Europe/Japan trade agreement
The Global Response campaign visited the annual meeting of the Japanese Teachers Union (JTU) National Council on 14th September 2018 in Tokyo. The National Council considered the growing influence of privatisation in their country, as well as the European Union-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement. The EI’s European regional office, the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE), and the JTU have condemned the secrecy and the lack of consultation during the ‘negotiations’ of this agreement, and strongly reaffirmed that education must be explicitly carved out of such international trade agreements.
Conference ‘Strengthening the capacity of education trade unions to represent teachers’ professional needs in social dialogue”
The Final Conference ‘Strengthening the capacity of education trade unions to represent teachers’ professional needs in social dialogue” was held in Brussels from 19-20 September 2018, concluding a two-year long project.
This event started with a public hearing during which speakers from Directorate-General for Education and Culture (EAC) of the European Commission, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Austrian Presidency, and the European Federation of Education Employers (EFEE), highlighted the crucial role of education professionals in designing and implementing the European Education Area 2025, and confirmed the key role of European education social partners in enhancing the professional profile of teachers, trainers and school leaders.
Following the Public Hearing, education trade unions representatives from 29 countries of the European region discussed challenges faced in representing teachers’ professional needs in social dialogue and beyond, as well as possible solutions. Smaller working groups provided space and time for conference participants to discuss draft practical Guidelines for education trade unions on “How to represent effectively teachers’ professional needs within the unions’ capacity and social dialogue structures”.
Bologna Follow-Up Group’s plenary meeting
From 27-28 September 2018, ETUCE and other participants in the Bologna Follow-Up Group’s plenary meeting held in Vienna, Austria, focused on the work programme for 2018-2020 and identified the following topics for working groups to deal with: learning and teaching; the social dimension; implementation of the Bologna Process; global policy dialogue; quality assurance; and recognition and qualifications frameworks.
Social Dialogue Liaison Forum meeting
With a view to exchange on latest developments in social dialogue at European level, ETUCE participated with other European social partners from all sectors in the Social Dialogue Liaison Forum meeting organised by the Euripean Commission on 1st October in Brussels, Belgium.
Through round table meetings, the European social partners enabled national social partners to learn more about the instruments of and opportunities offered by efficient social dialogue. For countries where social dialogue slipped down the policy agenda because of economic concerns deemed more urgent to solve, round table meetings allowed ETUCE and EFEE members to get together for the first time in a welcoming environment and learn about each other’s positions.
Education for all
Participants stressed the need for education trade unions' involvement in European economic governance coordination, and education and training policy and reform making. They also assessed progress made on social policy and addressed the inconsistency between the tight harnessing of public finances and the possibility to make any real progress on social policies.
ETUCE and EPSU, using research by the European Social Observatory and the University of Nottingham on the involvement of social partners in the European Semester, enhanced awareness among member organisations on the impact of European policy-making on financing education and privatisation trends at national level, on fostering public-private partnership and on enhancing cooperation between businesses and education institutions.
From 8-9 October, during the ETUCE Committee meeting, participants debated the ETUCE project on social dialogue and gender equality, “Empowering education trade unions to address gender equality in the teaching profession through social dialogue”, and the report on the ETUCE Conference on “Enhancing gender equality in and through education”, held from 7-8 May 2018, in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Among the major issues tackled were sexual harassment in schools, forgotten female and LGBTI historical figures, the attractiveness of the teaching profession, the work-life balance, risks for gender equality brought by digitalisation, the retention of women in the teaching force and gender equality within schools.
European Commission’s Multi-stakeholder Platform on SDGs management committee meeting
The management committee of the European Commission’s Multi-stakeholder Platform on SDGs met on 11 October 2018. It reached consensus on a set of recommendation on how to convert the SDGs into practical solutions for the wellbeing of present and future generations in the EU and beyond, aiming to inspire and to guide the European Commission’s Reflection paper ‘Towards a Sustainable Europe by 2030
ETUCE ensured that affiliates were represented in expert groups working on the implementation of the SDGs, and advocated sufficient and equitable long-term financing of education and the protection of public education systems, teachers, researchers and education employees, students and children against the negative effects of political and economic crisis.
On 12 October 2018,ETUCE participated in the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) Economic Policy Committee meeting which discussed the EU's macroeconomic outlook, and the Economic and Monetary Union’s reforms. ETUCE continues to ensure that the voice of member organisations is heard on economic policy issues in the wider trade union movement..
Defense of union rights in Croatia
ETUCE expressed its solidarity with its member organisations in Croatia fighting for fair pension reforms by addressing a letter the Croatian Government, stressing that“in Croatia and throughout the EU, teachers, other education personnel and workers in general need decent working conditions that allow for a decent life and pensions for a well-deserved retirement after years of work.”
VET and apprenticeship policy development
From 22-23 November 2018, ETUCE took an active role in the European Training Foundation's Conference on future skills in vocational education and training (VET) for 2030. From 5- 9 November 2018, it took an active role as a European social partner in the events of the European Commission and the Austrian Presidency in Vienna during the VET Skills Week, celebrating the 5th Anniversary of the European Alliance for Apprenticeship. ETUCE contributed to the pledge of the Serbian trade union TUS for quality apprenticeship signed on 9 November. ETUCE helped select nominees for theEuropean Alliance for Apprenticeships Awards 2018 among VET teachers.
ETUCE Special Conference
At the ETUCE Special Conference on Shaping the Future of Europe: The Role of Education Trade Unions, held from 27-28 November 2018 in Athens, Greece, the European education trade union movement kicked off new priorities for shaping the future of Europe and the role of education trade unions. 300 education trade union delegates from 132 national education trade unions at all levels of education from 51 European countries debated and voted on several resolutions to face the challenges with which teachers and other education personnel are confronted. They put forward their vision for quality education as a contribution to fairer European societies and as a vital prerequisite for democracy. The resolutions adopted are the following: Resolution on Shaping the future of Europe: The Role of Education Trade Unions; Resolution on Education Trade Unions and Youth; Resolution on Setting the priorities to develop the ETUCE Action Plan for Equality; and Resolution on Strengthening academic freedom in Europe.
Participants renewed their call for increasing public investment, effective social dialogue, equality and equity in education, respect for the status of teachers and educators, fair working conditions, and reclaiming the legitimate collective power of education trade unions whose existence allows individual educators to assert greater control over their work and of their profession.
The key note speech by professor Howard Stevenson, University of Nottingham on “Education unions and trade union renewal: building capacity to support effective social dialogue” kicked off an intense plenary discussion on how to strengthen trade union renewal efforts at times of challenges around de-professionalisation, work intensification, closure of public and democratic spaces, privatisation and wider societal challenges.
Side events preceded the Special Conference providing for in-depth discussions on specific challenges and priorities for education trade unions on innovation in education, equality and equity, new forms of employment, communication and campaigning, trade union rights and migration. The ETUCE Central and Eastern European Network (CEENET) met prior to the Special Conference to evaluate the work conducted during the first 4 years of the network and to discuss future priorities.
EI and education unions from Bulgaria, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK continued to campaign for European and national public authorities to commit to progressive policies and resources to guarantee to newcomers (children, youth and adults) the right to learn and to teach. They are collecting and disseminating sucessful practices presented in an online toolkit. Audiences are organised from national and local education stakeholders, like-minded organisations and media.
The lobbying process concretely focuses on upholding the right of refugee children to be mainstreamed in inclusive public schools, and promotes the recognition of professional qualifications of refugee teachers.