With more than 100 participants from 30 unions and 20 countries, UNI Europa Commerce Conference kicked off in Bucharest, Romania, and highlighted that “E-commerce is commerce” and “UNI and its affiliates will keep organising all commerce workers”.
The Conference unanimously approved a new action plan to address changes in the sector and to grow union power in all segments—including e-commerce. The plan focuses on organising the online operations of traditional retailers and e-commerce companies. There is also a strong commitment to strengthening collective bargaining at all levels with a specific focus on sectoral bargaining, promoting gender equality and ensuring protection of the planet were among other key items of the first section of the action plan.
“Collective bargaining is one of the most important pillars of a fair democracy. Collective bargaining is public good. Without collective bargaining democracy will miss a key element!” said Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa.
He added: “UNI Europa and its affiliates will strengthen collective bargaining at all levels!”
The Conference has also unanimously adopted a second plan on European social dialogue and European works councils. This includes the development of a new strategy for the European Social Dialogue and the appointment of a European Social Dialogue Coordinator to facilitate coordination and communication among UNI Europa Commerce and affiliates. Special focus will be paid to Central and Eastern European countries, establishing and strengthening European Works Councils in key multinationals.
The first day of the conference started with the welcoming speech of Vasile Gogescu, the General Secretary of the Romanian Federation of Commerce Workers.
Per Tønnesen – President of UNI Europa Commerce– assessed the last four years of UNI Europa Commerce in his opening speech and called all affiliates to join forces to achieve a better future for commerce workers.
Bogdan Lului Hossu, President of NTUC Cartel Alfa, highlighted Romanian commerce unions’ dedication to organising commerce workers.
Minister for Labour and Social Justice of Romania -Marius Constantin BUDĂI– honoured the opening session of UNI Europa Commerce Conference and noted the importance he attaches to social and equal opportunity policies.
The importance to advancing standards in the European commerce sector was made clear from Mathias Bolton, Head of UNI Commerce. He said, “European trade unions are bearers of social conditions. You are setting the standards for European workers, but you are also raising the bar for all workers all around the world.”
On the first day of the Conference, Marcel Spatari of Syndex, Romania shared the results of the research conducted for UNI Commerce on e-commerce and digitalisation. Nick Rudikoff, Campaigns Director of UNI Score focused on Amazon and UNI’s strategy to organise Amazon workers. Stefanie Nutzenberger from Ver.di, Germany made a presentation on the dedicated fight of Amazon workers in Germany.
Erika Kahara from PAM, Finland and Emilio Fargnoli from UILTUCS, Italy addressed problems and opportunities regarding the current situation and future of the social dialogue at European level. Christian Verschueren, the Director General of EuroCommerce, joined the discussion on social dialogue and underlined EuroCommerce’s commitment in the European social dialogue. Alfred Bujara, President of Solidarnosc, Poland shared the story of what Polish commerce unions and workers achieved in their struggle for free Sundays.