industriAll Europe General Secretary Luc Triangle was joined at the event in Brussels on Tuesday by two national trade union leaders, a senior MEP and a candidate for the position of European Commission President.

The event comes ahead of elections in which populist and far-right parties are predicted to do better than ever, putting the future of the European project at risk. The manifesto, entitled “it’s time to put workers first”, warns the European Union must be “reshaped and reformed into a more inclusive and social Europe, or it will collapse.”

Speaking at the event, Luc Triangle said:

“The future of Europe is at stake in these upcoming elections. Populist and extremist parties are on the rise everywhere in Europe. They are counting on the votes of millions of dissatisfied people and workers and the question is: why are so many millions of people today disappointed and dissatisfied? They feel left behind in the economy of today.

“They also see that there is no fair distribution of wealth taking place in Europe. There is a growing inequality in Europe, between member states but also in each country. For us it’s clear that if we want to reconnect Europe with the millions of people who lost confidence in Europe, then we need to put the social agenda first, we need to put workers first, we need to put the people first in everything we do over the coming years.We believe in Europe, we are in favour of Europe, but Europe must change and create social progress for all.”

Belgian Socialist Party MEP Maria Arena said:

“There is real disillusionment today on the part of European workers with regards to the European project because, for more than fifteen years, Europe has not been able to align itself with success on the social level.

“In terms of social protections, the problem is that since the 80s we have seen Europe come to dismantle those obtained through union battles and struggles and agreements with employers. It isn’t a coincidence if today we see the far-right mounting in Europe. I think populism is rising today in all European countries with people who no longer believe in this project. So, if we want to carry on believing in this project we cannot simply say ‘we defend the project as it stands today'.”

Marie Nilsson, President of the IF Metall trade union in Sweden, said:

“One thing that all of our members have in common is that decisions made in the European Parliament affect them every day, both at work and at home. We in IF Metall firmly believe that the upcoming elections are more important than ever before.

“We all see a rise in support for populist and right-wing parties across Europe and we unfortunately see the same trend among our membership. It goes directly against our core trade union values of solidarity, democracy and equality. So, we have to reverse this trend fast.

“We’ve all seen that the right-leaning majority in the European Parliament hasn’t put workers in the centre of their politics. We really need a left-leaning majority in the Parliament to get our fair share. We don’t want to shape European countries into the same form, but we want to put people before the market. It’s time to put workers first.”

European Left Party Spitzenkandidat Nico Cue said:

“The social vision we have of Europe is, I must say at the very least and as felt by many workers, totally broken down and so what are we doing is withdrawing into nations, into fear of the unknown and fear of one another. It’s very worrying.

“For the Party of the European Left, we want to be able to review the treaties. But reviewing the treaties without a majority in the European Parliament is very complicated, so I have been given the mandate, if possible, to speak with all the forces of the left to try to find a majority. The objective of the Left Party is to say that we return to a social bedrock to get Europe back on track.”

Josef Středula, President of the CM KOS trade union in the Czech Republic, said:

It is fifteen years since the entrance of ten new member states to the European Union and wages in the west are sometimes still ten times bigger than those in the east. In the European Union, we must produce the same quality of goods, we have the same companies, our productivity is high but the gap in wage levels is still too big.

“New members of the European Parliament will have the same wage for doing the same work wherever they’re from. European Commissioners too. But workers don’t receive that treatment. If things continue as they are, it will take 45 years for Czech wages to reach the levels that they are at now in Germany and Austria. This is the reality of the differences in the European Union. If we want to rebuild trust in the European Union, then we must do something about this situation.”

IndustriAll Europe’s manifesto calls for the following key demands:

  • Jobs: Access for all to standard full-time open-ended contracts and a pay rise for workers across the EU to ensure they get a fair share of the wealth they’re generating.
  • Social: Concrete and swift implementation of the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights as part of an end to austerity and the creation of a reliable social safety net.       
  • Democracy: That collective bargaining of wages and working conditions be enforced along with the right to information, consultation and participation in company decisions.
  • Manufacturing: A ‘Made in Europe’ industrial strategy that creates badly needed jobs and puts industry at the forefront of tackling societal challenges like climate change.
  • Environment: A ‘Just Transition’ to a low-carbon economy which ensures that ambitious environment policies are matched by ambitious social policies.

    Click on the links to read the manifesto in full: English - French - German