ETUC Congress – New Manifesto, new team – Standing up for working people together

ETUC Congress Vienna May 2019

(27 May 2019) Europe’s voice for working women and men, the European Trade Union Confederation, set its priorities for the next 4 years. These include stronger collective bargaining, higher wages and socially just transitions. ETUC wants a reform of EU economic policymaking to promote social justice, job-friendly investment, sustainable growth, and fair, progressive taxation as objectives of EU economic policy.  Europe’s workers are experiencing the negative impact of conservative and extreme-right attacks on their working conditions as working time is prolonged, bargaining made more difficult and precarious work not addressed. Fighting for democracy, tolerance and social justice will run throughout the work of the ETUC.

The ETUC elected its new team. The General Secretary Luca Visentini was re-elected and Laurent Berger is the new President.  

EPSU speakers engaged in several debates. Thomas Kattnig defended the role of public services in the economy and the importance of public investment referring to the positive experience of the city of Vienna. Dave Prentis continued by underlining the problems of private investment in public services for example in the form of PPPs. He cited several examples of such PPPs having gone badly wrong for workers and the users of the services in the UK. Gonca Acaray the youth delegate in the EPSU delegation stressed the important role of public service workers in responding to migration and welcoming refugees including in her country Turkey. Maryvonne Nicolle defended our position on EU-level standardisation and the risk they pose to developing quality health and social care for all, and Ivana Břeňková argued for keeping strengthening public healthcare systems, giving examples from Central and Eastern Europe including the Czech Republic.

One of the high points in the Congress was when EPSU vice-president Françoise Geng got a long standing ovation for her contribution on the debate on equality. She rallied Congress behind the defense of women’s rights under attack in many countries by the conservatives and extreme right – Our Body, Our Choice. She spoke just after our Gloria Mills who as leader of the ETUC Women’s Committee inspired and warmed Congress up in her defense of public service workers, so many of them being women.

Another important moment for the Federation was when Congress unanimously adopted an emergency resolution in support of the defense of European social dialogue. Congress stated the Commission needs to respect the Treaty rules and must not interfere in the social dialogue. The emergency resolution came hours before the EPSU court case was heart in Europe’s Court in Luxembourg.

EPSU amendments on clear language on public services and public investment, and on standardisation met with large support but did not reach 50%.

Congress adopted several other emergency resolutions on Brexit on the situation in Austria where the government collapsed and on freedom and protection for Iranian unionists.

The 14th ETUC Congress took place in Vienna, 21-24 May 2019. The EPSU delegation of 16 delegates, 5 substitutes and 5 observers was led by the EPSU President and General Secretary.

For more information on the 14th ETUC Congress

For the Manifesto

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