Message-ID: <>
Date: Tue, 6 Oct 1998 18:47:19 -0400
Sender: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YORKU.CA>
From: Tom Patterson <tom@QUEERNET.ORG>
Subject: EU/trade union left conference/Document

European Union: Labour left co-ordination

International Viewpoint, 6 October 1998

European trade unionists convinced of the urgent need for another, social Europe, have come together to initiate a movement of reflection and initiative.

The following text is aimed at all European trade unionists who are concerned for the social development of Europe. We invite them to join our reflection. A meeting of trade unionists is planned for October 24 in Paris.

The social situation continues degrading across the European Union. The growing fragility of wage labour makes it hard to make ends meet after the 15th of the month. Because of low wages. Because of enforced part-time working. And the fear of loosing your job. Or worries about the future of your children.

The European Union has 50 million poor people, and 20 million unemployed. This contributes to the degradation of working conditions, and creates a field for racist discourse and far-right organisations.

Meanwhile, there is no real discussion among trade unionists about the objectives of mobilisation and the indispensable structural reforms. The closure of the Renault-Vilvorde factory is the symbol of non-existent Social Europe. There were several demonstrations in 1997, in Amsterdam and Luxembourg. But, while awareness of the need for a truly social Europe has made great progress, the European Union is still, essentially, a free trade zone.

Thanks to the action of the French and German unemployed, unemployment and poverty statistics have found a human face. The unacceptable is no longer bearable. An alliance is emerging, unifying the world of labour around a clear, simple objective: new full employment, and the resources for a life in dignity.

Mobilisation is still necessary. The employment chapter of the Amsterdam Treaty relegates employment concerns to a secondary position. The Consultative Employment Committee (Article 1095) does not have the same kind of powers as the Monetary Committee. The new chapter on social policy is still based on a labour-market policy which respects the limits imposed by competitiveness and favouring a neo-liberal approach (employability, adaptability). The main lines of economic policy (the Stability Pact) do not make any allowance for their effect on employment. Not surprisingly, the Luxembourg summit has not changed the direction of European construction.

Economic competition and the low-cost-labour policy are eating away at social protection. Employers' contributions to social security are being cut, and bosses get subsidies for creating jobs. Restructuring of work is reducing the workers' access to social rights and benefits. Without a social Europe, the enlarging of the European Union will increase the divergence in competitiveness, and prolong the period of social and fiscal dumping.

Economic growth has left hundreds of thousands of unemployed and impoverished workers by the wayside. It is becoming clear that the Euro, on its own, will not change this. The United States has the strongest currency in the world, but the hidden hand of the market has not created much benefit for the 30% of the population which is below the poverty line. Which proves that the (re)distribution of wealth and social justice are, above all, political questions.

As trade unionists, we cannot accept the development of an antisocial Europe which condemns millions of people to poverty. A Europe which reduces the lives of these people to something superfluous. Which confines women to part time work and the home, thus preventing the development of real social equality between men and women. A Europe which allows social segregation to grow. This situation is all the more unacceptable when the conditions for economic growth exist. Growth which would only be boosted by an increase in wages and massive job creation.

Improvements are still possible at the level of an EU member state. But European integration has reached the point where these improvements must be spread to the other countries.

The beginnings of a European employment policy worry us, because we know that neither compulsory training placements, nor labour market flexibilisation, nor workfare can solve the terrible problem of unemployment. Quite the contrary.

This is why we think that all trade unionists in Europe should begin discussing the means for obtaining:

To ensure that this social reorientation is protected in the future, we want to see democratic reform of European institutions.

We refuse to accept that the price of the Euro includes maintaining the current level of unemployment. The single currency must not involve increases of unemployment and reductions in democracy.

This is why we think that urgent social measures must be adopted.

Since the essential decisions of European construction are intergovernmental in nature, our action in pursuit of the above demands should address our respective national governments, and the ensemble of heads of state when they come together at European Summits.


Etienne Adam (CFDT URI Basse Normandie, France), Paola Agbello (secr. naz. CGIL funzione publica, Italy), Herv=E9 Alexandre (F=E9d=E9ration G=E9n=E9rale Transports et Equipement CFDT, France), Alessio Ammannati (secr. CGIL Firenze, Italy), Anne-Marie Appelmans (secr. g=E9n. Interr=E9gionale Brussels FGTB, Belgium), Michel Angot (Interco 94 CFDT, France), Chantal Aumeran (Syndicat unifi=E9 des imp=F4ts, France), G=E9rard Balbastre (FGTE-CFDT, France), Ctaldo Ballistreri (Fiat Torino direttivo naz. CGIL, Italy), Andr=E9 Beauvois (secr. r=E9g. CGSP-FGTB, Belgiqum), Paolo Belloni (secr. naz. FILCEA CGIL, Chimie, Italy), Wilma Casavecchia (secr. reg. CGIL Umbria, Italy), Henri Celi=E9 (SUD-Rail, France), Jean-Christophe Chaumeron (F=E9d. Finances CGT, France), Annick Coup=E9 (SUD-PTT, France), Giogio Cremaschi (secr. gen. FIOM CGIL Piemonte, Italy), Bruno Dalberto (Cheminots CFDT en Lutte, France), Ferruccio Danini (prez. dir. naz. CGIL, Italy), Claude Debons (FGTE-CFDT, France), Ren=E9 Defroment (CFDT Auvergne, France), Guiseppe Di Iorio (CGIL Napoli, Italy), Angela Di Tommaso (Dir. naz. CGIL, Italy), Bernard Dufil (F=E9d. Banques CFDT, France), Jean-Claude Gagna (UGICT CGT, France), Joaquin Garcia Sinde (CC.OO. Metalworkers, Galicia, Spain), G=E9rard Gourguechon (Union syndicale Groupe des 10, France), Pino Greco (secr. naz. metall., Italy), Jean-Paul Halgand (CFDT Caisses d'=E9pargne, France), J=F6rg Jungmann (secr. IG Medien Wiesbaden, Germany), Pierre Khalfa (SUD-PTT, France), Angelo Leo (secr. FILCAMS CGIL Brindisi, commercio, Italy), Piero Leonesio (secr. naz. SLC CGIL, communicazioni, Italy), Gigi Malabarba (coord. nat., Italy), Rino Malinconico (secr. naz. scuola, Italy), Freddy Mathieu (secr. g=E9n. FGTB Mons, Belgium), Jean-Claude Missonnier (Syndicat unifi=E9 des Caisses d'=E9pargne, France), Andrea Montagni (secr. reg. CGIL Toscana, Italy), Lluis Perarnau (FETE-UGT, Spain), Luigia Pasi (secr. naz. enti locali, Italy), Fulvio Perini (Dir. CGIL Torino, Italy), Jean-Marie Piersotte (secr. nat. Centrale Nationale Employ=E9s CSC, Belgium), Alain Placidet (UFICT-CGT transports, France), Maurizio Poletto (secr. CGIL Torino, Italy), Raffaello Renzacci (secr. CGIL, Piedmont, Italy), Rosa Rinaldi (secr. naz. CGIL Piedmont, Italy), Augusto Rocchi (vicesecr. CGIL Milano, Italy), Horst Schmitthenner (Nat. Sec. IG Metall Vorstand, Germany), Marc Sonnet (CFDT Provence-Alpes-C=F4te d'Azur, France), Guy Tordeur (secr. f=E9d. ACV-CSC F=E9d. Bruxelles-Hal-Vilvorde, Belgium), Philippe Vandenabeele (Centrale g=E9n=E9rale des syndicats lib=E9raux, Brussels, Belgium), Claire Villiers (CFDT-ANPE, France).