(28 September 2020) Europe’s union leaders considered the growing impact of the wreckage the pandemic and the measures to contain it is causing. Unemployment is increasing and unions are calling for the prolongation of short-term work and other support schemes. A large number of restructurings is taking place and also in public services job cuts are announced. The unions supported the demands of the ETUC on the Recovery and Resilience Fund that is to financially support Member States. These funds will allow investments to bring the economies back on track. ETUC wants that the investments are targeted at making the transition to a green and socially more just Europe. The Executive further supported demands for a restoration of the cuts in funding for EU4Health and Just Transition. Social partners need to be involved in the national plans for recovery.
Other decisions included the agreement on campaigning around strengthening collective bargaining and increasing minimum wages. The ETUC sent the answer to the 2nd phase consultation to the Commission on fair minimum wages, demanding the Commission comes forward with an initiative for a Directive that strengthens collective bargaining and sets thresholds below which a worker’s wage should not fall. The unions debated the important role of public procurement.
Other issues agreed:
- ETUC position on the right to adequate, accessible and effective minimum income schemes
- Enhancing gender balance in company boardrooms
- IRTUCs work programme 2020-2023
- Democracy at work for sustainable restructuring: strategic mobilization. Information and consultation rights are important for workers in all sectors including in the public services. There are still many workers who see these rights denied, including civil service workers. By rejecting the social partner agreement of employers and unions in central government administrations the Commission has denied these workers their voice at work.
The unions leaders debated the social agenda of the Presidency with Hubertus Heil, Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs of Germany, currently presiding the Council. Like Commission President Von der Leyen he indicated how important collective bargaining is and he stressed the value of information and consultation.
The ETUC Executive Committee took place online 23 September 2020. For EPSU Participated vice-Presidents Francoise Geng and Thomas Kattnig and the EPSU General Secretary and Deputy.