European commerce unions elect leadership and set priorities for the next years

22.11.23

Commerce

From 14 to 15 November, representatives of commerce unions in 23 European countries gathered for the UNI Europa Commerce Conference in Amsterdam, Netherlands, to set priorities and elect new leadership for the next four years.

European commerce unions elect leadership and set priorities for the next years

Conference participants took stock of what had been achieved during the last four years, and it charted the way forward. The conference also heard from experiences of victories and challenges, threats and opportunities of affiliates in Europe.

Organisers held solidarity actions with affiliates’ struggles at national level, an action idon support of the Make Amazon Pay campaign and a protest outside an Albert Heijn store against Ahold’s plans to franchise Delhaize stores in Belgium. To get a sense of the proceedings and discussions, read the following thread on X, formerly Twitter.

The conference also adopted a new ambitious action plan under three pillars with the aim to promote collective bargaining as the tool to address and overcome the precariousness that commerce workers face, to strengthen the voice of workers and to improve working conditions in the commerce sector.

  1. Commerce – A sector in transition: digital and green transition, promote direct and long-term employment and fight against the misuse of franchising, unstable employment contracts, subcontracting and, in particular, the use of involuntary part time. 
  2. UNI Europa Commerce and EU: European Social Dialogue, European Works Councils and the Large Skills Partnership.  
  3. Building Union Power: building union power through organising, collective bargaining and holding multinational companies accountable

Jeff Nonato, FILCAMS-CGIL, Italy, was reelected as the UNI Europa Commerce President together with 5 vice-presidents, the members, and substitutes of the Steering Committee. The vice-presidents are Linda Palmetzhofer (Handels, Sweden), Angeles Rodriguez Bonillo (Servicios CCOO, Spain), Fatma Bugdayci-Karatas (FNV, The Netherlands), Silke Zimmer (Ver.di, Germany) and Alfred Bujara (NSZZ Solidarność, Poland).

Speaking at the closing of the Conference, re-elected UNI Europa Commerce President, Jeff Nonato, said:

“Our workers grapple with a landscape of precarious work, flexible contracts, zero-hour contracts, unequal pay, job insecurities. So it becomes important for us as a union that we must confront narratives that try to downplay the harsh realities faced by the million of workers we are trying to represent. We are UNI Europa Commerce and we do representation not because it easy. We do representation because it is tough, and at the same time we know it is essential.”

Speaking about the Conference, UNI Europa’s Regional Secretary, Oliver Roethig, said:

“In these two days, we heard in detail about the achievements of UNI Europa Commerce and the aims for the next four years. UNI Europa Commerce does not simply make a difference for commerce workers. It makes a difference for UNI Europa and services workers across Europe and beyond.”

Speaking about the Conference, UNI Europa’s Director of Commerce, Annika Flaten, said:

“The conference slogan – Commerce workers, UNI Europa – Rising and Committed to Win! – didn’t just remain a slogan, but became a tangible reality during these two days. Commerce unions across Europe are ready to tackle the most pressing issues affecting workers in the sector today. We will pave the way for forward-thinking and call for collective bargaining as the key element of democracy and the way to strengthen the voice of workers. Our mission is to win for workers through building union power in our sector, winning rights with multinational companies, promote and empower social dialogue at all levels.”

Speaking at the opening of the Conference, UNI Global Union Head of Commerce Sector, Mathias Bolton, said:

“It is through UNI Europa and UNI Global Union that we are going to make a huge difference for workers, that we are going to change the rules of the game.”

Find all the photos from the conference here. If you use some of them, please credit Photo: Aad van Vliet”.

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