PERC Steering Committee meeting

PERC Steering Committee met virtually on 8th of December. It discussed evolution of situation of COVID-19 in the region as most of the countries now experience the second wave and undertake emergency measures, that limit economic and social activities. These measures include closure of certain sectors, with severe implications for the SMEs and self-employed workers. Millions of workers in the PERC region are at risk of losing employment and incomes.

The general economic downturn exacerbates the challenge, with big MNEs are announcing and implementing collective dismissals. National support measures are expiring; national social protection systems are under the double pressure of reduced income and expanded costs; and the gap between the relatively “privileged” (protected under collective agreements, tele-work arrangements, etc.) and the “vulnerable”– including the front-line but also the insecure workforce – has only been growing.

Development, registration and application of vaccines is encouraging, with high expectations for the first rounds of vaccination already in early 2021. Simultaneously, cheap rapid antigen testing can also constitute a breakthrough in preventive policies. However, risks of further exacerbation of differences and gaps between the countries of the region – those with technological capacities and those without – are present.

Decision and outcomes of the ITUC General Council were reported to the meeting. Developments in countries at risk were debated: the continuous repressions in Belarus, the interference into trade union activities and Congress in Kyrgyzstan, new wave of attacks on labour and trade union legislation in Ukraine. On the positive, restoration of powers of labour inspectorates in Georgia and Moldova, successful joint actions of Turkish affiliates to stop legislative initiatives that would have discriminated workers older than 50 and younger that 25 years old, were noted.

Special focus was put on evaluation of PERC Women’s School with commitments and actions undertaken by the affiliates to progress on ratification of the ILO Convention 190, to invest in care economy, to close gender gaps. A new project financed by the ’Union to Union’ was introduced which will support national campaigning to achieve recognition of the COVID-19 as occupational decease in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, based on experience of Croatia.

The Steering committee has also evaluated the implementation of the PERC activities in 2020 and approved tentative working plan for 2021 and main activities for the coming months, including: PERC School on COVID-19 implications for work (vaccination and rapid testing), gig and platform economy legal frameworks and trade union campaigning, teleworking, EU Eastern Policies, next stages of the decent wages campaign, and others.