Last week, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) presented its manifesto for the 2024 European election in the EU Parliament. There was a great deal of interest and approval. The aim of the manifesto is to develop a vision for the next five years in Europe. It is an invitation to the parties and candidates to endorse 12 commitments: A fair deal for workers should make Europe more social and fairer.
The European Trade Union Confederation represents over 45 million employees, 93 national trade unions and 10 European trade union federations. This makes it the most influential European social partner on the employee side. Its manifesto sets out the direction for a progressive Europe after the EU elections. The aim of the manifesto is to achieve a fair deal for employees. 12 far-reaching demands are dedicated to all policy areas that are important for the living conditions and prosperity of workers in Europe.
Twelve commitments for a fair deal for employees
The catalogue begins with the commitment to better jobs and incomes. This also includes reducing the gender pay gap. Precarious work should be ended with a legal entitlement to permanent contracts and full-time work. Employee and trade union rights must be defended with strong interest groups, collective bargaining and social dialogue. Improvements in occupational health and safety should counteract injuries in the workplace and psychosocial risks.
Another demand is dedicated to sustainable fiscal policy. Member States must be given sufficient room for manoeuvre to finance investments in a fair ecological and digital transformation. The right to lifelong training should be guaranteed at no cost to employees and during working hours. An end should also be put to social dumping and fraud. To achieve this, existing regulations must be better enforced by a more efficient European Labour Authority.
Broad approval from the political groups in the EU Parliament
At the presentation, the manifesto received broad support from numerous political groups represented in the EU Parliament. In addition to MEPs from the S&D, Greens/EFA, EPP, Renew and The Left, a large number of civil society organisations were also present. In their speeches, Iratxe García Pérez (S&D) and Terry Reintke (Greens/EFA) drew attention to the sharp rise in rents in Europe; both groups spoke out in favour of more tax justice and a strengthening of public services. Manon Aubry (The Left) pointed out that workers have had to accept high real wage losses while profits have risen sharply. Progressive forces must now stand united in favour of a fairer future. Dennis Radtke (EPP) called for a revision of the ELA mandate and emphasised that public procurement must be linked to social conditionality.
Warning against a return to fiscal austerity
Many other speakers took the floor at the event, discussing challenges concerning the working conditions of various sectors and underlining the relevance of the manifesto. The atmosphere in the packed hall was very good and there was much applause. Numerous speakers also used their contribution to clearly warn of the consequences of fiscal austerity. In view of the ongoing negotiations on the new debt rules, this issue is highly topical. When revising the fiscal rules, it must be ensured that the Member States have sufficient room for manoeuvre to boost investments.
The European Trade Union Confederation heralds the start of the election campaign with this manifesto. The results of the elections to the EU Parliament are particularly important this time, also in light of the numerous current crises. Only with appropriate majorities can there be hope that future parliamentarians and commissioners will stand up for a fair Europe with strong workers’ and trade union rights, secure jobs, decent wages, equal rights, broad collective bargaining and social dialogue.
ETUC Manifesto for the European Elections 2024
European Parliament: European Elections 2024
AK EUROPA: Promoting investment in the future and social balance? New proposal for EU fiscal rules unconvincing
AK EUROPA: European Labour Authority: Commission Proposal is eagerly awaited