Trade unionists discuss strategies to combat the far-right in Europe

Trade Unions Against Far-Right: Europe webinar

(21 May 2024) The International Anti-Fascist Trade Union Network organised a webinar titled “Trade Unions Against Far-Right: Europe” with the collaboration of CGIL. The event brought trade unionists across Europe together to discuss the rise of the far-right and its impacts on labour rights ahead of the EU elections.

Comrades from Poland (OPZZ), Italy (CGIL) and Finland (SAK) presented the latest developments in their countries, in addition to the ETUC presentation outlining the situation in Europe ahead of the EU Elections in June.

Magdalena Chojnowska, OPZZ (Poland), highlighted the alarming developments in Poland, including the establishment of LGBT-free zones, strict abortion restrictions, and the indoctrination of children starting from primary school. She also mentioned the government's control over media and the use of Pegasus software for surveillance. Polish trade unions have been lobbying political parties to include social clauses in their programs to answer these issues.

Andrea Malpassi, CGIL (Italy), explained how the policies of Italy’s far-right government are linked with not only austerity measures but also the privatisation of services. He emphasised increased repression of LGBTQ+ rights, media censorship, and aggressive police interventions against student protests supporting Palestine. CGIL is running a petition to protect labour rights and demand better jobs, as they are constitutional rights.

Pekka Ristelä, SAK, discussed Finland’s current political situation in light of the Orpo government’s latest attacks on workers' rights and social benefits. The right to strike - including political strikes - is under threat. The government has also undermined Finland's traditional tripartite mechanism. Ristelä says voters should know far-right parties' anti-labour agenda before voting.

Thomas Shannon, ETUC, provided an overview of the rise of far-right parties across Europe. According to the predictions he shared, progressives, liberals, and conservatives are losing seats in the new European Parliament while far-right parties are getting more. Shannon pointed out that economic concerns are the primary motivations for many voters, as 45% of Europeans report a decline in their standard of living.

The webinar concluded with contributions from network members. FGTB campaigns on the upcoming elections in Belgium, based on fact-checks countering far-right arguments. FNV is organising an International Solidarity Festival on 21 September. A comrade from UIF presented how trade unions in Argentina are fighting against Milei’s neoliberal program.

The next webinar will be on 20 June on gender issues, LGBTQ+ rights and the far-right.

As the anti-fascist trade unions in Europe, their European federations and confederations, we are building joint answers to the rise of far-right.

You can watch the webinar here.