The third day of the congress set three major topics to discuss:
Collective bargaining was discussed during an interactive session in which its role in leveling the conditions of work in international companies within the EU was highlighted.
Collective bargaining is also an essential tool to eliminate the pay gap between men and women. According to the Eurobarometer of 2014, EU citizens put this question second in importance to gender equality after violence against women and they expect that urgent measures are taken to resolve it. ETUC has a valuable contribution in this regard with its recommendations within the project “Collective bargaining for equality” followed later by “Toolkit for gender equality in practice”, a project of the European social partners. FTTUB members, especially the Women’s committee, know well the projects and their products (see here). They were reminded during the last National Women’s Conference (see here) and every delegate or guest was given a “Toolkit” brochure in Bulgarian due to the kind collaboration of the ETUC Women’s Committee and especially of its Political Secretary Cinzia Sechi.
The Secretary General of “IndustriAll” Europe Ulrich Eckelmann, the President of the PERC Mikhail Shmakov, the Chairman of the workers’ group to the European Economic and Social Committee George Dassis and other union leaders addressed messages to delegates and guests.
Another important topic of the day were the high social standards – the third pillar of the new program of the ETUC. It was presented by Veronica Nilsson, confederal secretary. Discussed were the relevant texts as in the general Paris Manifesto, as well as in the detailed Action Programme 2015 – 2019. The main objective of the ETUC is to combat the social dumping – the deterioration of working and living conditions. Its genesis seems to defer – while in Western Europe it is associated with the employers’ practice of hiring cheaper workers from outside, in the Eastern part of the EU it comes mostly from the gray economy and the unfair competition that it creates. Whatever the origin is, the result is the same – lower social standards for all. Therefore, the goal of all trade unions is common – to fight against it. As the FTTUB members know, the ECI for Fair Transport sets itself the same task, offering specific legislative and non-legislative measures. A few days ago, ETF also proposed a set of measures meant to put an end to the huge abuses in the road sector (see here). Their mechanism was clarified thanks to the crucial role of the ITF/ETF “Crossroad 2” project in which FTTUB actively participated (see here).
The third topic was global – the climate change. While it is not an economic one, it directly affects all jobs in the world. The slogan “Our jobs depend on our planet” brought together leaders of the trade unions of all countries. Mary Robinson, Chair of the eponymous foundation for climate justice, personally addressed the Congress. At lunchtime, European Trade Union Institute delivered a fringe event on climate change, which has to be included among the horizontal policies in trade union activities.
Sharon Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, also addressed the delegates. She spoke of the power of unions. Recall that as a special guest at the 43rd Congress of the ITF in Sofia last year, Sharon Burrow stood up on the issue of climate change and its importance for sustainability and employment. “There will be no more jobs if we destroy the planet,” she said.
Along with these crucial debates, the presentation of the candidates for leadership positions in the ETUC was held and the vote started. The election results will be known at noon on 02 October.