The 3rd PERC General Assembly adopts new programme and elects new leadership team

The PERC General Assembly took place on 15 December 2015 in Brussels. More than one hundred twenty participants from all around Europe took part in the meeting. It was opened by a minute of silence to commemorate victims of terrorist attacks in Europe, in particular those in Paris, in Ankara where dozens of unionists were killed during peaceful demonstration and in Egypt where the Russian plane was blown up. The Assembly approved the report about activities, debated the programme for the next period and elected the new leadership team.

The meeting was chaired by Mikhail Shamkov, PERC President. He introduced the general overview of the PERC developments since its establishment in 2008, while PERC General Secretary, Luca Visentini, informed about ETUC Congress decisions. He also informed about appointment of Anton Leppik as PERC Executive Secretary in replacement of Grigor Gradev who had joined the ILO office in Budapest.

Deputy General Secretary of the ITUC Jaap Wienen introduced the ITUC priorities and the challenges the union movement of Europe face today. Anton Leppik presented the activity report for the four years period (2011-2015) that was adopted by the Assembly.

Upon request of the PERC Women’s Committee the Assembly introduced changes to the PERC Constitution so that decisions of the ITUC Congress to ensure at least 30% women’s participation in statutory bodies was duly written in the provisions related to the PERC General Assembly and the Executive Committee.

Erich Foglar, OeGB President and PERC Vice-President, presented the outcomes of the working group process that led to development of the PERC action programme for the period of 2016-2019 and Luca Visentini outlined the main action points for that period in five main priority areas:

- Peace, democracy and stability in Europe;
- Next stage of the crisis/transformation in Europe: labour market, social policy and the challenge of the rising migration / refugee wave;
- Confronting rising and multiple inequalities;
- Safeguarding labour and social rights, genuine social dialogue and collective bargaining - instruments for market correction, not for competition;
Organising and organisational development - the way to real power.

During debates about the programme the delegates voiced different elements to be taken into account in the next period: migration, refugees and the risks of nationalism, competition between the countries for investments as a pretext to lower labour costs, changing nature of work, digitalisation, role of minimal wage and collective bargaining, organising and mobilisation challenge, need to work within MNEs and their supply chains, to promote universal values and international norms. The participants underlined that in spite of different political contexts and interstate developments, the unions of Europe face common challenge of neoliberal economic agenda.

The PERC Assembly elected Irakliy Petriashvili, leader of the Georgian Trade Union Confederation, as the new PERC President. It also took decision to elect 8 Vice-Presidents to form a balanced and committed leadership team to guide the PERC programme implementation and to support the President and the General Secretary.

The elected team consists of:

Ana Maria Corral, UGT, Spain
Erich Foglar, OeGB, Austria
Marija Hanzevacki, NHS, Croatia
Nataliya Levitska, KVPU, Ukraine
Sattar Mehbaliyev, AHIK, Azerbaijan
Ellen Nygren, LO, Sweden
Mikhail Shmakov, FNPR, Russia
Anna Wolanska, NSZZ Solidarnosc, Poland.

The Assembly also expressed gratitude to Bernadette Segol, former PERC and ETUC General Secretary, Mikhail Shmakov, outgoing PERC President, and Grigor Gradev and the team he led since the PERC establishment in 2008.