Joint ETUCE-ETUI training course "Getting Stronger Together: Trade Union Renewal in Education”


Education trade unionists from different EU and non-EU countries met in Antwerp, Belgium, on 4 and 5 December.

The training course organised by the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) and European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) explored critical aspects of trade union renewal and organising. The participants engaged in discussions and activities focussing on two key areas identified in the "Handbook for Critical Reflection", developed by ETUCE in the "Your Turn!" initiative. This training course aimed to find approaches to engaging young members and under-represented groups of workers, such as LGBTQ+, women, and migrants, and it allowed participants to exchange on reshaping the communication and narrative around trade unions.

Participants focused on the importance of strengthening organisational structures to ensure higher representation of young and under-represented members, supporting the horizontal sharing of information regarding communication activities carried out by education trade unions. They namely addressed measures increasing the inclusion of new members in decision-making bodies, their engagement in democratic life and political education to inform them about the role and services provided by the unions. In particular, participants worked around ideas to improve the cooperation and mutual support, such as in training or mentoring programmes, between new and existing union members. 

Throughout the event, participants mapped their powers and shared national action plans for trade union renewal. The discussions were enriched by diverse perspectives, creating an environment conducive to innovative thinking. The training course also addressed the importance of renewing communication strategies, such as allocating budgets for social media activities and data management to reach a broader audience, creating quality content for social media platforms, ensuring that communication platforms are accessible to all members, considering various levels of technological proficiency, and emphasising adaptability in the evolving landscape of education and union dynamics.

The event concluded with a synthesis of insights gathered from the course's activities. Participants presented their contributions to a checklist for national action plans for renewal and organising, outlining steps to strengthen their trade union. Conclusions drawn from these plans emphasised the importance of ongoing communication, adaptability, and the need for sustained efforts in engaging young and under-represented members.

The trade union renewal includes several actions, such as acknowledging the unique perspectives and needs of younger generations and under-represented workers within the education sector, innovative communication strategies, encouraging the exchange of best practices to inspire and inform other unions, and setting clear and measurable goals for union renewal efforts.

By creating a forum for ongoing exchange on trade union renewal, ETUCE aims to ensure that the momentum generated during these two days continues to benefit member organisations in the future.  The commitment to continuous learning, sharing of good practices, and the creation of a collaborative space for ongoing dialogue marks a significant step towards a more forceful and representative union movement in education. With a general feeling of unity and shared strength after this training course, education trade unions are prepared to face the challenges of the future.