Brussels, 27 June 2023
Agenda item 03
General Secretary Report
The Steering Committee is invited to take note of the document
General Secretary Report
ETUC Congress follow-up
The ETUC Congress, Together for a Fair Deal for Workers, was a success and now
begins the work of delivering on the priorities set for the European Trade Union
All documents adopted by the ETUC Congress are now uploaded on the ETUC
website and can be found here. On the webpage, you can also find links to the
recordings of the debates and the discussions at Congress.
Distribution of tasks among the Secretariat
This Secretariat adopted a collegiate approach to determine the areas of work for each
member of the elected team.
The areas of work for the different members of the Secretariat can be found in Annex I.
It is clear that our ambitious Action Programme cannot be delivered in a single year and
the Secretariat will present to the Executive Committee at the September meeting:
- A plan of actions for the September 2023 – September 2024 period;
- The reorganisation of the Committees, including the Terms of Reference and the
Rules of Procedure, along with the meeting dates for those Committees for the
September 2023 to December 2024 period. The call for membership of all
Committees (except the Women’s Committee) will be launched following the
September Executive Committee meeting.
September Executive Committee meeting – Madrid, Spain
As agreed at our last Executive Committee meeting, held immediately after the Congress
on 26 May, the date and the location of the meeting of the Executive Committee in
September has changed.
The Executive Committee meeting will now take place on 27 September from 14.30 until
18.00 and on 28 September from 9.00 until 17.00.
The Steering Committee meeting will take place immediately before the start of the
Executive Committee meeting from 14.00 – 14.30.
Both meetings will take place in Madrid (Spain) – in person – the precise location will be
confirmed by our affiliates in Spain shortly. I take this opportunity to thank our affiliates
in Spain for their invitation and support that will allow this Executive to take place.
Please find in Annex II the updated calendar of statutory meetings for 2023.
Please note that the calendar for statutory meetings for 2024 will be circulated towards
the end of 2023 – once we have the necessary confirmation of the available dates from
Pilot – Strategic discussions at Executive Committee meetings
The Berlin Congress determined that “the Executive Committee (ExCo) of the ETUC
must focus on providing a strategic direction for the trade union movement…”
Following-up on this objective, we plan to pilot strategic discussions during the next
meetings of the Executive Committee:
- ExCo meeting – September 2023: Strategic discussion on an agenda for trade
- ExCo meeting – December 2023: Strategic discussion on a fair deal for worker in
view of the European elections (leaders of the European political parties will be invited
to respond to the trade union priorities);
- ExCo meeting – Q1 (March tbc) 2024: Strategic discussion on an ambitious
industrial policy for Europe. A strategic discussion to draw together different components.
Delivering a Fair Deal for Workers :
The ETUC has been active to deliver on the priorities set by the Berlin Congress for the
European Trade Union movement.
Emergency resolution on Qatar: The ETUC referred the Resolution on Qatar to the
ITUC for their attention and action in respect of the International Labour Conference. In
addition the ETUC wrote and met directly with the Swedish Presidency to raise the
concerns and to present our resolution. Also, as General Secretary of the ETUC, I
brought the Congress demands for a fair deal for workers forward during my address to
the Plenary Session of the ILC on the 9th of June (you can find the speech here).
Developments in the relationship between the EU and Tunisia: UGTT General
Secretary Noureddine Tabboubi, UGTT General Secretary, intervened during the ETUC
Congress in Berlin. The ETUC has written an open letter to Commission President
Ursula von der Leyen raising our concerns about the partnership package between the
European Union and Tunisia (you can find the open letter here).
Emergency resolution on Ukraine’s recovery and reconstruction and solidarity
support to the ETUC affiliates in Ukraine: The ETUC met with the Ukrainian Minister
of Social Policy Oksana Zholnovych during a meeting organised on the side the Porto
Social Summit on Saturday 27 May. We raised the need for respect for trade union rights,
social dialogue and the importance of including social conditionalities for access to
reconstruction resources. An ETUC mission to Ukraine is currently being planned and
expected to take place in September/October 2023.
Emergency resolution – Solidarity statement with Türkiye: An ETUC and Joint Social
Partner mission to Turkyie is currently being planned to focus on including social
conditionalities in the reconstruction following the earthquake. The ETUC responded to
the arrest of workers and trade unionists in the construction sector calling for their
Trade union mobilisation – On the Road for a Fair Deal for Workers
The Berlin Congress adopted a emergency resolution on European mobilisation.
The resolution outlined – amongst others: “the European trade union movement is called
to mobilize in the fight for solidarity, for European financial instruments that support
sustainable growth, employment and for an economy that gives concrete results to
workers, for higher wages and quality jobs, for greater social protection, for investments
in quality public services that guarantee citizenship rights, for strong collective bargaining
and for social dialogue, for the rights of trade unions and workers, for an increase in
public investments in industrial conversions, for a fiscal policy just and redistributive”.
On those objectives, ETUC Congress decided to promote a path of mobilisation and
actions starting from the month of June with various national initiatives leading up in the
autumn to a day of European mobilisation.
Based on this resolution, as well as on the worrying developments on the discussions on
the revision of the economic governance rules and in preparation for the European
elections, the ETUC will support and promote mobilisations by affiliates on those issues
with common messages, leading to moments of common mobilisation in the fall.
Plan for ETUC mobilisation – On the Road for a Fair Deal for Workers: July to
The ETUC will promote and support national demonstrations and mobilisation. As
outlined in the Congress resolution, “the members of the Secretariat and of the ETUC
Presidency elected by this Congress will also actively participate in these initiatives, so
as to give strength and unity to European trade union action”.
All affiliates are asked to:
- include in their mobilisations two key messages: against austerity and in favour
of a fair deal for workers;
- to identify the mobilisation as part of the ETUC mobilisation – On the Road for
a Fair Deal for Workers;
- to commit with specific numbers for two key mobilisations.
Major mobilisation – Friday 13 October: decentralised trade union demonstrations
and collective actions in different countries, with similar slogans and messages
and ETUC presence.
Reason for the date: in the middle of the discussions on the reform of the economic
governance rules, before the submission of the national budgets and before the October
Major mobilisation – Wednesday 13 December 2023: Eurodemonstration (possibly in
Reasons for the date: the day before the December European Council and strong
visibility of the trade union demands six months before the European elections.
The ETUC will establish a working group of all participating affiliates. The first (online)
meeting of the working group will be on Friday 7 July in the afternoon.
The European Pillar of Social Rights as a shield against austerity – Porto Social
The ETUC actively participated in the Porto Social Summit on 27 May. We intervened to
stress in particular that with the European Pillar of Social Rights the EU institutions
promised social progress to working people all across Europe, and that we would not go
back to failed austerity policies. The EPSR must be at the centre of the economic
governance rules and a shield against any return to austerity.
The ETUC General Secretary co-signed with Ministers, MEPs and social partners the
op-ed “Two years after Porto Social Summit: Bringing pillar of social rights to life”. The
op-ed reiterated the commitments in the Porto Social Commitment and the Porto
Declaration and called – amongst others – to bring “the principles of the Pillar of Social
Rights to full realisation” and to “give greater visibility to social rights and reinforce the
assessment of social standards and upward social convergence as part of a sustainable
socio-economic governance anchored in tripartism”.
Directive on improving working conditions in platform work
The EPSCO Council adopted a General Approach on the Directive on improving working
conditions in platform work on the 12th of June. EU ministers made an important step
towards the next phase of negotiations by agreeing the EU Council’s position on the
Directive. The EP had already adopted its report and was waiting for the Council position
to start trilogue negotiations.
Improvements to the Council position during trilogue discussions will be necessary. The
Council position is negative in particular vis a vis the following elements:
(i) workers will need to fulfil three of seven criteria in order to be reclassified
as employed – meaning there would be no ‘right to employment’;
(ii) genuine self-employed workers will be subject to the unilateral decision
by the digital labour platform on their tariffs and the restriction on the
possibility of building their own client base;
(iii) national derogations requested by Member States set a dangerous
precedent that can easily result in the loophole allowing platforms to avoid
their responsibilities towards workers.
These positions contradict the European Commission’s objective for workers to have a
right to be reclassified as an employee and the European Parliament’s opposition to the
use of criteria.
The ETUC is engaging with the progressive groups in the EP in order to exploit the (much
better) position of the European Parliament to push for a positive outcome of the trilogue
The Ad hoc group on Non-Standard work and Platform work will be kept informed on any
developments and necessary actions in view of the start of the trilogue negotiations.
Social Convergence Framework
The EPSCO Council discussed the Social Convergence Framework. The ETUC
supported this instrument in view of the Council discussions. Also SGIEurope supported
it. Most Member States expressed a positive opinion on the instrument, as did the
Commission. In line with the Congress Action Programme, the ETUC will continue to
engage to push for the Social Convergence Framework to be adopted and implemented
via the EU Semester process as soon as possible.
Council Recommendation on strengthening social dialogue in the EU
The Council Recommendation on strengthening social dialogue in the EU was adopted.
The ETUC was clear from the outset that the Recommendation must recognise the role
of trade unions as the sole actors empowered to conduct collective bargaining on behalf
of workers. It is crucial that social dialogue and collective bargaining is firmly placed at
the centre of a more social Europe. The ETUC regret that the social partners were not
consulted on the final text before adoption. We will now need to be active at European
and national level to ensure the implementation of this Recommendation must not be
used to weaken the Directive on Adequate Minimum Wages, in particular in the context
of the expert group on the transposition of the Directive and in the development of action
plans to increase collective bargaining coverage.
Informal EPSCO meeting in Madrid
The ETUC has been invited (as usual) to participate in the informal EPSCO Council
meeting organised by the Spanish Presidency. The informal EPSCO will take place on
13-14 July in Madrid. According to the programme received from the Spanish Presidency, the meeting will deal mostly with (i) National and European experiences of social dialogue (ii) State experiences and developments in European Union care policies:
social dialogue and civil society (iii) Social protection: short-term challenges and
medium-term benefits. Isabelle Schömann, Deputy General Secretary, will represent the
ETUC at this informal EPSCO meeting.
Revision of the Asbestos at Work Directive
The directive is currently in the phase of interinstitutional negotiations. The ETUC aims
to successfully contribute to this process, ensuring improved protection for workers
against asbestos before the end of the Parliamentary term. A fourth trialogue meeting
will take place 27 June. The Swedish government wants to close this dossier before the
end of its Presidency. Additionally, the Commission has announced its intention to initiate
new legislation concerning the screening of buildings for asbestos in September (initially
planned for June). A letter has been sent to Commissioner Breton, urging for an
ambitious outcome regarding this matter.
Revision of the Economic Governance Rules
A first communication on the economic governance was published by the European
Commission in November 2022. The ETUC adopted a Position on the Reform of the
economic governance (towards an EU pact for employment and investments) in March
2023. The position considered the proposals under consideration as insufficient.
On 26 April 2023, the Commission released legislative proposals to implement a reform
of the EU’s economic governance rules. The ETUC has strong concerns that the
proposed reforms would not provide the necessary fiscal leeway for the necessary public
investments and to enhance social policies.
The ETUC met with and wrote to various stakeholders of the process under debate to
defend our positions, and produced numerous press releases and a petition against
austerity in Europe (you can find the petition here).
As agreed with affiliates the ETUC has launched a task force meeting every week to
agree on a set of common amendments, in order to be ready for meetings with the
expected rapporteurs on the field. The ETUC also work closely with the fiscalmatters
coalition on the matter, providing ground for discussion and common views.
The ETUC General Secretary met on the 5th of June ECB President Christine Lagarde
to discuss inflation and the cost of living crisis, where we argued inflation is being driven
by profits not wages and the damages of the increases in interest rates.
Artificial Intelligence Act
On 14 June, the European Parliament adopted its position on the AI Act in plenary by an
overwhelming majority. The position is a compromise of the major political groups (EPP,
S&D, Renew and Greens). A positive assessment can be made. The EP position
includes the following elements:
- A duty to consult with workers and their unions before introducing AI to the
- A duty to carry out an assessment of the impact on fundamental rights of the
introduction of AI;
- An opening clause for national legislators to limit the use of AI systems to protect
- A ban of public facial recognition and other biometric surveillance in public
However, the already weak protection standards have been watered down even further
with a restriction that only AI applications from Annex III that pose “significant” risk of
harm to the health, safety or fundamental rights of natural persons are classified as highrisk.
This would include, in particular, applications in the workplace. In practice, this is
virtually impossible to achieve ex-ante. This constitutes a major loophole in the agreed
text. It is also worrying that the use of AI affecting people’s fundamental rights will fall
within the remit of standardisation process, which is led by private business interests and
The trilogue negotiations started on the same day as the EP vote. Both positions, those
of the European Council and the European Parliament, do not provide sufficient
protection for workers, which again underlines the need for a separate directive on
algorithmic systems in the workplace.
Other important votes in the European Parliament
Other important votes took place in the European Parliament in the last weeks on the
Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence (see press release here) and on the
legislative report on Quality Traineeships (see press release here).
Definition of the areas of work for the Secretariat based on the chapters and sub-chapters of the Congress Action Programme