It may be the start of a new year, but some truths remain constant: strong trade unions are vital to ensure social justice, better working conditions and decent wages.
From progressive decentralisation of collective bargaining, to austerity measures and the marginalisation of trade unions, workers’ rights and working conditions are coming under continued assault across Europe. Only through strong, revitalised trade unions, with the creativity and new strategies fit for today’s rapidly changing world of work, can we hope to combat and reverse these trends.
To give you an idea of what we’re planning for 2020, I’ve set out below some of the key priorities on our agenda, and a flavour of the actions accompanying them.
Building Union Power
EFFAT will double down on its commitment to provide maximum solidarity to affiliates that need help defending their members’ interests, no matter the cause. We will promote the exchange of good practices on campaigning, organising and solidarity. And we must harness the energy of our affiliates to foster greater cross-border cooperation. We at EFFAT will play our part in this, through coordination, support and publicity of member actions and campaigns, as well as the use of EWCs as a platform from which to organise workers and trade union strategies across borders, but we will inevitably rely, too, on the proactive approach of our members.
Ultimately, it’s about growing trade union membership and power in our sectors, and attracting new EFFAT affiliates.
Supporting Collective Bargaining and Fair Wages
Even the OECD agrees that collective bargaining can ease transitions in a changing world of work, fostering inclusive labour markets, enhancing job quality and reducing wage inequalities – with the added benefit for employers, in areas of higher collective agreement coverage, of higher productivity growth. EFFAT will consequently seek to strengthen collective bargaining structures, at both national and sectoral level, to guarantee workers’ rights, secure fair wages and address inequalities. This work will be diverse in its application, but for some examples: EFFAT will take an active role in the EU Partnership on Industrial Relations launched by the ETUC, will seek to expand social labelling – such as the fair hotels and restaurants initiative – and will keep up its call for public procurement contracts to be awarded only to companies respecting collective bargaining.
Workers in all EFFAT sectors deserve a pay rise. Not to mention decent conditions. As you know, EFFAT will continue to coordinate its collective approach to the upcoming EC proposal on minimum wages and collective bargaining with members, guided by our agreed position paper circulated last month following outreach and meetings with affiliates. We await tomorrow’s announcement with interest!
Putting People Before Profit
EFFAT will intensify its fight against financialisation and the pursuit of short-term financial interests to the cost of workers’ rights.
We will renew the battle against precarious work, strengthening our engagement for domestic workers and pushing for a firmer legal framework covering platform workers. We will ask EWCs to sign a joint declaration against short-term profit maximisation and compensation structures that tie executive pay to shareholder returns. EFFAT will also reinforce its collaboration with sister organisations, NGOs and others to demand a fairer taxation system in Europe; we were disappointed that late last year a small number of EU Member States chose to block moderate proposals towards this goal. And we will redouble our advocacy for mandatory human rights due diligence legislation covering all companies’ operations, including their entire supply and subcontracting chains, franchise and contract management.
Modernising Trade Unions to be more welcoming to women, LGBTQI and young workers
Building on EFFAT’s Zero Tolerance Recommendations for addressing violence against women at work, and joint IUF-EFFAT Bargaining Demands for LGBTQI Workers’ Rights, we will develop a new strong gender policy learning from and providing guidance to affiliates on awareness-raising strategies, as well as pinpointing key collective bargaining demands. EFFAT also seeks to build up the conversation about work-life balance and reduced working time without pay cuts, including effective implementation of the work-life balance directive. We will pursue gender mainstreaming in all EFFAT policy fields, and renew the fight for equal opportunities, non-discrimination, equal pay and an end to workplace sexual violence and harassment.
EFFAT has already adopted new statutes to incorporate young workers and the Youth Committee more closely into its work. As part of this, we will engage actively with the Youth Committee to devise specific actions in support of relevant campaigns, in particular the global fast food workers’ movement. We will open up our internal structures to young people, while providing adequate resources and greater autonomy to the Youth Committee, so as it can identify its own priorities and implement its own campaigns. And we will continue to organise training and seminars for young workers in collaboration with the ETUI.
All this is not even to reference specifically the European Green Deal, which will shape the political economy and world of work in Europe for decades. Underlining our approach to the Green Deal will be our commitment to a socially just transition for workers, and we are encouraged that the Commission seems intent on achieving its goals in this fashion; although, needless to say, we await detailed proposals, in the announced Farm to Fork Strategy and foreseen CAP reform discussions, for a clearer perspective. EFFAT will pursue a holistic and sustainable strategy for the entire agri-food supply chain, advocating for a comprehensive Common Food Policy for the EU. We look forward to sharing our concrete proposals on these issues, as well as developing our position on the Mercosur trade deal and its potential ramifications for workers, through the course of 2020 (and beyond).
It promises to be an eventful and potentially seismic year for Europe, with key political, economic and environmental challenges in clear view; EFFAT, with the support of our members, has the backs of workers in the agriculture, food and tourism sectors.