Headlines 1999

Press communiqué

No European Defence without basic rights for the military personnel


The trade unions of the personnel of Defence within Eurofedop have discussed the issues that concern their sector, at their annual meeting on 24th June 1999 in Luxemburg.

They all agree that the political will, expressed by a number of European countries to come to European armed forces, should be encouraged.

However, before it will be possible to achieve such European armed forces, that function well, they demand that the personnel of Defence of England, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal be granted the fundamental right to association and freedom of negotiation on their working conditions and circumstances, as these are customary in a number of Northern European countries.

Anno 1999, the trade unions consider it unacceptable that military personnel would be sent out on operations for the control of crises, in order to restore democratic rights, when they themselves, they have to lack these rights.

With a view to establishing a more integrated European peace and security policy, the defence unions of Eurofedop wish to phrase a critical remark with the determination of real defence budgets for the realization of such European armed forces.

The trade unions of the personnel of Defence within Eurofedop also express great concern over the social position of the personnel of Defence with the execution of present reorganization and reduction processes in a large number of European countries.

As regards jobs available, the trade unions are of the opinion that forced dismissal is completely unacceptable and plead for alternative employment programmes.

The national parliaments in the European Union have to take their responsibility in this respect.

Within the trade council Defence of Eurofedop, trade unions are affiliated, representing military and civilian personnel from Belgium, Netherlands, Austria, Spain, Denmark, France, Malta.



Under the chairmanship of the "Standing Committee of the Hospitals of the European Union", a meeting took place of the HEALLO group in Brussels on 31/03/99.

After a presentation of the various organisations active at European level in the health sectors, consideration was given to the implications of the decision "Kohll and Decker". The representative of AIMS (Association Internationale de la Mutualité) gave explanations on this jurisdiction and pointed at further developments in the Free movement of goods and services in the health care sector. Mr K. Walsch, expert DG V, spoke of "Civil dialogue at the European level". He made the distinction between Political Dialogue, Social Dialogue, Civil Dialogue. He gave a description of the activities of the DG V and explained the use of traditional characters such as informal, ad hoc, frequent, mainly sectoral. But there is no civil dialogue article in the Amsterdam treaty. And it is difficult to develop general formalised structures (questions of representation, transparency, accountability). BVC spoke in the debate about the position of Eurofedop in relation to the Com 98 (322) Social Dialogue and the discussion on representativity. He also announced that E. Reyes Diez, chairwoman of the TC Health Services, will be speaker at the AGORA 5 in Sevilla and that Eurofedop will organise a conference on health sector problems on … in Madrid.


International Labour Office - Geneva

Sectoral Activities Programme

The tripartite meeting on Managing the Privatisation and Restructuring of Public Utilities will be held from 12-16 April 1999 at the International Labour Office.

Guy Rasneur, Infedop president, will speak during the opening plenary sitting.

Other participants are: Hugo Pucheira (CATE - Chile) and Percy Oyola Paloma (UTRADEC - Colombia) and Bert Van Caelenberg, Infedop secretary-general. Basing themselves on a 100 page basic document (English, French, Spanish, ISBN 92.2III449X), the ILO prepared this session.

Some 10 "points suggested for discussion" will be part of the preparatory meeting - organised by PSI - on 10 April. The Infedop president will be present at this meeting.

Conclusions are to be expected on 16 April, at 4 PM.

FIOST Congress

Blankenberge (Belgium), 3-5 May 1999

Michel Bovy, president of the International Federation of Trade Unions of Transport Workers (FIOST), was the chairman at the solemn opening.

A word of welcome was pronounced, on behalf of the Belgian organisation, by Luc Hamelinck, president of the CCOD/CCSP, who is also member of the Executive Committee of Eurofedop.

Willy Thys and F. Kigongi, respectively secretary general and president of the WCL, spoke about the role that is played by workers of the transport sector in society. The latter deplored that as the road infrastructure is missing in Africa, precisely this continent is obstructed in its development.

Koen Daemen, delegate of the ILO, spoke in his address about international norms, the duty to create employment and the advantages of social dialogue, organised by the ILO.

For the European Commission, the speaker was Dirk Van Vreckem, who dealt with the social policy, employment and the opening of the market in Europe. The training of the personnel is also a central point of interest to the Commission. That liberalisation in the transport sector will lead in term to new employment, was an element the speaker was convinced of, but the audience was not so sure about.

David Cockroft, secretary general of the ITF (International Transport Federation), brought a political message that can be of extremely great importance for the further existence of FIOST. The speaker made it very clear : ITF has never been a 100% Socialist organisation and will also not be the servant of the Social-Democratic parties in the world. The fall of the Iron Curtain has brought about changes and in view of the "open door policy" of the ITF, he does not see why it is necessary to keep in place a separate small organisation. Everybody is welcome, also from Europe. The European trade unions of FIOST can become members and thus be part of the European Transport Committee. This short but therefore not less important speech of the young, dynamic secretary general of the ITF will certainly have inspired the Board of FIOST to think about the future at their Congress.

That this speech was pronounced in the presence of Willy Thys and F. Kigongi, was also a political message to the WCL. Do they wish to continue working with a trade action at the WCL ?

In his closing speech, Michel Bovy paid tribute to the former board members of FIOST, who were present in great numbers. He thanked all speakers and had a special word for the ITF secretary. He admitted that Mr Cockroft had made publicity, in a cunning way, for the ITF, but added that that is also the job he is paid for by his organisation. In the week to come, the congress will further reflect on the consequences of liberalisation for transport and public transport. For Eurofedop/Infedop, president Guy Rasneur and secretary general Bert Van Caelenberg were present.


POA - congress

(Sixtieth anniversary)


Southport (UK)

From 24 - 28 May 1999 the yearly POA (Prison Officers' Association) congress took place in Southport (UK).

This year the POA also celebrated its sixtieth anniversary. Over 400 participants talked about the future of their organisation, problems were tackled head on.

The representatives of new POA members from the privatised prisons in the United Kingdom got a hearty welcome.

On Friday Bert Van Caelenberg congratulated them on behalf of Eurofedop. He talked about the part the POA has to play within Eurofedop: they have one member in the executive committee and another POA representative is president of the trade council justice. With his statement about the loss of democratic influence of politics to the advantage of media and multinationals, Bert Van Caelenberg stole Lord Hoyle of Warrington's thunder. The latter, member of the House of Lords, represented the political side.

David Evans and Marc Heally were re-elected secretary-general and president respectively.

Bert Van Caelenberg


Forum for the cooperation of trade unions (SZEF)


Budapest (Hungary)

The SZEF has held its second congress in Budapest (Hungary).

Dr. Endre Szabo, the president, was assisted at this congress by Judit Gulyas (EDDSZ) and Peter Michalco (KSESE) as vice-presidents.

In his opening speech on Saturday 29 May, Endre Szabo spoke of the past period. The loyalty towards the previous government, that he is accused of, is not correct, he declared. What has guided him, has not been loyalty, but his awareness of the reality and his sense of responsibility. He pleaded for a strategy for the future, which will be rewarding in the long term and will be based on the elaboration of case-by-case alternatives. He pleaded for taking over the good examples of other countries. After having explained a whole action programme, he briefly mentioned the idea of creating one unitary trade union, similar to the ÖTV in Germany.

As guest speakers, Peter Coltrick (ETUC) and Gunther Weniger (PSI) addressed the congress.

For Eurofedop, Bert Van Caelenberg was the speaker, praising the SZEF for the democratic way in which it practises trade union work. The European Charter for the Public Service, which Eurofedop propagated five years ago, can be helpful in this. Negotiations and deliberations remain crucial, and the government should negotiate with the EDDSZ on a Collective Bargaining Agreement for the health services. He pleaded for peaceful solutions to conflicts. By referring several times to the importance of trade union pluralism and addressing himself to the foreign colleagues of the ETUC, the ÖTV and the ILO, he indicated that the deliberation system as it exists in the International Labour Office, could be considered as a model.

Eurofedop was also represented by Fritz Neugebauer, president of the GÖD and member of the Executive Committee of Eurofedop.



"Wandel braucht Gewerkschaft,Gewerkschaft hat Zukunft"

With this central theme, the 14th congress of the "Gewerkschaft der Post- und Fernmeldebediensteten" of Austria took place from 14 to 18 June last in Vienna.

This general congress was preceded on 14-15 June by the groups sessions (Fraktion Sozialdemokratischer Gewerkschaft and Fraktion Christlicher Gewerkschaft).

On Tuesday 15/06, Bert Van Caelenberg spoke for Eurofedop/Infedop at the Fraktion Christlicher Gewerkschaft.

He gave information about European Social Dialogue and the place occupied in this by the Christian-Democratic trade unions. He welcomed the agreement with Communications International and hoped for a good cooperation in the joint committees.

Other guest speakers from Croatia, Slovakia, Albania, Switzerland, Germany, France, all members of Eurofedop, praised the initiatives of F. Hnatusko and W. Russ, resigning chairman of the trade council PTT.

This congress was also the congress at which F. Hnatusko said goodbye as president of the FCG. He admitted not always having found the time for our sessions. On the other hand, we thank our presence with PTT trade unions in Croatia, Slovakia, Albania, to his basic working.

Our contacts with Manfred WIEDNER, new president of the FCG, will be pursued shortly, more in particular at the trade council PTT which will take place on 28-30/10/99 in Switzerland.



Meeting with the Czech organization KOK


Vienna (Austria)

Monday 31 May 1999, a meeting took place in Vienna (Austria), between the Christian Trade Union Coalition (KOK) of the Czech Republic and the treasurer and secretary general of Eurofedop, respectively Gerhard Böhm and Bert Van Caelenberg.

KOK was represented, at Eurofedop's liaison office for Central and Eastern Europe, by Alois Anton and Pavel Matusec, respectively the president and the secretary. They were informed of the activities of our organization and where our priorities lie as a European trade union.

Alois Anton gave information about the trade union situation in his country, the independence of his organization and the problems they know to have real trade union pluralism installed in their country.

Eurofedop regretted that the situation is still too much that KOK officials who wish to follow the European developments, have to do this on their own initiative, and that the organization is lacking a sufficient number of delegates who can be permanently involved in activities at sectoral level. Eurofedop took on the commitment of promoting especially the action in the sector of Local Authorities in the weeks to come, in deliberation with the chairman of the Trade Council Local and Regional Authorities, Alfred Schöls. Moreover, Eurofedop will transmit all useful information regarding the "Social Charter", published by the Council of Europe, and will look for support with the Christian-Democratic Group in the Council of Europe and the European Parliament, to ask attention for the integral application of this Charter in Czechia.




Session GÖD/FCG


Sankt-Pölten (Austria)

On Tuesday 1 June 1999, an extended session of the GÖD/FCG took place in Sankt-Pölten.

This session, presided by Alfred Schöls, also chairman of the Eurofedop Trade Council Local and Regional Authorities, was held to discuss matters in relation to Europe. Thus one of the speakers at this session was Achnes Scherüber, European Parliament Member for the ÖVP.

A number of questions were asked from the meeting room, after which Bert Van Caelenberg, secretary general of Eurofedop, dealt with the subject of Social Dialogue in Europe. He underlined that European elections are important for the democratic decision-making, also with regard to social matters. In his speech, he gave an example in practice from the PTT sector, and illustrated how an optimum cooperation can function between politics and the trade unions.

In the margin of this session, a visit was performed to the building where the Administration of Lower Austria has its office. Mag. Johanna Miklleitner, ÖVP Landesgeschäftsführerin, explained the link between initiatives for the young, women and the administration.

Top tennis player, Barbara Polisch, reported of the efforts made by the authorities, to give her the opportunity of combining her studies with a professional sports career.




VIth Statutory Congress SATSE


Toledo (Spain)

This congress was also held to remind of 20 years of struggle and action, which was illustrated in a video recording.

At the solemn opening session on Wednesday 2 June 1999, Bert Van Caelenberg addressed the congress where more than 450 participants had gathered from the whole of Spain. He underlined the good cooperation and praised the SATSE for its positive attitude at the last congress of Eurofedop in Luxemburg. He stressed that to work at a more positive image for the health care workers in Europe, remains an important task. The European Conference on Health Services, which we will organize from 14 to 17 October in Madrid, will already be an opportunity to cooperate together on this.

Victor Aznar Marcen, the secretary general until this congress and inspiring force behind the organization, was elected president. As new secretary general, José Alfonso Marcos from Andalusia was unanimously voted. For European and International Affairs, Esther Reyes Diez (chairwoman of the Trade Council Health Services of Eurofedop) remains responsible.

The action points remuneration, training, diploma revalorization, integral care, together with the rejection of privatization plans, have given the organization more than a combative position in Spain. In their fight, they place "professionalization" against "privatization". After 12 years of growth and expansion, of the increase of their number of members and property, now comes a period for them, of consolidation, and deepening.

More information on SATSE and its congress can be found on the website : http://www.satse.es.


Seminar Health Services,

14-16 October 1999, Madrid, Spain

On 14, 15 and 16 October 1999, in cooperation with EZA and the European Community, a seminar is taking place in Madrid: ""Health Services in Europe", a Eurofedop contribution to European Social Dialogue".

The following items were put on the agenda by Eurofedop's members:

- Financing the Health System

- Forms of Employment and Flexibility

- Social Dialogue and Health Policy

- Consequences of Privatisation in this Sector

If you are interested, or if you would like to talk about one of these items, let us know!

The seminar will be prepared during the session of the trade union health services on 21 June 1999.