With social dialogue and collective bargaining being undermined across many European countries and globally; in the  context of deep societal changes originated in the broad political agenda for deregulation and fragmentation of the labour market and of society; with educational reforms changing the world of work of teachers and other education personnel, the case for trade union renewal could not be more compelling. On 9-10 May 2019, ETUCE member organisations from EU/EFTA and EU-candidate countries gathered in Brussels to discuss the threats to unions and their members as these challenges inevitably affect the strength of education unions to defend teachers from such attacks.

During the kick-off event of the 2-year long ETUCE project “YOUR TURN! Teachers for trade union renewal”, ETUCE member organisations were provided with a platform to exchange information and to share ideas on organising and on increasing the involvement of members and their participation in union structures around campaigns, around specific needs of those under-represented categories of workers; being young people, minorities or women, and in different contexts such as, at the work-place, in the community and in society.

With the starting point being a clear understanding and critical assessment of the global and of the context-specific challenges to jobs in the education sector, the implications for union renewal and for the role of traditional unions in supporting education personnel to organise in order to assert their rights were brought to surface and discussed. The widespread malaise derived from the economic crisis could turn into an opportunity to address the social crisis that has been born out of it, by including the concerns of the most marginalised and underrepresented teachers and addressing the broad concerns of the school community around social justice and equality. Yet, intensifying organising efforts also means responding to individualisms with collective actions, community building and solidarity.

Christine Blower, ETUCE President, commenting on the work ahead around renewal stated: “Our situations and contexts vary incredibly widely across Europe. However, trade union renewal should not be conceived as something totally new for us as education trade unionists. Though it might look different in different contexts, what matters are the deep-rooted trade union values of democracy, social justice and equality which are in our traditions. Standing together in unity to face the struggles is our best mean to build our power as a group in each workplace, in each branch, in each union, in each jurisdiction and within the ETUCE and EI family.”

Susan Flocken, ETUCE Director, underlined the crucial importance of this project: “At a time when people question the value of trade union membership, ETUCE and its member organisations find it essential to mobilise, organise, recruit and retain their members thereby revealing the advantage that a united teaching profession can have in improving the attractiveness of the profession. This project, as well as the efforts of all ETUCE member organisations, will be a stepping stone in meeting the objectives of the ETUCE’s campaign, Shape the Future of Europe with Teachers.”

To know more about “Your Turn! Teachers for trade union renewal project” click here

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