Innovative Unionism Conference in Pan-Europe: Union Power in Workplaces and Beyond

16 October 2018 04:50

On 4-5 of October 2018, over 50 participants from 24 countries representing 35 trade unions from Pan-Europe and Europe came together for the BWI European Regional Innovative Unionism Conference in Pan-Europe: Union Power in Workplaces and Beyond, in Istanbul, Turkey.

The aim of the Conference, which was hosted by BWI affiliates in Turkey, was to discuss best practices of innovative unionism approaches and make inputs to the BWI Regional Action Plan based on the BWI Global Strategic Plan 2018-2021. 

“In order to fight against current and forthcoming threats on workers’ rights, we need to take stronger action by bringing innovative unionism to our common agenda and start a new global campaign. We have already built a basis for these steps at the 4th BWI Congress, and now it’s time to carry the principles of building, defending and advancing into our regional action plan to fight back,” said Ramazan Agar, President of YOL-IS, Turkish Road Construction and Building Workers Trade Union that unites 53 000 members.

The Conference provided an open platform for participants to discuss innovations on how trade unions can use labor clauses in public procurement, organize subcontract workers, and strategize against exploitation of migrant workers in Pan-Europe. 

Jasenka Vuksic, President of SGH Croatia, and Vasyl Andreev, President of Profbud Ukraine, updated participants about BWI’s Value Women’s Work Campaign Action Plan and BWI Global and Regional Youth Committee formation process in Europe. 

One of the sessions of the Conference aimed to surface problems and limits the trade unions have in direct relation to influencing policies, negotiating and organizing. Trade union leaders highlighted weaknesses in labour law enforcement systems and challenges in developing trade union organizing strategies, collective bargaining agreements coverage, and quality of these agreements.

The presentations of innovative trade union strategies and best practices from trade union leaders from Moldova, Georgia and Bosnia and Herzegovina encouraged participants of the Conference to accumulate these experiences and ideas into the design of the BWI Regional Action Plan for Pan-Europe. 

Trade union leaders shared their experience of national and sub-regional campaigns where a special focus was made on organizing Multinational Companies, safe work, and sub-regional networks, including women’s and youth networks. Participants decided to develop a sub-regional campaign for migrant workers’ rights in Pan-Europe and highlighted that it is necessary to monitor the pension age increase in the region as it is becoming serious threat to workers’ rights. 

“Unions in Pan-Europe have a great potential to fight back current challenges, but they operate under the increasing attacks from employers and governments.  In such circumstances, it is particularly important that unions show their commitment to build trade union power nationally, regionally and globally. Strong solidarity among unions will empower workers to fight for decent work,”-said Ambet Yuson, BWI General Secretary during Conference closing ceremony.