Upholding and Strengthening Democracy Conference

Event Type: Conference

Brussels, Belgium
10:00 - 17:00

It is still possible to register for online participation to the Conference until Tuesday 24 May 2022. To enable a well-rounded debate, UNI Europa also encourages other staff groups within your unions to attend the conference, incl. case-workers, organisers as well as Communications staff.

NB: For the physical participants, there will be a dinner at Bonsoir Clara on Rue Antoine Dansaert 22 at 19:30 on Monday 30 May 2022. The day after the Conference, on 1 June 2022, the UNI Europa Management committee will meet at the UNI Europa premises.

Topic of the Conference

Trade unions have a history of democratic culture and promoting democracy in the workplace. In an age where far-right politics, populism and authoritarianism are on the rise, we want to take a step back and evaluate how we as trade unions have a responsibility in strengthening democracy within and beyond the workplace. This conference is targeted at European services workers’ trade unions and we will take up our responsibility in strengthening democracy by exploring the reasons for the discontent in our societies as well as exchanging on tools and best practices on how to address authoritarianism attack on the trade union movement, how to deal with populist and xenophobic behaviour among our own members, and how to promote a more equal and diverse representation both in the workplace but also within our trade union structures.

The Conference will among others address:

  • concrete examples and good practices on how to improve communication with trade union members that may hold populist views.
  • experiences and good practices on how to better organise migrant workers, especially where language barriers exist.
  • how to deal with the rise of authoritarianism and how we, as the services trade unions, should deal with it at national and European level.


Session 1: How can trade unions tackle authoritarianism and the far-right at the political level

This session will look at how the attacks on workers’ rights by authoritarianism and extreme far-right forces have impacted workers and the trade unions as their representatives and how we as trade unions can counter this and continue to improve the work of the EU as a community for peace, democracy and fundamental human and labour rights in the interest of services workers.

Session 2: Fighting against far-right at the EU level

This session will address the pan-European approach of the European Trade Union Confederation alongside its affiliates of national confederations. Esther Lynch, Deputy General Secretary of the ETUC, will present the joint European trade union fight directed at the European political leadership.

Session 3: How can trade unions address members who are enticed by populist or hurtful speech and rhetoric

This session will look at the increase in racism and xenophobia and even “the anti-establishment” at the individual level in order to help better approach our members in a constructive way to build and maintain an active all-encompassing and tolerant work culture Speakers will share approaches, tools and best practices on how to approach sometimes difficult and uncomfortable topics.

Session 4: How can trade unions encourage diversity and equal opportunities at the workplace and within themselves

The best workplace democracy is where it reflects its workers, this also means that our trade union representativeness within the company and within the trade union structures themselves should be better at representing different sexes, ages, races, ethnicities, nationalities, disabilities, sexual orientations, gender identities/expressions, religions, and political opinions. This session will touch upon practical tools that can help our affiliates to build upon their approaches in encouraging the diversity and equal opportunities of their own organisations alongside approaching workplaces in a targeted way.

Session 5: Ending on a positive story – the Spanish labour reform

This last session will end on a positive note on how the Spanish affiliates fought a successful battle to repeal the central aspects of the 2012 labour reform introduced by the Spanish populist party that caused immense devaluation of labour rights and of wages. Mr. José María Martínez, General Secretary of CCOO, Federación de Servicios de Comisiones Obreras, Spain, will share his view of the pathway to change and how the ordinary working person is now better placed.


For more information, please contact Julie Jeangout julie.jeangout@uniglobalunion.org

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