The prevalence of far-right parties in European parliaments is increasing, with almost every country now having representation. It is a shared responsibility of trade unions to address this phenomenon and collectively design our firm response.
On 9 March, IUF and EFFAT organized the panel: “The advancement of the far right and the role of Trade Unions” featuring prominent personalities from academia, European and international trade unions. As a conclusion, EFFAT and IUF adopted a joint statement on our trade union’s commitment to tackling this issue. Guest speakers were called to reflect on the rise of right-wing populism and on how trade unions, based on core values of equality and pluralism, are key bastions of democratic societies.
Professor Daphne Halikiopoulou (University of York, UK) insisted that economic insecurity rather than racism, lies behind the thriving far-right. Against this background, progressive forces must be cautious not to emulate the right-wing and oversimplify complex issues, rather should concentrate and pursue their principles and knowledge of social inclusion.
Thomas Shannon (Digital Advisor from the ETUC) focused on the ETUC experience of designing a comprehensive approach to combating the danger of the far-right. By coordinating efforts, educating members, and advocating for better legislation, the ETUC is working to ensure that the values of labor unions and democracy are upheld.
Our EFFAT Vice-President from FLAI-CGIL Andrea Coinu, pointed out that the rise of the far right has threatened and weakened the tripartite dialogue between states, employees, and employers, to the detriment of workers who feel even further marginalized.
Michele Kessler (UFCW, USA), Chair of the IUF LGBTI Workers and Allies Committee, focused on the attempts of the far right to stifle freedom of expression within the LGBTQI+ community. Against this background Trade Unions have the duty to keep standing for sexual and gender diversity and strengthen their efforts as trailblazers in this area.
Siméon Toundé Dossou (IUF Africa) focused on the need for African labour unions to peacefully resist militarism as well as the modern legacy of the old colonialism through upholding the rule of local law.
Hidayat Greenfield (IUF Asia Pacific) brought the example of extremism in Afghanistan, saying that labour unions have a critical role to play in ensuring that jobs are fair and equitable. Hence, the promotion of social harmony is key to tackling an extremist regime.
Héctor Morcillo (FTIA, Argentina) stressed that trade unionists, women’s rights activists, and other civil society actors are under increasing lethal threat from right-wing governments and fascist groups in Latin America. Meanwhile, large Western corporations are mercilessly exploiting the continent’s natural resources under neoliberal laws, exacerbating local poverty. It is imperative for trade unions globally to strive for equitable production chains and robust workers’ movements.
Kristjan Bragason and Sue Longley, respectively EFFAT and IUF Secretaries General, concluded the roundtable renovating their commitment to uniting, organising and educating our members while advocating for more robust laws and impactful pro-democracy action campaigns from both governmental, societal organizations and labour unions.