European Trade Union Confederation


The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) is the major trade union organisation representing workers at European level. European integration has reinforced the EU's role in economic, employment and social policy throughout the 28 Member States. The ETUC is a European social partner, which means that the European Commission consults it when developing social and economic policies. It also negotiates autonomous agreements and work programmes with European employers. And it coordinates the national and sectoral policies of its affiliates on social and economic matters, particularly in the framework of the EU institutional processes, including European economic governance and the EU Semester.

ETUC
European Trade Union Confederation
Founded1973
HeadquartersBrussels, Belgium
Location
Members
45 million from 39 countries, 89 national trade union confederations
Key people
Luca Visentini, General Secretary
Laurent Berger, President
AffiliationsITUC
Websitewww.etuc.org

History


The ETUC was established in 1973, to coordinate and represent workers and their trade unions at European level, and has grown as more countries have joined the EU. Its membership now goes beyond the 28 Member States.

Representativeness and constitution


At present, the ETUC represents almost 45 million workers across Europe, belonging to 89 national trade union confederations from 39 European countries, and 10 European Industry Federations. Within the ETUC, the Women's Committee and Youth Committee represent the interests of these two groups of members. The ETUC has set up UnionMigrantNet, with a network of trade union contact points in Member States to assist migrants and their families. It cooperates closely with the independent research and training centre, the European Trade Union Institute. The ETUC coordinates the activities of the 45 IRTUCs (Interregional Trade Union Councils), which organise trade union cooperation across national borders in the EU and defend the right to free movement of workers. Other trade union structures operating under the auspices of the ETUC are Eurocadres (Council of European Professional and Managerial Staff) and FERPA (European Federation of Retired and Older People). The current ETUC General Secretary, elected in October 2015 on a four-year mandate, is Luca Visentini, from the UIL trade union in Italy. The President is Rudy de Leeuw, President of the FGTB in Belgium. The two Deputy General Secretaries are Veronica Nilsson and Peter Scherrer, and the Confederal Secretaries are Liina Carr, Esther Lynch, Montserrat Mir Roca, and Thiébaut Weber. The ETUC's delegate Congress, which takes place every four years, approves and amends the Constitution and elects its leadership team. All policies and activities are agreed by affiliates' representatives, who maintain their own independence. The 13th Congress took place in Paris on 29 September-2 October 2015.

Mission and activities


The ETUC's mission is to encourage European unity, peace and stability, enabling working people and their families to enjoy full human, civil, social and employment rights and high living standards. To achieve this, it promotes the European social model, combining sustainable economic growth with ever-improving living and working conditions, including full employment, well-functioning social dialogue and industrial relations, social protection, equal opportunities, good quality jobs, social inclusion, and an open and democratic policy-making process that involves citizens fully in the decisions that affect them. At the 2015 Paris Congress, the ETUC agreed a Manifesto and an Action Programme for the four years until 2019. These documents focus on three objectives:

  • A strong economy that serves the people
  • Stronger unions for democratic values and democracy at work
  • A core of ambitious social standards

A strong economy

The ETUC works with all the EU governing bodies: Presidency, Council, Commission and Parliament. Its right to represent the interests of European workers in the formulation of EU macroeconomic and employment policy is articulated in the EU Treaty. It takes part in bi-annual Tripartite Social Summits; responds to European Commission proposals; liaises with a cross-party Intergroup of MEPs in the European Parliament; and coordinates trade union participation in a number of advisory bodies, including the tripartite EU agencies for vocational training (CEDEFOP), improvement of living and working conditions (Eurofound), and health and safety (EU-OSHA). It works closely with the Workers' Group in the Economic and Social Committee.

At the meetings of the Macroeconomic Dialogue (MED), established in 1998, the social partners discuss economic policy with the EU Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN), the European Central Bank (ECB), and the commission. The ETUC wants greater trade union participation in economic governance at both EU and national level. The ETUC supports public investment, a green economy, fair taxation and quality jobs for all. It opposes precarious work and austerity policies.

Stronger unions

The ETUC regards collective bargaining and social dialogue, and workplace and industrial democracy as key to innovation, productivity and growth in Europe. It therefore promotes capacity building for trade unions across Europe. The social dialogue between the ETUC and European employers supplements the national social dialogues in the Member States. The ETUC supports European Works Councils, and workers' consultation and participation in decision-making. EU cross-industry social dialogue was formally launched in 1985, with the support of former Commission President Jacques Delors. It has evolved through three stages: I – (1985–1991) Bipartite activities culminated in the adoption of resolutions, declarations and common opinions, which did not have binding effect. II – (1992–1999) An accord between the social partners, signed on 31 October 1991 and subsequently annexed to the 1992 Maastricht Treaty in the form of a Social Protocol, enabled European social partner agreements to have legal force through a Council decision. In 1997, the agreement was written into the Treaty of Amsterdam (Articles 154 and 155 TFEU). European social dialogue led to the implementation of three framework agreements (parental leave in 1995 – revised in 2009, part-time work in 1997, and fixed-term contracts in 1999) via EU Directives. III – (1999–2005) In December 2001, the European social partners presented a "common contribution" to the Laeken European Council. In accordance with the 1991 agreement (Art. 155 par 2 TFEU), this moved towards greater independence and autonomy of the social dialogue. Since 2002, the social partners have concluded autonomous agreements on:

  • Telework (2002)
  • Work-related stress (2004)
  • Harassment and violence at work (2007)
  • Inclusive labour markets (2010)
  • A framework of actions for the lifelong development of competencies and qualifications (2002), a framework of actions on gender equality (2005), and a framework of actions on youth employment (2013).

These are implemented by the social partners themselves at national, regional and enterprise level. The social partners' new Multiannual Work Programme runs until 2017 and foresees an accord on active ageing. In the field of collective bargaining and wage policy, the ETUC has coordinated affiliates' activities since 1999. From 2012, the ETUC also started to coordinate trade union participation in EU economic governance and the Semester process. Every year the ETUC updates its priorities and initiatives on industrial relations and wage developments, with a view to improving working and living conditions across Europe, to achieve better wages for all workers, ensure equal treatment, combat inequalities, support capacity building for sound industrial relations and promote collective bargaining in all EU countries. The ETUC favours a holistic approach to workers' involvement, including stronger information and consultation rights, board-level participation in European company forms, and support for European Works Councils. The ETUC presses for information and consultation for workers, in particular to anticipate change or company restructuring (to cut job losses), and throughout the subcontracting chain.

Ambitious social standards

The ETUC is committed to pursuing social progress across the EU – an objective enshrined in the EU Treaty. It therefore calls for high-quality public services and social protection, gender equality, worker mobility, and high health and safety standards, with an end to social dumping and discrimination. The ETUC defends the European social model as a key factor in promoting not only social justice and cohesion, but also economic growth, productivity and competitiveness in the EU. When necessary, the ETUC pursues its vision of Social Europe through direct action, such as Euro-demonstrations and campaigns, and works with civil society partners to achieve social justice and progress for workers and their families across Europe. The ETUC is recognised by the European Union, by the Council of Europe and by the European Free Trade Association as the only representative cross-sectoral trade union organisation at European level.

Future challenges

At its Congress in Paris, the ETUC launched a broad discussion on the role and future of trade unionism in Europe, in the face of globalisation and austerity policies affecting society in Europe and the rest of the world. The discussion has been widened to address the future of the EU, facing challenges like the refugee emergency, Brexit, rising populism and xenophobia, and widespread discontent among citizens and workers about their economic and social conditions. The ETUC is launching campaigns and actions, including on a fairer, sustainable economic model, quality job creation, just transition and fair trade, higher pay and wage convergence for European workers, better protection for disadvantaged, precarious and self-employed workers, and more democracy at work, in the economy and in EU institutions.

Affiliates


Affiliate[1]AbbreviationCountry
All-Poland Alliance of Trade UnionsOPZZPoland
Association of Estonian Trade UnionsEAKLEstonia
Austrian Trade Union FederationOGBAustria
Basque Workers' UnionELASpain
Central Organisation of Finnish Trade UnionsSAKFinland
Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of SerbiaCATUSSerbia
Confederation of Christian Trade UnionsACV/CSCBelgium
Confederation of Greek Civil Servants' Trade UnionsADEDYGreece
Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of BulgariaCITUBBulgaria
Confederation of LabourPODKREPABulgaria
Confederation of Malta Trade UnionsCMTUMalta
Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of TurkeyDISKTurkey
Confederation of Public Employees' Trade UnionsKESKTurkey
Confederation of State and Municipal EmployeesBSRBIceland
Confederation of Trade Unions of the Slovak RepublicKOZ SRSlovakia
Confederation of Turkish Real Trade UnionsHAK-ISTurkey
Confederation of Turkish Trade UnionsTURK-ISTurkey
Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff in FinlandAKAVAFinland
Confederation of Unions for the ProfessionalsUNIONorway
Confederation of Unions of ProfessionalsÉSZTHungary
Confederation of Vocational Trade UnionsYSNorway
Cyprus Workers' ConfederationSEKCyprus
Czech Moravian Confederation of Trade UnionsCMK OSCzechia
Danish Confederation of Professional AssociationsACDenmark
Danish Trade Union ConfederationFHDenmark
Democratic Confederation of San Marino WorkersCDLSSan Marino
Democratic Labour Federation of CyprusDEOKCyprus
Democratic League of Independent Trade UnionsLIGAHungary
Democratic Trade Union Confederation of RomaniaCSDRRomania
Estonian Employees' Unions' AssociationTALOEstonia
Federation of Trade Unions of MacedoniaSSMNorth Macedonia
Finnish Confederation of ProfessionalsSTTKFinland
Forum of Maltese UnionsFOR.U.MMalta
Forum for the Co-operation of Trade UnionsSZEFHungary
French Confederation of Christian WorkersCFTCFrance
French Democratic Confederation of LabourCFDTFrance
General Confederation of LabourCGTFrance
General Confederation of Labour - Workers' PowerFOFrance
General Confederation of Liberal Trade Unions of BelgiumCGSLB/ACLVBBelgium
General Confederation of Labour of LuxembourgOGBLLuxembourg
General Confederation of Portuguese WorkersCGTP-INPortugal
General Labour Federation of BelgiumABVV/FGTBBelgium
General Workers' UnionGWUMalta
General Workers' Union - PortugalUGT-PPortugal
General Workers' Union - SpainUGT-ESpain
German Confederation of Trade UnionsDGBGermany
Greek General Confederation of LabourGSEEGreece
Hungarian Trade Union ConfederationMASZSZHungary
Iceland Confederation of AcademicsBHMIceland
Icelandic Confederation of LabourASIIceland
Independence Trade Union ConfederationNEZAVISNOSTSerbia
Independent and Self-Governing Trade Union "Solidarność"NSZZPoland
Independent Trade Unions of CroatiaNHSCroatia
Irish Congress of Trade UnionsICTUIreland
Italian Confederation of Workers' Trade UnionsCISLItaly
Italian General Confederation of LabourCGILItaly
Italian Union of LabourUILItaly
Liechtenstein Federation of EmployeesLANVLiechtenstein
Lithuanian Labour FederationLDFLithuania
Lithuanian Trade Union ConfederationLPSK/LTUCLithuania
Lithuanian Trade Union "Solidarumas"LPSS (LDS)Lithuania
Luxembourg Christian Trade Union ConfederationLCGBLuxembourg
Macedonian Confederation Of Free Trade UnionsKSSNorth Macedonia
National Confederation of Free Trade Unions of RomaniaFRATIARomania
National Federation of Christian Trade UnionsCNVNetherlands
National Federation of Workers' CouncilsMOSzHungary
National Trade Union BlocBMSRomania
National Trade Union ConfederationCartel ALFARomania
National Union of Autonomous Trade UnionsUNSAFrance
Netherlands Trade Union ConfederationFNVNetherlands
Norwegian Confederation of Trade UnionsLO-NNorway
San Marino Labour ConfederationCSdLSan Marino
Slovenian Association of Free Trade UnionsZSSSSlovenia
Swedish Confederation of Professional AssociationsSACOSweden
Swedish Confederation of Professional EmployeesTCOSweden
Swedish Trade Union ConfederationLO-SSweden
Swiss Trade Union ConfederationSGBSwitzerland
Swiss WorkersTravailSuisseSwitzerland
Trade Union AndorraUSDAAndorra
Trade Union Confederation of Workers' CommissionsCC.OOSpain
Trade Union Federation for ProfessionalsVCPNetherlands
Trade Unions ForumFZZPoland
Trades Union CongressTUCUnited Kingdom
Turkish Workers' Trade Union FederationTURK-SENCyprus
Union of Autonomous Trade Unions of CroatiaSSSH/UATUCCroatia
Union of Free Trade Unions of MontenegroUFTUMMontenegro
Union of Independent Trade Unions of LatviaLBASLatvia
Union of San Marino WorkersUSLSan Marino
Union of Trade Unions of Monaco USM Monaco
Workers' Union - SpainUSOSpain

General Secretaries and Presidents


General Secretaries[2][3]PeriodUnion
Théo Rasschaert1973–1975ABVV, Belgium
Peer Carlsen1975–1976LO, Denmark
Mathias Hinterscheid1976–1991LAV, Luxemburg
Emilio Gabaglio1991–2003CISL, Italy
John Monks2003–2011TUC, United Kingdom
Bernadette Ségol2011–2015CGT, France
Luca Visentini2015–presentUIL, Italy
President[2][3]PeriodUnion
Victor Feather1973–1974TUC, United Kingdom
Heinz Oskar Vetter1974–1979DGB, Germany
Wim Kok1979–1982FNV, Netherlands
Georges Debunne1982–1985ABVV, Belgium
Ernst Breit1985–1991DGB, Germany
Norman Willis1991–1993TUC, United Kingdom
Fritz Verzetnitsch1993–2003OGB, Austria
Cándido Méndez Rodríguez2003–2007UGT, Spain
Wanja Lundby-Wedin2007–2011LO, Sweden
Ignacio Fernández Toxo2011–2015CCOO, Spain
Rudy De Leeuw [nl]2015–2019ABVV, Belgium
Laurent Berger2019–presentCFDT, France

See also


References