrial relations, generalising precariousness and temporary work, including using digital platforms; deregulation of working hours; trivialising teleworking; devaluation of wages; attack on collective bargaining; liberalisation of dismissals; raising the retirement age; taking away State's responsibility in ensuring the enforcement of labour rights - purposes that the European Union pursues.

We must break with the policy of liberalising and privatising public services - such as healthcare or education - and public social security systems.

A policy of effective convergence in social progress is inseparable from the valorisation of work and workers, from the promotion of labour and social rights, from an effective relationship of cooperation that respects sovereignty and promotes the economic development of each country, its productive systems and employment with rights.
The PCP considers that the holding of the so-called Social Summit should be a moment to affirm the need to break with the policy of intensifying exploitation and worsening social inequalities promoted by the EU.

Social rights are fulfilled by ensuring the right to work with rights, the eradication of precariousness, the defence of collective bargaining.
Social rights are fulfilled by ensuring the increase in wages, including the National Minimum Wage, the reduction of working hours without loss of wages.
Social rights are fulfilled by ensuring public services, such as healthcare and education, as well as universal and quality public social security systems.

Social rights are fulfilled by ensuring equal rights between men and women, in work and in life.
Social rights are fulfilled by ensuring an adequate response to the specific needs and living conditions of children, the elderly, of people with disabilities.
Social rights are fulfilled by ensuring that all forms of discrimination, racism and xenophobia are fought.
What is required is that scientific and technological development be placed at the service of improving the working and living conditions of the workers and peoples, and refusing its use to increase exploitation, weaken rights and degrade living conditions.

What is required is the institutionalisation of the principle of social non-regression and the reversal of the levelling down of the current working and living conditions, of which the so-called European Pillar of Social Rights is an expression.
What is required is a Pact for Social Progress and Employment that aims at full employment, the defence and reinforcement of workers' rights and other social rights, the promotion of social convergence in progress.

The dimension of problems that several countries face, including Portugal, demand the adoption and implementation of measures that, respecting the sovereignty of each country, ensure the conditions for their economic and social development, to overcome structural deficits, to restore productive capacity, raising the rights and living conditions of the workers and peoples, which are a condition for the development and creation of jobs, for justice and social progress.

The reality shows that a Europe of effective cooperation between sovereign states and equal in rights, of social progress and of peace, calls for a rupture with the policies and impositions of the European Union, founded on neoliberalism, federalism and militarism.

We remain convinced and determined in this fair fight. A fight in which large masses of workers are engaged and that tomorrow will be present in Porto, in the important national demonstration promoted by CGTP-IN, for rights and for a Europe of Workers and Peoples and which has our full solidarity!

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