The enlargement of the European Union in 2004-2007 raised hopes that the countries of Central and Eastern Europe would integrate with Western Europe and that the East-West divide delineated by the Iron Curtain in the second half of the 20th century would finally be buried. Those hopes were linked, among others, with the introduction of western European standards in the new Member States and with the gradual social and economic convergence. We wished for our wages, industrial relations, public services and the quality of life to be the same “as in the West”. However, with every year of the EU membership, trade unions in CEE countries were growing more and more frustrated with the poor advancements and sometimes even regression in these fields.

Trade unions would express their dissatisfaction with the fact the Europeanisation of industrial relations and social standards did not always live up to their original expectations and intentions. There were also tensions within the trade union movement itself: differences of opinion on certain issues (such as the European minimum wage, posting of workers) or lack of full solidarity between eastern and western trade unions (e.g. in the European Works Councils, in cross-border restructuring processes). The voice of trade unions from the East had not always been properly articulated and heard in the European debate. The financial crisis of 2008+ further aggravated the situation, and the shadow of uncertainty has been lengthened by the devastating consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. All this is accompanied by a more general problem, namely, the evident indecision of the entire European trade union movement as to what strategy they should adopt in view of the progressing economic integration: whether it is enough just to defend the domestic strongholds of industrial relations, or perhaps it is necessary to open up to the Europeanisation of collective bargaining. 

How do CEE trade unions articulate their interests? What difficulties do they notice in the process of convergence of social standards and what challenges do they see there? What prevents these organisations from being more visible at the EU level? And, finally, is it possible, and if so – how, to strengthen the mechanisms of cross-border union solidarity? These are the questions to which answers will be sought by the participants of the seminar “The (in)visible East-West divide – trade unions' voice on the Europeanisation of social standards.” The invited guests include Luca Visentini, the General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation and Esther Lynch, the Deputy General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation, as well as trade union representatives from Central and Eastern Europe and members of the academia.

The seminar will be the culmination of a two-year international research project, "ARTUS-CEE "Articulation of the Trade Unions' Strategies on upward convergence of social standards in the enlarged European Union - voice of CEE countries” (VS/2019/0070) implemented by the Institute of Public Affairs (the Project Leader) together with partners: Central European Labour Studies Institute (a co-organizer of the seminar), University of Ljubljana, Lithuanian Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Public Policy, Centre for Economic Development.

Program

14.00 (CET)
-    Welcome – dr Jacek Kucharczyk, President of the Institute of Public Affairs
-    Introduction – dr Jan Czarzasty, Institute of Public Affairs

14.15-15.30 (CET)
I panel session  – The East-West divide under the magnifying glass - the trade unions’ perspective


-    Keynote speech: Esther Lynch, Deputy General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation
-    Panelists: Andrzej Biegun (NSZZ “Solidarność” in EWC Heineken, Poland), Plamen Dimitrov (CITUB, Bulgaria), Monika Benedeková (OZ KOVO, Slovakia), Kristina Krupavičienė (LPS “Solidarumas”, Lithuania)
-    Q&A session
Moderation: Barbara Surdykowska
Break 15 min.

15.45-17.15 (CET)
II panel session – A path to the upward convergence of social standards within the perspective of EU policy


-    Keynote speech: Luca Visentini, General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation
-    Presentation of the EU-level policy paper – Sławomir Adamczyk, NSZZ “Solidarność”
-    Panelists: prof. Guglielmo Meardi (Scuola Normale Superiore, Italy),  Józef Niemiec (ETUC), Gabriele Ibrom (IG Metall, Germany), Lucie Studničná (ČMKOS, Czech Republic)
-    Q&A session

Moderation: dr Marta Kahancová, CELSI

17.15-17.30 (CET)
Closing remarks: prof. Juliusz Gardawski, Warsaw School of Economics


Interpretation to Bulgarian, English, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian will be provided. 

We kindly ask you to register using the form below. A link to the event will be sent to participants registered the day before the seminar.

The project ARTUS CEE is funded by the European Commission - DG Employment Social Affairs and Inclusion. 



 

The (in)visible East-West divide – trade unions' voice on the Europeanisation of social standard

The form is active until 2021-01-27 23:59.
A link to the event will be sent to participants registered the day before the seminar.
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