50 years existence FCG
50 years Christian Trade Unionism in Austria
Vienna (Austria), 14.10.2001
October 1951. At the second postwar congress of the General Austrian Trade Union (ÖGB), Mr Erwin Altenburger, vice-president of the ÖGB, announced the creation of the FCG (Christian Group).
Fifty years later, on Sunday 14 October 2001, the fifty years existence was celebrated in Vienna. In the presence of the great number of members who had come to be present on this occasion, as well as foreign guests, an ecumenical service was held. Then speeches were pronounced by the ÖGB President, Firtz Verzetnitsch, and todays President, Fritz Neugebauer.
Special appreciation was given to the pioneers of the movement, who were glad to give once more a survey, especially for the younger people in the meeting room. Pioneers such as Dr. Robert Lichal and Rudolf Sommer were also co-founders of Eurofedop in 1966 in Vienna. Eurofedop congratulated the FCG through secretary general Bert Van Caelenberg and subscribed to the FCG objectives : priority to man, solidarity as life principle, subsidiarity as regulation principle, national and worldwide prosperity through human co-operation.
In the next fifty years, we will be required to give our attention to the realisation of the new values and justice that are so often ignored in our modern society.
Bert Van Caelenberg
secretary general Eurofedop
10th October 2001
On the invitation of the Commission, an information session took place for the social partners that are active at sectorial level. The discussion concentrated on three subjects.
1. Consultation by the Commissions services on the financial participation of workers - SEC(2001)1308 of 26/07/2001. A first consultation round lasts until 30/10. This subject has a direct impact on sectors such as Telecom and Post. Eurofedop will raise this subject to the joint committee.
2. Health and Safety in the workplace : new developments and perspectives. In this respect, a basic document is not yet available. The Commission appreciated the remarks that were made by the participants. On behalf of Eurofedop, we asked to give more attention to Stress and other psychological disorders caused by the new working circumstances (e.g. in prisons, hospitals, Defence).
3. Other information points.
- The Commission gave information on the strategy and activities at social level in the candidate member states. Bert Van Caelenberg announced the seminar that will be organised by Eurofedop-SLOVES-GÖD/FCG on 21-22/11 in Bratislava and he invited an expert of the Commission to this session.
- In co-operation with the ILO-Geneva, the Commission will organise a conference for the candidate member states on 30/11 and 01/12. As first target group one will focus on the market sectors.
This session consisted, on the side of the Commission, of the responsible officers at sectorial level. On the side of Eurofedop, it was also an occasion to find out what the developments are in the sectors of Post, Telecom, the Public Service, through informal contacts.
SOCIAL DIALOGUE IN THE PUBLIC SERVICE
State of affairs
Eurofedop is present in the committees of sector dialogue for Post and Telecom. In this respect, the remark has to be made that its representativeness is guaranteed through an agreement with UNI-EUROPA.
For the other public services, no committees of sectoral dialogue exist so far.
Indeed, we must be aware that the public services in question (federal, regional or related) represent activity fields whereby the national political authorities and their privileges are directly concerned.
So, it is necessary to adopt in this respect a pragmatic and realistic trade union attitude. An attitude orientated towards the introduction of informal structures of social dialogue where nevertheless common problems can be discussed and conclusions can be drawn - with sufficient obligation for the different national states with regard to their civil service.
It is the attitude adopted by Eurofedop as well as, besides, the EPSC (ETUC) and more recently the branch "public services" of the CESI.
The favourable evolution with regard to "social dialogue", as far as the principle of it itself is concerned, causes nevertheless a lot of disturbance with the trade union organisations that wish to participate in it. In this respect, we have to refer to the attitude of the EPSC (ETUC) that claims to be the only organisation that is authorised to represent the whole of the personnel of the public service, whatever the sector of activities may be.
By adopting this attitude, its calls into question the representativeness criteria that have been elaborated by the Commission (see box).
Until today, after various attempts of reconciliation, however with no success, EUROFEDOP is of the opinion that the pluralism as observed by the EPSC, is only pluralism to "make believe".
- Lisbon, 11.05.2000, Secretaries of State, Portuguese Presidency,
- Strasbourg, 08.11.2000, Directors General, French Presidency,
- Brussels, 14.11.2000, Troika, French Presidency,
- Brussels, 27.04.2001, Troika, Swedish Presidency,
- Bruges, 28.11.2001, Troika, Belgian Presidency, (see box)
give us sufficient reason to believe that the line that is followed by the Directors General (in agreement with the different Ministers), is that of trade union pluralism.
From this, it arises that next contacts will have to take place in the presence of all trade union partners EPSC, EUROFEDOP and CESI (USSP), this is also the vision of the Spanish Presidency.
Standpoint of the board of EUROFEDOP
The line of conduct that has been followed until now, is confirmed; however, it does not exclude that with regard to some items that are put on the agenda of social dialogue, contacts will take place with the EPSC or the ETUC, so that a collaboration strategy can be elaborated.
Foundation of the representativeness: see the Commission (Com/1998/322 final) with regard to the institution of committees of sectoral dialogue.
The committees of sectoral dialogue are installed in sectors where the social partners make a joint request to participate in a social dialogue at European level, whereby it is also determined that these organisations, that represent the employers and the workers, have to fulfil the following criteria:
1) they must belong to specific sectors or categories and be organised at European level;
2) they must be composed of organisations that are recognised themselves as being fully authorised to participate in the structures of social partnership in the Member States; they must have the capacity of concluding agreements through negotiations and be representative in more Member States;
3) they must have adequate structures that allow them to participate in an effective way in the consultation process.
Bert Van Caelenberg
Europe through, for and with all the citizens
The Belgian Presidency is a new chance to reinforce the social dimension of Europe and underline the importance and the good functioning of the European public services.
That is why we plead for a Declaration of Laken that would be sufficiently ambitious with regard to the Charter on Fundamental Rights. This Charter should become enforceable and preferably be incorporated in the European basic texts.
That is why we plead for a radical elimination of all forms of poverty and social exclusion e.g. through the establishment of a poverty norm.
That is why we insist on a larger fiscal and social harmonisation. The differences in regulations between the member states at social and fiscal level are indeed a factor of competition that becomes more and more unacceptable.
That is why we plead for a careful execution of liberalisation in the postal sector, with guarantees of employment and the high quality of services for everyone.
That is why we ask the Commission to propose a framework guideline to determine the Communitys basic principles with regard to services of general interest.
That is why we insist towards the Commission that it would continue developing the contents of the concept of universal service for the services of general interest, whereby account is taken of the developments with regard to technologies and the needs of the consumer.
That is why we ask the Commission to more closely describe, following the European Council of Nice, "the linking between the way of financing services of general economic interest and the application of the rules concerning support measures taken by the public authorities".
That is why we ask that a controlled opening of the market to services of general interest would be accompanied by necessary guarantees with regard to the quality of services and the demands for security and environmental protection.
This is but a selection from our concerns to make Europe more social and offer a maximum service to the European citizens. If the Belgian Presidency chooses to go in the right direction in these files, no doubt there will be reason for optimism and satisfaction. Because then the presidency will have made clear that the European Union has more and more become a European Union of, for and through the people.