Trade unions for inclusion of refugees

Thursday 17 December 2015

On International Migrants Day, December 18, European trade unions

  • Pledge to assist the inclusion and integration of refugees into society, particularly into the workplace;
  • Call for increased investment in public services in order to meet the needs of refugees and local communities;
  • Encourage the European Commission in its efforts to develop effective EU-wide policies for asylum and warn that credible policies are also needed for legal migration and inclusion;
  • Urge all EU Member States to show solidarity and responsibility in welcoming and resettling refugees and to open a debate on revision of the Dublin Regulations;
  • Note the value of collective bargaining in reaching agreements between employers and workers for the integration of refugees into work, and reassuring local workers that their wages and conditions will not be undermined.

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) is organising a conference in Zagreb, Croatia, on International Migrants Day to highlight and discuss a practical and humanitarian response to the refugee crisis: https://www.facebook.com/events/1659386104349001/

‘Hundreds of thousands of desperate people are risking their lives to get to Europe,’ said Luca Visentini, ETUC General Secretary. ‘This humanitarian crisis calls for a humanitarian response. Europe cannot push people back to the sea, to war zones, or to camps with no prospect of work or education.

‘The integration of refugees is the only solution: inclusion in society, and in work wherever possible. This means investment in additional public services and increased action to ensure equal pay for equal work. Unscrupulous employers must be stopped from creating trouble by exploiting refugees to drive down wages.’

Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa said: ‘Trade unions are in a unique position to help advance the integration and inclusion of refugees into the world of work. At European level we can and must push for inclusive labour market practices through our sectoral social dialogues and our work with multinational companies, for example European works councils.

European trade unions have established some 1000 contact points across Europe to provide assistance for migrants on registration, work permits, education and other practical issues.  They are now working together through a network ‘UnionMigrantNet’, set up with the help of the ETUC.

Trade unions are in the frontline of the inclusion and integration of refugees into – and in representing the rights of refugees at – the workplace, and are committed to work for the fairest possible deal for local workers and refugees.

‘Solidarity is a perhaps over-used trade union motto,” said Luca Visentini, “but in the case of the arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees into Europe, solidarity is the best word to describe what we need to maintain human decency and avoid serious conflict.’

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