Future of Europe, CETA, self-employed and Pay Rise Campaign dominate discussions in ETUC Executive Committee

Jan Willem Goudriaan EPSU GS at ETUC EC 26-27 November2016

(3 November 2016) The European Union is confronted with several challenges and Member States do not find adequate answers. It leads to a sense of crisis of the European institutions. The ETUC Executive discussed the answers trade unions have and formulated a platform for the future of Europe. The unions focus on sustainable growth and jobs. To achieve this the ETUC has presented an investment plan. To achieve this we need reform of the growth and stability pact. Other areas for actions are the need to set up an Eurogroup of Labour Ministers and to address the consequences of climate change and digitalization through a process of Just transition. The ETUC reiterates that international trade agreements need to be fair and protected public services. Workers need a pay rise and the wages of workers in West- and East-Europe should convergence upwards. Europe needs to relaunch its social model, improve workers’ rights, address precarious jobs and provide young workers with perspective.  If Treaty changes are on the agenda a social progress protocol is to be included to ensure social rights go before profits and capital.

The Executive Committee further discussed and adopted positions on:

  • ETUC Action Plan stressing the priorities for next two years.
  • A Joint Statement on CETA The trade agreement was agreed by the governments during the ETUC Executive Committee. ETUC and CLC adopted the position stressing our concerns and the need to open the Trade agreement to include legally binding language that deals with our concerns.
  • Capital Markets Union. We note that the EU Commission proposals for financial securisation bring back the risk of contagion.
  • First analysis of the issues regarding the Multi-Annual Financial Framework of the EU. An important issue here is the extend of the EU’s autonomous budget and how this is financed. ETUC makes a number of proposals with regard to funding for measures dealing with refugees, capacity building for social dialogue, youth guarantee and the European social and structural funds;
  • The situation of self-employed workers like those working for Uber and other Digital Platforms. We will continue the discussions.
  • How the ETUC can assist unions increasing their membership and develop organizing strategies to make membership more active in the union.
  • Proposals for the Pay increase campaign. It agreed to set up a campaign committee to work further on the implementation.
  • A statement on the right to remain for EU citizens living and working in the UK, and UK citizens living and working in the rest of the EU
  • Statement for COP22 in Marrakech. We need more commitment from governments to Just transition.
  • Information of the state of play regarding the intersectoral social dialogue. Negotiations on Active Ageing are coming to an end. ETUC has insisted with the employers and with the Commission that progress is needed regarding Work-Life Balance. ETUC is open to negotiate with the employers. And if the Commission proposes better care arrangements this is welcome

The ETUC Executive fully supported the work of the Youth Committee on the EU Youth Guarantee which should be providing guidance towards a job or training within four months of leaving education or being unemployed . A new ETUC report shows that the results are disappointing. The jobless rate among young people remains at 19% across the EU, and up to 50% in individual countries. Young people are very often in precarious and low-paid jobs or internships with little prospect of career development. The ETUC calls for quality criteria for jobs and training, and wants Member States to further support national public employment services in implementing the Youth Guarantee; social partners, civil society and young people should to be more closely involved in the design, running and monitoring of Youth Guarantee measures; And there needs to be more funding. The International Labour Organization estimates €21bn per year is needed. The Commission is offering only €2bn from now to 2020.

EPSU Vice-President Francoise Geng and EPSU General Secretary attended the Executive. The EPSU GS chaired the ETUC Executive Committee on the second day. He is currently vice-president of the ETUC. The ETUC Executive Committee took place 26-27 October 2016, Brussels.