The 11th Summer School of the Pan-European Regional Council

The 11th Summer School of the Pan-European Regional Council of the ITUC took place in Sarajevo, 11-13 September. More than 80 participants debated the rise of right-wing, radical and populist political forces in Europe, which resulted in significant increase of their presence in democratically elected institutions, e.g. in Austria or Italy. The meeting started with a minute of silence to commemorate Aleksandr Yurkin, former leader of Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine.

An academic insight was given by Tim Vlandas from Oxford University, Bartosz Rydlinski from Stefan Vyshinsky University of Warsaw and Bela Galgoczi from the European Trade Union Institute. Among possible reasons for the rise of the right, the participants discussed economic ones, related to dismantlement of the welfare institutions that provoked feelings of insecurity and disillusionment among the majority of population of countries that implemented austerity measures, and cultural ones, first of all related to challenges of integration of migrants – both economic and refugees – in the communities, and instigation of xenophobic attitudes, particularly, among youth, by right-wing politicians. Special attention was devoted to the shrinking democratic spaces in Hungary and Poland.

The challenges to democracy and freedom of association in NIS and SEE countries were presented by Elena Gerasimova, Centre for Social and Labour Rights, and Zoran Stojiljkovic, UGS Nezavisnost, while Jaap Wienen, ITUC Deputy General Secretary, informed about ITUC and ETUC position on the situation in Turkey, where, even if the emergency laws were lifted, the central power still has instruments to interfere into trade union affairs, including in trade union leadership election processes.

Participants discussed preparations for the ITUC Congress that would take place in Copenhagen, 2-7 December this year as well as the PERC’s role in coordinating European nominations for the ITUC General Council and Executive Committee. Furthermore, Tim Noonan, ITUC Campaigns and communications director, presented ITUC campaigns on wages and social protection in supply chains, while Jozef Niemiec, special advisor to the ETUC General Secretary, introduced results and the next steps of the ETUC “Europe needs a pay rise” campaign, preparations for the ETUC Congress in 2019 May in Vienna and EU Elections.

In parallel to the School, Global organizing academy held an annual course for young organizers, particularly for the SEE and NIS organisations. During the joint session, young organizers were able to discuss with PERC leaders the role or organizing initiatives, the place of youth in trade union structures and policies, differences of approaches in outreaching and representing various groups of workers, women and youth in particular. Brigitta Zsura, Vice-President of the PERC Women’s committee, called for more involvement in the ITUC’s Count us In campaign and lobbying work for adoption of the ILO’s convention on Gender Based Violence.

Stephen Benedict, ITUC, and Donato Kiniger-Passigli, ILO, spoke about the importance of Decent work as a tool for transition from war to peace and for tackling natural and human made disasters and the role of the new ILO instrument – the Recommendation 205, adopted in 2018. This instrument provides guidelines how social partners could be involved in prevention and resilience in the context of conflicts or disasters.

Specific information about Eastern Partnership processes and the opportunities for unions to contribute and to monitor EU-Cooperation and Association processes were presented by Goda Neverauskaite, PERC advisor, about SEE EU integration and trade union development – by Enisa Salimovic, ITUC-PERC SEE office, and about Sustainable Development Goals and Decent Work Country Programmes – by Magnus Berge, ACTRAV specialist in ILO Budapest office.

The School was financially supported by the ILO-ACTRAV.

Populism Galgoczi
Tim Vlandas Far right