An important campaign launched at the right time!
industriAll Europe launched a new campaign to demonstrate the positive impact of collective bargaining in delivering a better life for workers. The launch event, held in Brussels, was attended by MEPs from across the political spectrum, as well as representatives from the Finnish Presidency and the European Commission. Workers, trade-union leaders and employers’ representatives from around the continent were also in attendance.
The campaign will run under the slogan ‘Together at Work’. It will take place from September 2019 to March 2020 and is aimed at all workers whilst taking a specific focus on women, young people and those in precarious jobs. It will also seeks to influence employers and policymakers.
Luc Triangle, General Secretary of industriAll Europe, in launching the event, said:“Too often discussions about living standards ignore collective bargaining, removing the agency of workers in improving their own lives. This campaign seeks to rectify this by putting workers stories front and centre.”
Luc Triangle continued:“Over the past decades, collective bargaining has been eroded throughout Europe. Following the crisis which began in 2008, collective bargaining was consciously attacked, by both national governments and European institutions. This has left many workers unable to stand up for themselves and led to a rise in precarious work and in-work poverty. This has to end. Employers, particularly in Eastern Europe, have to sit down at the negotiating table. Governments and the Commission have to stop supporting policies that undermine collective bargaining, like imposing quotas for representativity or restricting it to only company level.”
Federico Parrinello, shop steward at a Belgian glass factory and member of the FGTB union said: “In our factory, the company agreement has given us shorter working hours and full hospitalisation insurance. Because Belgium also has sectoral and national bargaining, we also benefit from a safety net on wages and, most recently, added protections for those injured at work.”
Florin Bercea, president of the FSLI Petrom union in Romania, explained how foreign investors had pressured the Romanian government to curtail workers’ right to negotiate. This has led to many more on the minimum wage which is well below what is needed to live off. He further explained how the Troika of the European Commission, IMF and ECB had imposed heavy restrictions on collective bargaining in Romania during the crisis which have yet to be reversed.
Darko Davidovic from IF Metall Sweden underlined the benefits of high coverage of collective agreements for employers as well as workers. By reducing wage competition, companies have more security to invest and compete on innovation, not by undercutting their employees’ standard of living.
Evelyn Regner MEP (S&D, Austria) stated: “Wage rises happen because trade unions fight and negotiate for them but sometimes workers don't realise [...] Collective bargaining needs to be at the front of everyone's minds.”
From the floor Domenec Ruiz Devesa (S&D, Spain) and Marc Botenga (GUE, Belgium) added their support for stronger collective bargaining, underlining the advantages for society as a whole.
The point was then taken up by Pelle Hilmersson, Deputy General Secretary of the European Confederation of Trade Unions, who stated: “In many European countries, social partners are unable to exercise their fundamental rights to bargain. But collective bargaining tackles inequality and delivers growth. It strengthens democracy and creates a fairer society.”
Jenni Karjalainen, special advisor to the Finnish minister of employment, commented: “It's good to talk about collective bargaining and not just social dialogue [...] It’s true that work is the best tool to fight poverty, but only when they are decent jobs with decent pay”
In concluding, Gaby Bischoff MEP (S&D, Germany), former president of the Economic and Social Committee, said: “Whether the EU supports or destroys collective bargaining is nothing more than a political choice. This is a timely campaign to repair the harm that was done. The only way to address inequality in Europe is through giving workers a voice.”
The launch event of the campaign in the news and on affiliates’ information sites:
Affiliates' and national press:
- Federaţa europeană a sindicatelor din industrie lansează campania "Together at Work"
- Romanian national press agency
- Európske odborové zväzy z IndustriAll spúšťajú kampaň na podporu kolektívneho vyjednávania, zapojí sa aj OZ KOVO
- Medzinárodné kampane
- Unite Live - Together at work - industriAll Europe makes the case for collective bargaining in new campaign
- The World News - Bringing collective bargaining back
- This new pan-European campaign could put workers back at the negotiating table
- Bringing collective bargaining back
- Winning the Argument on Bargaining
For more information or further comment, please contact Patricia Velicu: Patricia.Velicu@industriall-europe.eu