As many of you know, ACFO has expanded its international focus in the past year or two. Working in conjunction with groups such as Public Services International (PSI) and ULATOC,  a group representing financial control workers in Latin America.  ACFO has started to build the foundation of greater partnership and cooperation with like-minded professional public servants around the world.

As we mark International Workers’ Day, I believe it is worth considering the words of our friends at PSI:

Governments are not only challenging social dialogue but democracy itself by forbidding protest actions and criminalizing social conflicts. A model that incorporates privatization of public services, clawing back on public spending and reducing the size and role of the state is the package presented as an answer to the current crisis. Jobless economic growth, zero-hour contracts and social dumping create an environment that is conducive to exploitation, leading to an increase in precarious work and generations of working poor. The trickle-down economic growth approach to development promoted through globalization has failed to alleviate poverty and instead increased inequalities between and within states as well as between men and women.

PSI General Secretary Rosa Pavanelli says: “We have a responsibility to protect the interests of our members and fight for trade union and workers’ rights. We must join in collective action to ensure that now and in the future quality public services will be available to young and old, generating social justice and equality for all. We confirm and demand the right to strike for all workers in the public and private sector.”

Quality public services and social protection floors create the foundation for democracy. It is through the development and enhancement of public services we can overcome the crisis. Indeed, some countries that have come out of the crisis with less inequality are examples of how collective bargaining and income distribution policies lead to economic recovery and social inclusion. Governance, the rule of law and quality public services advance all three pillars of sustainable development. Collective bargaining and dispute settlement mechanisms in the public sector strengthen a culture of peace and negotiation, instead of conflict, impunity and corruption.

The final paragraph of that excerpt resonates particularly strongly with me. Quality public services and social protection floors create the foundation for democracy.  It’s easy to lose sight sometimes of the true value of the work we do.

Day after day we go into work and it can be easy to focus on the trees in front of us, not the forest in which we stand. We like to say that we add more than numbers; we add value. Today I hope you all take time to reflect on just what that means to your work teams, to your fellow FIs, to Canadians and indeed to the cause of democracy around the world.

What we do matters.


Milt Isaacs, CMA, CPFA

President, Association of Canadian Financial Officers