450 national trade union delegates, including the leaders of 119 industrial unions from 34 countries, met to discuss trade union power in times of industrial transformation, war in Europe and multiple crises. President Michael Vassiliadis opened the event by saying that the current situation in Europe is the most challenging since the federation was founded in 2012.
The event, themed 'Power in one union - a strong voice for industrial workers in Europe', was the first major European gathering of trade union leaders and activists from industriAll Europe's affiliates since the pandemic. The aim was to discuss the federation's political priorities for the next two years, and delegates gave their strong support to the Strategic Plan 2023-2025, which sets out industriAll Europe's strategic direction for the next two years until the Congress in 2025.
Many of the highlights of the event demonstrated that solidarity is deeply rooted in the core values of trade unions.
IndustriAll Europe's new member unions from Ukraine received a standing ovation in a strong show of support and solidarity. Ukrainian manufacturing unions recently joined industriAll Europe and addressed the conference with chilling accounts of the devastation following Russia's full-scale invasion in February. Millions of jobs have been lost, millions of people have fled, former workers are now army soldiers and the government is using martial law to weaken workers' rights.
Delegates also expressed strong solidarity with trade union leaders and activists imprisoned in Belarus following the repression of democratic trade unions by the country's brutal and authoritarian regime. The leader of the Belarusian Independent Trade Union, Maksim Pazniakou, who is currently in exile in Germany, attended the event. The proud sum of 5007 euros was raised by delegates to support a charity working to free the imprisoned trade unionists.
IndustriAll Europe's first workplace diversity award went to Elisabetta Agricola of FIOM-CGIL, Italy, for setting up an online helpdesk for members of the LGBTQ+ community at her company, ST Microelectronics. The helpdesk is easily accessible and completely confidential. The award reflects the growing involvement of trade unions in promoting diversity and fighting discrimination and unacceptable treatment of any worker in the workplace.
A seat at the table through trade union power
The strategic positioning of Europe's industrial trade unions is taking place in the most difficult of circumstances: a prolonged economic crisis threatening the socio-economic fabric of the EU, an ongoing war against Ukraine with serious socio-economic repercussions, inflation and energy prices at record levels. Political uncertainty and the spiralling cost of living increase the risk of social unrest.
With their new Strategic Plan 2023-2025, Europe's industrial trade unions are determined to fortify their membership base. Only unions with strong membership will be able to have a seat at the table and make their voices heard.
IndustriAll Europe's activities for the period 2023-2025 will therefore focus on three main strategic priorities:
- Building trade union power for strong, sustainable industrial jobs in Europe
- Building trade union power for fair pay and working conditions
- Building trade union power for European solidarity and peace
- Strengthening the social dimension of the green and digital transitions and ensuring that no worker is left behind.
- Social conditionalities: tying public funds to companies that support good jobs, collective bargaining and social dialogue.
- Upskilling and reskilling to equip workers with the skills for new jobs in transforming industries
- Fighting a return to austerity and promoting fair taxation
- Protecting workers' purchasing power by strengthening collective bargaining
- Building and maintaining a strong membership base and reaching out to young workers
- Promoting worker participation. More workers will join our unions if they are listened to and have influence.
- Fighting populism and the far right
- Fighting for peace and solidarity
To achieve these priorities, our members need to invest even more in building trade union power. Delegates therefore warmly welcomed industriAll Europe's team of 5 new organisers. Our new colleagues will provide practical support to affiliates' organising projects in Central and Eastern Europe and help build and strengthen union power on the ground.
Finally, achieving our priorities will depend to a large extent on the ability of our affiliates to attract and retain young members. For their part, the youth of industriAll Europe are waiting in the starting blocks, ready to get involved in building trade union power.
Documents and materials:
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Videos: 3 strategic priorities for industriAll Europe 2023-2025