Second PERC Steering Committee meeting

The meeting of the PERC Steering Committee took place on 29 April by video-conferencing. The leaders of the PERC discussed situation with the COVID-19 pandemic and its implications on lifes and work of people of Europe.

The continent has been hit extremely hard by the virus, with more than a million of contaminated people and dozens of thousand casualties, with Italy, Spain, France, UK, Belgium and some others among the most affected countries. While countries of the West of the region have been overcoming initial wave of the decease and managed to decrease its risks due to severe, but necessary, restrictive measures, and already start outlining de-confinement and recovery plans, the countries on the East are yet to reach “the plateau” and to see the effects of confinement and other measures to stop the spread of the decease.

Impacts of the virus on economies are enormously devastating. The Steering Committee discussed the trade union strategies and actions to relaunch the economy, to work in the world with omnipresent virus threat, to make sure the mistakes or policies that served the greed of few – cutting and privatising public services, including healthcare, poor or non-existent social protection, withdrawal of the state from labour markets etc. – are not repeated.
Trade union agenda on global level – within the UN and its agencies, International Financial Institutions, G20 – was presented by ITUC Deputy General Secretary Owen Tudor.

The PERC and ETUC General Secretary Luca Visentini informed about EU agenda to tackle the crisis, its outcomes and recovery plans, while Liina Carr, ETUC Confederal Secretary, introduced the EU External Aid plan that foresees EU contributions to immediate needs of healthcare systems and of fragile economies of neighbour and enlargement countries. The information about specific challenges in NIS and SEE regions was presented by Anna Salnikova and Enisa Salimovic of the respective ITUC-PERC offices.

The Steering Committee endorsed the gender policydeveloped by the Women’s Committee and introduced by its Chair Sabine Slegers.

It also denounced attempts of some governments and employers to use the crisis situation to advance attacks on workers rights and to restrict social dialog, including in Hungary, Poland, Albania, and some other countries. By ignoring the principle of social dialog the governments not only fail to respect internationally recognised standards, but also undermine the trust necessary for broad understanding and acceptance of the measures in the society and by the workers, represented by their unions.

The Secretary of the Workers Group of the ILO Raquel Gonzales informed about the deferral of the International Labour Conference due to COVID-19 and respective implications for the ILO work, while also stressing that the ILO supervisory mechanisms have to be further utilised and reinforced by submitting information about the impact of the virus on implementation of the international labour standards in practice.

The PERC leaders also discussed preparations for the 1 of May actions, took note about the work of the PERC secretariat and the process of the PERC workplan revision.