Equality between men and women, precarious work for young people, transitions in the labour market triggered by climate change and digitalisation: these were among the main themes debated during a ETUC Summer School on 4-5 July in Montepulciano, Italy. The Summer School brought together union leaders from national confederations and European trade union federations, including the EPSU General Secretary. The results of the debates will feed into the preparations of positions for the ETUC Congress in 2019.
Unions addressed how to create an alternative economic model that brings benefits to workers and people rather than only to employers and shareholders. We stand for a redistribution of wealth, achievable through strong collective bargaining and just taxation. The key to delivering prosperity and a just transition for all and not just a few, is stronger bargaining and an end to attacks on trade unions from employers and governments. Securing a just transition in the labour market, the economy and in society, and building a social model after years of austerity and misguided structural reforms are among the future priorities of our movement.
Developing our work around migration, refugees, mobility and employment rights are high on the agenda. We do not agree with the attempts to divide workers, to split communities and to deprive refugees and migrants of their human, democratic and universal rights that have been part of our societies since the defeat of fascism and Nazism nearly 75 years ago. Unions leaders joined an action to show that refugees are not the enemies depicted by the far-right and, increasingly, the centre right parties. The central role of the ETUC in standing up for democratic values and democracy in society and the workplace was recognised. Without democracy and respect for different points of view and the right to protest and take action, workers and people are deprived of having a voice at work and influencing employment and social conditions.
The Summer School also looked at the functioning of our common European movement and in particular to the Future of the ETUC. The ETUC Congress in May next year will consider the changes that are needed to make us more effective in winning our arguments and improving working and living conditions for all. We want a trade union movement that is part of workers’ and people’s lives and that responds to the problems workers have in the workplace and in society. Having more European legislation and/or European agreements with employers on workers’ rights can be part of the solution. Actions, negotiations, lobbying: these are all part of a broad spectrum of means that we can use to exert pressure.