Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa, addressed the affiliated trade unions to highlight the priorities for 2023.
Trade unions are changing the course of the EU. Our Regional Secretary, Oliver Roethig, takes you through what to look out for in 2023.
Posted by UNI Europa on Thursday, January 5, 2023
In 2022, trade unions made the EU change course. We now have a European Union objective that 80% of workers should be covered by collective bargaining. The EU is not only talking about Social Europe but is once again standing actively on the side of workers. Collective bargaining means better jobs, better pay and working people having a say! From now on, UNI Europa – affiliates and secretariat – will push for the 80%, through our organising work and our political work.
Romania is a case in point: 5 years ago, in finance we brought back the first sector collective agreement, despite all anti-union laws. In ICTS and Commerce, we rolled out sector strategies to organise and bargain collectively across the industry. With the EU’s 80% target in mind, Romania changed its laws to make sectoral collective agreements the standard again. Our bottom-up organising efforts are thus now reinforced by the EU’s top-down pressure. And we can see similar stories emerging in Ireland and Spain already.
UNI Europa will push for more EU support. Our first target is “No public contract without collective agreement” set in EU law. We launched this campaign at our Conference in 2021. Now, we have firmly anchored this demand on the EU agenda, not least with the support of 160 members of the European Parliament. 2023 will see a strong collective effort to win over the European Commission and the Member States.
We will also keep reinforcing our bottom-up work. Our organizing work is coming on leaps and bounds. EPOC, our organizing centre for Western Europe, is building power with some of the strongest unions in the world. In 2022, we celebrated five years of COZZ, our central European centre; and with SEEOC, we established a centre for South-eastern Europe, too. The 80% target will give us extra leverage in our organising work.
Collective bargaining is not only about how many people are covered by union agreements. For workers to have a real say, we need to expand its scope. UNI Europa does this by making space for collective bargaining solutions in EU law and sharing union practices. Currently, our focus is on ending gender-based violence, ensuring ethical AI and securing fair remote work.
The United Kingdom shows what happens when governments go against workers. We stand in solidarity with all striking workers and their unions across the country.
Finally, there is war in Europe. Solidarity with the people and workers of Ukraine. Peace in Europe in 2023!
I wish you all a good year full of focus and success.
Forward through collective bargaining: For Europe! For Workers! For Democracy!