The Road to Rome

Sunday 17 January 2016

By Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary

Political and technological forces are threatening workers’ rights all over Europe. The European Commission is pushing the EU in an increasingly neoliberal direction, through initiatives such as the “Better Regulation Agenda” and is increasingly effective in its anti-worker agenda. President Juncker’s team seems set on creating an EU which put markets first, competition first – and the labour market, human, environmental and social rights in last place.

We are also experiencing a wave of anti-trade unionism around Europe which aims at restricting labour rights and lowering hard-earned social standards. Examples such as the “Trade Union Bill” in the UK – one of the most hostile bills against trade unions that Europe has seen in decades, Finland’s right-wing government’s attack on worker’s rights and collective bargaining, and Italy’s “Jobs Act” reform – which reduces worker’s rights considerably, make the need for organised counter-action at a European level abundantly clear.

On top of that, work is changing rapidly due to technological development. Jobs are changing and disappearing, self-employment – real and bogus – is on the rise and middle-class jobs are becoming low-paying jobs, while those at the top increase their share.

Modern day issues and challenges for workers and trade unions are not constrained by national borders. That means we have to find common answers in this new world of work – and that’s where UNI Europa comes in.

As representatives of seven million service workers around Europe, UNI Europa – that is all the trade unions together – has to be at the forefront of coordinating efforts to push back anti-trade union policies in Europe and rise up to the challenges brought on by digitalisation. Together, we must find common answers to these challenges to bring about a more social Europe, a Europe that boasts of a healthy labour market, happy workers, quality jobs and sustainable growth.

For the UNI Europa family, this conference will be a rallying point: democratically elected representatives of 7 million service workers will come together to discuss the challenges at hand and agree strong resolutions on how to address them.

We need to act now and we need to act together – we can change Europe for the better.

I look forward to seeing you all in Rome – Let’s change Europe, together.

Learn more about the UNI Europa conference here

Watch an interview with Oliver Roethig on the upcoming Rome conference here