Energy unions demand progress with Social Action Plans and consultation on Energy Strategy

(6 September 2012) The regional energy strategy for the Energy Community is to give a perspective for energy developments in the region until 2020 and even 2030. It was presented by Adrian Jasimi of the Energy Community Secretariat to a meeting of EPSU affiliated unions in the Energy Community.

The aim of the strategy is to provide a coherent framework for further developments in the countries of the Energy Community. It argues that without action the countries in the region will be confronted with lack of supply and investment. The strategy should assist in a second phase with the selection of projects of common interest including interconnection as well as improving the climate for investment. The union group made a number of comments, the main one being that the social dimension is lacking in the energy strategy and that the strategy should be accompanied with a just transition roadmap focusing on how governments will deal with the transition to a more sustainable energy sector. Moving towards a significant reduction of CO2 emissions and even a CO2 free energy sector in 2050 as foreseen in the EU Energy roadmap 2050 will require also investment in jobs, training and other measures as well as social dialogue with the trade unions.

The other main topic was the progress with the social dimension of the Energy Community. It will be 5 years since the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on the Social Aspects of the energy community for South East Europe this October. The energy unions of the Energy Community met to discuss the progress or rather lack of progress and to prepare their positions for the 5th Social Forum to take place 11-12 September 2012 in Montenegro.

Adrian Jasimi also presented an overview of the progress made to date with the Social Action Programme by the contracting parties. The unions noted that in several countries the social action plans had not yet received ministerial approval while in Ukraine and Moldova no progress was reported at all. In other countries unions have not been regularly involved. The unions reflected on the possibilities for next steps and will bring this forward in the Social Forum.

A presentation was also made on collective bargaining developments in the countries with a focus on issues such as privatisation, outsourcing, but also union membership and new sectors for union organizing such as related to renewables and smart metering. The group will continue its work.

Moldova and Ukraine became members of the Energy Community in 2010 and 2011 respectively and signed the MoU on the social aspects in October 2011. The union group welcomed the Ukrainian unions in the group. The Ukrainian trade unions presented the situation in their country with a specific focus on the process of privatisation. This process took place overnight, with limited involvement of trade unions and other groups. Several companies ended up in the hands of the Ukrainian oligarchs. Some of these companies now have the ambition to expand in Europe. Colleagues warned that the companies promote sub-contracting and outsource much of their activities with a negative effect on pay and conditions and union membership. Further presentations were made on the nuclear sector and the high voltage networks. Ukraine and Moldova are involved in an experiment that seeks to synchronise the networks with those of the UCTE (Continental Europe)

The 12th Energy Round Table was organized by EPSU with support from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and received a contribution of the Dutch union AbvaKabo. Close to 30 trade union representatives attended, from Bosnia-Herzegovina (all three entities), Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Ukraine. It took place in Kupres, in Bosnia-Herzegovina. More information on the work of the energy unions in the energy community is available at www.epsu.org/r/239

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