Putting the money where the Decent Work is
Speech Esther Lynch, General Secretary, European Trade Union Confederation
[Check against delivery]
Director General, Distinguished Delegates,
It is a great honour to represent 54m workers and their trade unions around Europe.
We come here to the ILC seeking justice and respect. Respect for every worker, men and women in all our diversity.
The ETUC supports the call of the ITUC and the Director General for a new social contract to deliver social justice in the world and in Europe.
Europe must lead by example and it is important to recognise the recent, real progress, towards promoting decent work.
The EU has adopted a Directive on Adequate Minimum Wages, which establishes the principle of “a decent standard of living”. This Directive included the ETUC demand for a threshold of decency as a guiding principle for assessing wage adequacy. This means that statutory minimum wages should never fall below the "threshold of decency" of both 60% of the national median wage and 50% of the national average wage.
But we know that the key to both fair wages and decent work is collective bargaining. It is through proper and genuine social dialogue and collective bargaining that we can ensure decent standards of living. That’s why the Directive sets a target for collective bargaining coverage of at least 80% by 2030.
However we must ensure this becomes a reality and not just a dream it needs three things.
This means full respect for ILO Conventions.
It means recognising that collective bargaining is the prerogative of trade unions – there cannot be stepping back from that.
It means recognising our right to organise by protecting the trade union to meet with the workforce. It does not mean limiting or undermining our right to strike – as it is happening in the UK – and it never means convicting workers for exercising the right to strike – as it is happening in Belgium.
It requires all member states to live up to their obligations everywhere and always, including in Ukraine.
Anything less is to give cover to States in Europe with the worst track record of abuses in this area, such as Belarus and, by my own experience, in Tunisia. Trade unionism is not a crime.
It also means taking positive steps, such as putting EU and government spending where the decent work is.
That is why the ETUC is calling for payments from the European budget or national governments, should be allowed only if the activities they finance respect the full range of trade union rights.
The ETUC is calling for a change of public procurement rules and practices so that contracts only go to companies that recognise the right of their workers to collectively bargaining.
Public procurement accounts for 14 per cent of EU gross domestic product. But half of tenders in Europe are awarded simply based on a "most economically-advantageous" criteria.
This is driving a race to the bottom. It doesn’t have to be this way, we can have high road competition driven by investment and innovation not low road competition on low pay and bad conditions.
We call for the conclusions of this 2023 ILC to include a commitment that the achievement of the ILO decent work agenda would become a universal criteria for the grant of any financial supports and that no company that refuses the right of their workforce to organise or denied their right to collectively bargain would be awarded a public contract.
Lets put the money in companies where the decent work is.