European unions mobilized for a new social contract
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) held its 14th Congress in Vienna from 20 to 24 May. On this occasion, the organization regrouping 90 trade unions and 10 federations of European employees renewed part of its executive office. Luca Visenti, General Secretary of the ETUC since 2015 has been reappointed. This 14th Congress of the ETUC also got the election of its new president, in the person of Laurent Berger, current secretary general of the CFDT (a French labour union). Speaking at the closing of the congress, Laurent Berger, said that “European trade unionism is at a crossroads” and appealed for mobilization for a “more democratic, more social and more ecological Europe”.
A fairer Europe for workers
Gathered under the slogan “a fairer Europe for workers”, more than 600 national trade union delegates belonging to 90 affiliated national trade unions from 38 countries and 10 sectoral European trade union federations participated in the 14th ETUC Congress. Several well-known guests also spoke during the Congress, hosted by the Austrian Confederation of Trade Unions (OGB), such as Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, and Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize for Economics.
“A new social contract for Europe”
Thursday, May 23, the delegates elected the new executive. Luca Visenti, general secretary of the organization since 2015, was re-elected by delegates with 76% of the vote. Laurent Berger, the only candidate to the presidency, was elected with 95.9% of the vote. Exercising the ETUC presidency does not, however, imply decision-making power for the holder. Above all, it means bringing the ETUC executive’s word to the various EU institutions. Moreover, the principle of a rotating presidency is maintained with the election of Laurent Berger. The current secretary general of the CFDT will remain as president for two years before giving way to one of the four vice-presidents elected at the congress.
The newly elected president, declared to the daily newspaper Les Echos that he wishes to exercise his mandate in an active way ” based on the experience of the workers to address them” and commits himself to work “on the changes of work and the ecological transition “. In a speech to the delegates, Laurent Berger expressed the hope that the ETUC would commit itself as much for more effective protection of employees as in a determined struggle against nationalism, authoritarianism and xenophobia in Europe. Pronounced on the eve of the European elections, his speech was intended as an offensive response to the rise of far-right movements in the European Union.
Likewise, the delegates in their manifesto defended a “new social contract for Europe” which is also at the heart of their program of action for the next four years.
The European Trade Union Confederation: elements of presentation
Fondée en 1973, la Confédération européenne des syndicats ou CES (en anglais European Trade Union Confederation ou ETUC) regroupe la plupart des organisations syndicales européennes. Elle représente les intérêts des travailleurs auprès des institutions de l’Union européenne.
La CES regroupe 89 organisations membres issues de 39 pays européens ainsi que 10 fédérations syndicales, représentant plus de 45 millions de membres. Elle est reconnue par l’Union européenne, par le Conseil de l’Europe et l’Association européenne de libre-échange comme seule organisation syndicale interprofessionnelle européenne représentative.
ETUC Action Programme 2019-2023