Monday, 01.04.19 - Hotel Korona

The workers' rights in Europe and Hungary

"The workers' rights in Europe and Hungary" was the title of the panel discussion hosted jointly by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-PERC) on April 1, 2019 in Budapest.

Looking at 100 years of International Labor Organization (ILO) history, the founding principles are still relevant and topical. Owen Tudor, Deputy Secretary-General of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), recalled these principles in his opening speech and noted that these principles are under growing pressure, especially when populism and nationalism are on the rise worldwide. Although international trade union federations can influence the legislative process through ILO and other political institutions, employee rights must be enforced at national level by workers’ representations.


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Growing global inequalities and people's fears caused by this are the best breeding ground for nationalism and impede decision making at multinational institutions. Magnus Berge, Senior Specialist and Representative of the ILO Workers’ Activities for Eastern Europe, said that nationalist governments often disrupt workers' rights and institutions asserting democratic control with the aim of providing more favorable investment and production conditions to companies operating globally within the context of international competition. Plamen Dimitrov, Chairman of ITUC's Committee on Human Rights and Trade Union Rights and President of the Bulgarian Independent Trade Union Confederation added that these trends manifest themselves in many countries of Eastern European on the level of attacks on worker’s rights in law and practice. Cross-border value chains require employee representations to reverse these trend by building and strengthening international solidarity.

All speakers stressed that there is no way to achieve conclusive and decisive victory in the fight against deregulation. Rather, it is a persistent conflict in which the results achieved must be protected and progressively built upon. Although the EU Commission adopted the European Pillar of Social Rights in 2017 and sent an important signal, it is uncertain whether the new Commission, which will be set up following the European elections in May 2019, will be able to continue along this path if the results of the election would strengthen of nationalist political groups as presumed.

The near future will offer trade union representatives additional opportunities to hold consultations on the upcoming ILO International Labor Conference and coordinate national and international cooperation.

Click here to see the summary video of the event.


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