EPSU-ILO Decent Work Project: Report of third regional meeting in Tallinn

(16 July 2015) Twenty-two representatives from EPSU affiliates in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Armenia, Georgian and Tajikistan met in Tallinn on 7-9 July in the latest workshop of EPSU's joint project with the International Labour Organisation training centre. {{{Freedom of association and the right to strike}}} Following a welcome from the organisers and Kalle Liivamagi of local affiliate ROTAL, the workshop kicked off with two presentations from Maura Miraglio, an international labour standards specialist from the ILO's International Training Centre. Maura explained the content of the key ILO conventions and the process of reporting and complaints and then participants broke into groups to discuss some particular examples of infringements and how they might deal with them. In her second session Maura provided some background on the recent controversy of the right to strike in the ILO and then discussed some of the key issues for public service unions, including debates around minimum service requirements during industrial action. {{{Trade union organizing public services in Europe}}} Noting the downward trends in general trade union density over the past 10 year, Richard Pond of EPSU, provided some examples of how EPSU affiliates are trying to address the recruitment and organising challenges. He outlined a number of cases from the UK (private care homes, energy), Sweden (private care homes), Austria (health and social services) and Estonia (prisons). Richard highlighted the different approaches taken by the unions in respect of the different contexts they faced but also noted the common elements - the need for face-to-face contact, the need to commit resources and the need for effective coordination and planning. {{{Labour law reforms and social dialogue in Central and Eastern Europe}}} The second day of the workshop began with two presentations from Angelika Muller, labour law specialist in the ILO's Social Dialogue, Labour Law and Labour Administration Branch. She first provided an overview of the trends in labour law reforms that have taken place in Central and Eastern Europe in recent years and then looked in detail at social dialogue structures and procedures. Participants took part in a number of exercises including one to discuss how to deal with individual and collective workplace issues both in relation to negotiations and the law and a second one highlighting the question of gender equality and work of equal value. {{{Industrial Relations in the EU: issues for trade unions}}} Evelin Toth of the ILO Training Centre set out some of the main findings of the European Commission's {Industrial Relations in Europe} report. The main trends included declining trade union density and a lesser decline in collective bargaining coverage. Some countries stood out from the trend, particularly countries like Portugal and Greece where industrial changes made under pressure from the European institutions had led to large falls in collective bargaining coverage. {{{Collective bargaining in public services}}} Richard Pond outlined some recent developments and the presented the initial findings of a survey of collective bargaining among participants in the project. The findings, covering participants from the first three regional workshops, revealed some interesting differences among affiliates in the collective bargaining process. It was notable in particular that the responses from the unions meeting in Tallinn appeared to show significantly lower levels of training for trade union negotiators than for the other groups of countries in the project. {{{Revival of trade unions: organizing young people}}} The final morning of the workshop began with contributions from four young participants who were asked for their views on what trade unions need to do to attract more young members. The colleagues from Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Tajikistan set out a number of important areas of action including education in schools, more effective use of social media, using famous faces to support campaigns, include youth issues in collective bargaining and reviewing trade union traditions, hierarchies and the way they operate.