Strasbourg, 19 June 2021
Thank you chair.
The European trade unions and workers support this Conference and are highly committed to contribute to shaping a fairer European Union that takes care of people.
When this process was launched there was a need to reconnect citizens to institutions, to overcome inequalities and social exclusion as consequences of the financial crisis and austerity policies, to cope with the challenges of climate change and digitalisation, to rebuild European democracy.
Influential MEPs have today committed to improving the Gender Pay Transparency Directive at a trade union protest for equal pay outside the European Parliament.
Evelyn Regner, shadow rapporteur and Chair of the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee, symbolically launched the ETUC “Equal pay needs trade unions” pledge, committing to secure the right of workers to bargain collectively for equal pay through trade unions. Rapporteur Kira Peter-Hansen and shadow rapporteur Marc Angel committed by video to support the pledge.
In this issue of Workers’ Voice – National Updates we highlight how trade unions in different European countries are responding to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic by focusing on the future of work in areas such as remote and teleworking, the right to disconnect, or obtaining extra payment for the remarkable efforts of social and health carers and other workers over the last year. Elsewhere, unions are winning recognition and challenging union-busting, working for equal pay or a four-day week.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) today stated that the right to strike takes precedence over the ‘economic freedoms’ of the single market.
The ECtHR held that Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights which protects the right to strike had not been breached by Norway’s Supreme Court when it ruled unlawful industrial action by dock workers to protect their pay and working conditions.
Workers in half of EU member states are being deprived of the statutory minimum wage based on their age, occupation or because they are workers with disability, ETUC research has found.
Workers are most commonly excluded from statutory minimum wages and are paid below-minimum rates based on age discrimination, with 8 member states deducting up to 70% of the real rate for under-21s.
An 18-year-old working full time in the Netherlands would earn just 10.917 Euro in a year instead of the 21.835 Euro minimum (excluding vacation payments).
Leaders of European and Spanish trade unions today told the European Commission to stop using negotiations over Spain’s national recovery plan to frustrate reforms of workers’ rights and pensions.
ETUC general secretary Luca Visentini and UGT general secretary Pepe Álvarez, who also spoke on behalf of the CCOO, held an online meeting with Commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis to discuss his recent comments regarding Spanish government plans for progressive labour and pension reforms as part of its national recovery plan.
Responding to the economic guidance provided to member states by the European Commission today as part of its European Semester Spring Package, ETUC Confederal Secretary Liina Carr said:
“Unprecedented levels of public investment supported by the EU are returning growth to Europe’s economy, in contrast to the decade-long fallout from the austerity measures taken following the last crisis.
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) condemns the threats and insults by Bosnian Serb politician Milorad Dodik against journalist Tanja Topic.
Currently a member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dodik called the journalist a German agent and ‘quisling’. It is the latest in his campaign of threats and insults against journalists who is he disagrees with.
Negotiations between EU institutions over long-awaited legislation on country-by-country tax reporting by multinational companies were concluded last night with a disappointing agreement.
Legislation to prevent tax avoidance schemes and aggressive tax planning, of the kind to which banks are already subject to, are needed to meet important social and ecological needs at a time of rising inequality.
Dear Grigori, delegates, guests,
It is an honour to address the Congress of Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine. We have a long history of cooperation, within the PERC, but also directly with the ETUC and in the framework of the EU-Ukraine cooperation processes.
Ukraine is an associated member of the EU through the Association agreement, it is an important EU trade and international partner, it nurtures EU aspirations, and these aspirations are welcome by the ETUC and PERC.
Commenting on the European Commission’s communication on corporate taxation, European Trade Union Confederation Confederal Secretary Liina Carr said:
“The EU is losing between 35-70 billion Euro each year as a result of corporate tax avoidance, resulting in fewer well-paid jobs, lower social protection and run-down public services.
Over the last decade, platform companies like Uber and Deliveroo have exploited loopholes in the law to make big profits through falsely self-employing their workers, allowing them to avoid obligations to proper pay and working conditions.
This means workers often don’t earn the minimum wage, don’t have any paid holidays, don’t have the right to paid sick leave or any social security contributions. It’s not only unfair to workers, but to the vast majority of businesses who play by the rules and to all citizens because these practices rob public services of funding.
Commenting on the European Commission’s spring economic forecast, European Trade Union Confederation Confederal Secretary Liina Carr said:
“Today’s forecast is a vindication of Europe’s progressive response to the economic and social consequences of the pandemic.
Commenting on the overall conclusions of the informal meeting of the Heads of State /Government, in which they
Commit to reduce inequalities, defend fair wages and fight poverty and discrimination
Commit to achieve new EU targets to increase employment and training and reduce poverty
Recognise that the European Pillar of Social Rights is a fundamental element of recovery
Luca Visentini, ETUC General Secretary, said
Commenting on the declaration of the EU’s Porto Social Summit, European Trade Union Confederation General Secretary Luca Visentini said:
“Today’s declaration represents a symbolic turning point for Europe, beginning to put it back on the social path enshrined in the founding treaties that is needed to build back fairer from the pandemic.
Two of Europe’s leading economists are supporting calls for a strong EU directive on adequate minimum wages as a crucial part of the recovery from the Covid crisis.
In a significant intervention which coincides with the EU social summit in Porto, an open letter signed by professors Mariana Mazzucato and Thomas Piketty says the directive represents a “paradigm shift” in European Commission policy compared to its response to the financial crisis.
ETUC General Secretary Luca Visentini has challenged European leaders to turn their warm words over social rights into action ahead of the EU’s Social Summit in Porto tomorrow.
Speaking at an ETUC event in Porto on the eve of the summit, which was attended by Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa and European Commissioner for Social Rights Nicolas Schmit, Mr Visentini said member states had not taken enough action to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights since it was launched in 2017.
Companies from countries that allow gross exploitation of workers and flout basic internationally recognised rights should not be allowed to compete in the EU single market says the ETUC.
Tomorrow the European Commission will publish a draft regulation on distortive foreign subsidies. The ETUC says that using forced or child labour and not respecting basic rights like the right of workers to organise constitutes an unfair competitive advantage (as well as being morally repugnant) and should be considered a subsidy from a non-EU Government that does not prevent it.
Presentation by Esther Lynch, Deputy General Secretary
UNI Europa Conference "Forward through Collective Bargaining" - 28 April 2021
Thank you President.
What a great Conference!
Your message has been loud and clear every worker deserves the choice to join a union and bargain for fair pay and conditions.
The valuable reports prepared for this Conference show a full power recovery needs full power collective bargaining.
Thats why the fight against union busting belongs to and is the duty of everyone.
The number of labour inspections has collapsed across Europe over the last decade, leaving workplaces less prepared for the Covid-19 pandemic.
New ETUC research reveals that safety inspections have been cut by a fifth since 2010, falling from 2.2 million annual visits to 1.7 million.
Inspections have become rarer in at least 17 countries, including in Germany where 232,000 fewer visits were made in 2018 compared to 2010 and Portugal where checks were cut in half over the same period.
Responding to the Commission’s proposal on an EU strategy on ‘sustainable voluntary return and reintegration’ of migrants, ETUC Confederal Secretary Ludovic Voet said:
“It is totally irresponsible of the European Commission to give Frontex more powers over deportations at the very moment they are under investigation for involvement in illegal pushbacks of migrants.
The European Commission is pressing ahead with a ‘one in, one out’ rule for EU regulations despite rejecting such an approach last year and publishing evidence that it is inappropriate for EU law.
The rule, which will oblige the Commission to “relieve people and businesses of an equivalent existing burden” every time new EU legislation is proposed, is part of a new ‘Better Regulation’ policy to be published today.