(8 December 2023) Leaders of European trade union confederations and European trade union federations discussed the ongoing campaign against austerity, for revised rules for European economic policy and for a Fair Deal for European workers. 12 December is a moment of mobilisation in the streets of Brussels following the French and European demonstration of 13 October. EPSU will be present with a delegation and will be joined by Belgian unionists and comrades from other countries. The next day will be the European summit where government leaders will discuss the European economic policy in Brussels.
The ETUC Executive Committee adopted:
- Its priorities for 2024 on macro-economic policy. These include a focus on the economic governance rules and changes to ensure public funding for public services and public investments are safeguarded. Another focus will be on Beyond Growth perspectives.
- A position on the European Job Guarantee as well as on the European Labour Authority.
- A very critical position on the European Talent Pools proposal of the European Commission. Unions reject this attempt by employers and some governments to get cheap labour from beyond the EU to fill staffing shortages. It is not the answer to the problem of a lack of quality jobs with good collective agreements, decent and working conditions. The proposal will face stiff opposition if the concerns of workers and unions are not addressed.
- Its proposal on promoting wealth taxes in European Union countries. Wealth taxes are needed to address growing wealth inequalities. The rich need to contribute more to society, social protection, public services and funding the just transformation.
- ETUC Budget 2024
We had a strategic debate with Enrico Letta. The former Italian prime minister has been asked by the European Council to address ways in which the Internal Market can be developed further and contribute to face the challenges the EU faces. EPSU was critical of the continued attempts to promote the internal market and more competition, opening ever more sectors for commercialisation. This is a BusinessEurope agenda of employers and businesses who refuse to take responsibility for developing rights for workers, who consistently argue for more deregulation and dismantling of public services. We asked him to develop proposals that promote human rights like in the Pillar of Social Rights (right to health, care, water, energy, good public administrations…), assist to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and move our economies Beyond Growth.
Intensive debates took place on the failure of BusinessEurope to negotiate the agreement on telework and the right to disconnect with the unions at European level. A handful of employers ‘ organisations prevented millions of workers and many employers to benefit from new rules. EPSU addressed the agreement it had reached with central government administrations and that this needs to be implemented now.
We further addressed the social dialogue in the context of the Val Duchesse summit announced by Commission President Von der Leyen in her State of the European Union in September. It is hard to see the results this summit can bring when employers walk away from their responsibilities and only focus on competitiveness, commercialisation of all aspects of live and creating an internal market of everything. These debates will be pursued.
The union leaders adopted a statement condemning the new legislation in Russia that makes it a crime to openly be a member of the LGBT+ community, to advocate for the rights of members of the LGTB+ community and oppose discrimination. Unions who defend their members and workers against discrimination at the work place can be targeted as being part of international terrorist movement.
Following discussion on the effort of the multinational company Tesla owned by Elon Musk to break the strike of Swedish auto workers, the subsequent solidarity strikes in Sweden and Denmark, the disinvestment of Danish pension funds of their shares of Tesla, the ETUC Executive Committee adopted a statement in solidarity with the striking workers.
The European Trade Union Federations proposed Livia Spera of the ETF (transport workers) as one of the vice-Presidents which was agreed.
The ETUC Executive Committee took place 6-7 December 2023, Brussels. The EPSU General Secretary and Deputy took part as well as EPSU Vice President Thomas Kattnig.