“We don’t just want a voice. We want a say.”

“We don’t just want a voice. We want a say.”

Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa, addressed the congress of the European Trade Union Confederation on its opening day.


We don’t just want a voice. We want a say.

Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa, addressed the congress of the European Trade Union Confederation on its opening day.

Posted by UNI Europa on Wednesday, May 24, 2023


Colleagues, 80% collective bargaining coverage. It is now an EU objective! This is a victory for the European trade union movement.

A great thanks to our General Secretary. Esther, your tenacity made this happen.

Yet, colleagues, this is only a political goal. We have to make sure that the 80% are not another placebo pill – that the EU gives to its badly groomed poodle called “Social Europe”. As trade unions, we have to make sure that the 80% become a reality everywhere – first. And then we go for the 100%.

In an ever more integrated Europe, trade unions across Europe must band together: supporting each other to tackle factors from outside their respective country that impact them and their ability to bargain collectively.

Three things we need to do at European level:

First, fight for a legal and political enabling framework for collective bargaining. We are not going for ever more individual rights – we go for strengthening the collective power of workers.

Second, push European employers, especially multinational companies, to create a negotiating environment for workers everywhere – if need be through strikes. That’s all about the setting.

So, thirdly, and what we need most, is organising a strong, active membership basis that gives us workers’ power in collective bargaining.

Colleagues, many of you know me always talking about collective bargaining. True – Collective Bargaining is Not Everything, but without Collective Bargaining Everything is Nothing for workers!

We will only achieve the 80% collective bargaining coverage:

  • when we rally together,
  • when sectoral collective bargaining is the norm,
  • when services workers, many working in small companies, are properly covered.

And finally, we will achieve the 80% when the EU and governments don’t sit back, but leverage their powers. Public money must go to companies that respect workers. Public money is not there to support companies that compete on low wages and low working conditions. Our campaign is “No public contract without collective agreement”. We have the support of 170 MEPs, several of them here.

This morning, we heard from the German Chancellor and from mayor of Berlin, from the right, going in the same direction: “No public contract without collective agreement.” Let’s push forward so that the European Commission gets this message, too.


Colleagues, we want the 80% collective bargaining becoming a reality – not a promise, not a placebo.


Colleagues, most of you will know the fairytale of the frog prince. It has two endings. The Disney ending – the princess kisses the frog and the prince emerges. We tried that for years with the EU – and no prince.

If workers don’t see substantive change in the EU’s policy to bring about a fair deal, then we must consider the second, original ending: The princess throws the frog against the wall and then, there was the prince.

Fighting for trade union rights is good. Fighting with trade union power is better – it makes the difference.

We don’t  just want a voice, we want a say.

Forward through collective bargaining.

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Cleaning / Security



“Make Twin Transition” – Sweden national workshop




“No longer invisible”: Building a European Alliance for Daytime Cleaning

Cleaning / Security

Event organised by UNI Europa Property Services with the support of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES).
Venue: European Economic and Social Committee (Room JDE/61) - Brussels, Belgium
Time: 9.00 - 16.30