Social Platform “Social values and Democracy”
Brussels, 05-06.12.2006

The Social Platform groups social NGO’s and European Federations. Its members represent thousands of organisations, associations and other voluntary groups at local, regional, national and European level; they thus represent the interests of a wide range of civil society.
The Social Platform organised a two-day conference on the European Social Model. During this conference, the key question was if we are moving forwards or backwards, in terms of developing a Europe of social values? The forum at the first plenary session consisted of Pierre Jonckheer (MEP), Anne-Sophie Parent (President Social Platform), Tuula Haatainen (Finnish Min. of Social affairs and health) and Nikolaus van der Pas (Director General DG EMPL) among others. Mr. van der Pas stressed that although stakeholders can of course be critical, they have to realize that there exists a certain political reality in which the EU and its member states are operating. This makes the context in which the EU creates and executes policies very difficult. In addition to this, the EU can only do what the European Parliament and the Council (the member states) allow it to do. MEP Pierre Jonckheer agreed on this by saying that the policies carried out at EU level are all adopted and guaranteed by the European Parliament and the Council. The compromises are usually the result of a very long political process. The further enlargement of the Union will make this even more complex. The political divides within the Union will increase.

From the audience different opinions could be heard. One remark was that the Commission fails in accomplishing its role as ‘guardian of the Treaties’ and that the legislation it proposes is not social and instead tends to weaken the social security in Europe. Some participants answered the question posed at the start of the plenary session by stating that: we are indeed moving backwards if it comes to social values in EU politics…
The second day of the conference was divided into several workshops focusing on specific issues such as demography, migration, and service provision. At a workshop entitled ‘The political role of social services providers in defining and negotiating social values’, Ms. Thea Meinema (ICSW) held an interesting presentation on ‘Social services of general interest’ in the Netherlands. This country sees more and more services provided by the private sector. According to Ms. Meinema, the market principles make quality subordinate to the budget. There is a clear role for the social services providers to actively participate in the debate on social politics.

 

EZA Startseminar “The Main points of the European Social Dialogue 2007”
Königswinter, 30.11- 01.12 .2006


The European Centre for Workers’ Questions (EZA) held its annual Startseminar, this time in its home town Königswinter. The Startseminar is meant to present the projects of the following year, and to gather together all the participating members of EZA. After a two day seminar EZA held its General Meeting which meant a farewell for departing President Leo Pauwels, and a welcome to the new President Raf Chanterie.
The seminar offered interesting presentations from different keyspeakers in the field of Social Europe. Several themes were being discussed such as education, the European Social Dialogue, mobility and flexicurity. The latter was dealt with by Dr. Klaus Kellersmann, advisor to the EPP-ED group in the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs in the European Parliament. Flexicurity is a ‘hot’ issue in Europe today and it refers to the level of flexibility that needs to be increased whilst at the same time keeping the level of social security acceptable. Dr. Klaus Kellersmann participated in a workshop on this issue afterwards and noticed that most participants were merely focused on the social security, rather than the flexibily issue. He calles for speaking with one voice; EZA members should draw one statement instead of expressing several different views to the European Commission.

As regards mobility, an issue that Eurofedop is dealing with a lot at the moment, Silviu Traian Ispas, Director of IFES in Romania, gave a clear overview of the emigration trends in Romania. Particularly in the age group of 26-40 many people are leaving the country to work elsewhere.

We know that they leave for mainly economic reasons (i.e. higher salaries). Eurofedop has recently discussed the issue of migration of professionals (health care sector) with MEPs and European Commission delegates and in currently preparing a follow up. It is obvious that the long-awaited freedom of movement principle now clashes with a new reality; a brain drain from some of the new member states into the EU15.
After the presentations the different projects were presented. Eurofedop also participates within the structure of EZA which is absolutely vital in order to organise new seminars and conferences at which we can bring together experts and professionals from all over Europe to discuss these important matters.

The introduction of such a social dialogue will not be for tomorrow and the question of the representation of the Member States within the interprofessional social dialogue remains problematic. In addition to this, there remain important differences between the practices of Member States and some are very reluctant to engage in any formal agreements. Eurofedop has, however, adopted a pragmatic and realistic trade union attitude that is orientated towards the improvement of these informal structures of social dialogue. Finally, he emphasised that Eurofedop intends to make the most of the opportunities and will be a constructive partner.

For more information on the activities of EZA please visit their website: www.eza.org.

A good practice framework for e-Government
Brussels, 23.11.2006

In September 2006, Eurofedop attended an e-government meeting in Helsinki. E-government can hugely affect the functioning of public service employees. Technological developments require training for the employees and they have to adjust to the changing working situation. It is therefore important that Eurofedop closely follows the developments in this area.
Agnès Bradier, Deputy Head of the e-Government Unit, DG Information Society and Media of the European Commission opened the 5th Good Practice Framework meeting in Brussels on 23 November. The Good Practice framework (www.egov-goodpractice.org) is a database where successful e-government cases can be viewed and entered. Furthermore the site features useful links, publications, events information and relevant documents.

During the meeting case studies from Scotland and Spain were presented and the meeting was concluded with a discussion.
The benefits of the Good Practice Framework were highlighted; it is a tool to stay updated on e-Government good practices throughout Europe and to assess the strength and weakness of your own case.
Eurofedop is up-to-date on the situation of e-government in Europe. It pays close attention to the developments in regions and ministries and how those affect the employees.

 



Parliament adopts final version of services directive
Brussels, 15.11.2006

On 15 November, the European Parliament voted in favour of the services directive. Commissioner Mc. Creevy called this day a milestone in the history of the European Parliament. Not only is this directive a controversial one, but the legislative process has shown the leading role the European Parliament played in this matter.
The vote that took place on 15 November marked the end of a three-year debate on the free movement of services in Europe. The Parliament adopted the version of last spring, after the Council had reached political agreement. The version adopted by the Parliament, watered down the initial proposal made by the Commission (Bolkestein). The modifications that the directive has undergone since 2003 are a success and Eurofedop considers the current version an improved version. This does not mean, however, that concerns are unnessecary. Eurofedop, together with other social partners, will remain very vigilant about the sensitive areas in the directive.

It is now important to closely follow the developments in the remaining areas that were excluded from the scope of this services directive. Right now, the European Commission discusses a Europen framework for health care services. A consultation process is taking place at the moment, in which Eurofedop is participating as well. For such typically ‘national’ policy areas, it will be very difficult to reach agreement on a framework for the entire Union. It is a good thing that these services were not incorporated into the current services directive, Eurofedop is content with that result. However, the future is still uncertain; we have to be careful that through the backdoor, the reforms of the remaining services (of general interest) do not go even further than the initial proposals of the ‘Bolkestein directive’.

Follow the developments:
http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/services/index_en.htm

Eurofedop discusses 'tolerance on the workfloor'
08-09.09.2006, Jurmala (Latvia)

Secretary General Bert Van Caelenberg spoke at a conference in Latvia which was entitled 'Tolerant approach, tolerant organization, tolerant people: practical tolerance'. This conference was organised by the rector of the Latvian Christian Academy, SkaidrÄ«te GÅ«tmane, and Secretary General of the European Middle Field organisation (EUROMF), Bruno Machiels. After Prof. anis Vejš had explained the concept of tolerance in the context of the employers-employees relations, Bert Van Caelenberg stressed the importance of the social dialogue. In his speech he stated that there is no 'European tolerance in workers' relations' without a social dialogue.

Bruno Machiels

The introduction of such a social dialogue will not be for tomorrow and the question of the representation of the Member States within the interprofessional social dialogue remains problematic. In addition to this, there remain important differences between the practices of Member States and some are very reluctant to engage in any formal agreements. Eurofedop has, however, adopted a pragmatic and realistic trade union attitude that is orientated towards the improvement of these informal structures of social dialogue. Finally, he emphasised that Eurofedop intends to make the most of the opportunities and will be a constructive partner.

With this conference, EUROMF Secretary General Bruno Machiels has launched a next step in the training and educating of middle-field and trade union organisations in Latvia. It was organised in the framework of seminars that were co-financed by the EU. Finally, a joint evaluation seminar will take place in one of the Baltic States in 2007.

The conference dealt with 'Practical Tolerance' and contained speakers from Europe and the United States. A noteworthy contribution came from Mrs. Karina Petersone, Latvian Minister for Social Integration. She mentioned the setting up of an office and a website especially for questions related to tolerance at the workplace. Additionally, she brought up the issue of tolerance with regard to the minorities in her country, of which the Russian is of course the most important one. This problem has been addressed at the highest level, as Mrs. Petersone talks about it with her Russian colleagues.


Links
http://www.eza.org
http://www.euromf.org
http://www.kra.lv/english.htm

The impact of e-Government in Europe; what about the employees?
13.09.2006, Helsinki (Finland)

EUROFEDOP attended a conference on e-Government which primarily focused on measuring the impact of e-Government in Europe so far. The objective of the event, hosted by the Finnish Presidency of the EU in collaboration with SAP and Capgemini, was to track the progress of the e-Gov Action Plan (2006-2010) with the motto 'partnership with Industry'. The latter set the tone of the entire conference on which the impact on the employees, the actual providers of the services, was hardly mentioned.

The e-Government action plan is part of the EU's goals to achieve 'significant reductions in administrative burdens' by 2010. Effective and efficient e-Government was one of the five topics defined in the Ministerial e-Government Conference held in Manchester last year (also attended by Eurofedop). It seeks to use IT to improve the consumers' experience of public services as well as reducing costs (particularly to business) of dealing with governments and improving the transparancy of governments. In 2005, during a personal conversation with Viviane Reding, former EU Commissioner for Information Society, Bert Van Caelenberg handed over the position of Eurofedop with regard to e-Government. At that time, it was stressed that e-Government has a major impact on public service employees, and that this aspect was not highlighted sufficiently in the EU proposals. Ms. Reding actually mentioned the role of the workers during her speech in 2005, a comment that was naturally warmly welcomed by Eurofedop.

e-Government has a great influence on the structure and the working method within the public administration. It could not only lead to less work, but also to more work and in any case to other work. This requires a lot of adaptability from the employees' side, who are expected to act more quickly, more creatively and more efficiently with the possibilities that e-Government offers. However, they also face a whole range of new technologies and renewed software and hardware they have to adapt to. New forms of work often require other, more highly skilled workers; social dialogue is hereby the most suitable platform for an open discussion. Eurofedop acknowledges and is aware of the chances that there are in this field, however, it questions who will profit most from these developments (the industry?).

The conference in Helsinki was opened by the Finnish Minister of Finance, Ulla-Maj Wideroos, and contained quite a few key speakers in the field of e-Government. As mentioned before, the focus was on how to measure the impact of e-Government in Europe to make sure that the money we spend and have spent so far (11.9 bn EURO in 2005 in EU25) is spent in the right way. Per Blixt, Head of the e-Government unit in DG Information Society and Media of the European Commission, is in charge of the e-Government Action Plan. He explained the roadmap 2006-2010 and mentioned several barriers occurring when implementing e-Government (lack of leadership, digital divides, poor techincal design, poor coordination, among other things). Other key speakers were Frans de Brune, Director ICT for Citizens and Businesses of the Commission's DG Information Society directorate H (responsible for e-Health, e-Government and e-Inclusion), Yih-Jeou Wang from the e-Government Project of the OECD and Patrick Wauters, expert in public administration and e-Government and responsible for the Capgemini study on e-Government conducted for DG Information Society.

Albeit an impressive list of speakers and an interesting conference, Eurofedop was disappointed not to hear any concrete impact assessments, or action plans for the employees who, in the end, are the ones who actually provide the services. It is therefore highly important to continue the negotiations and to continue expressing our views and positions. As agreed on the Executive Board meeting in February this year, the issue of e-Government should be put on the agenda of every Trade Council meeting, in order to collect positions from all sectors which refer to the role of the workers in the implementation and development of e-Government. We cannot deny that e-Government is the future, however, we have to make sure that it is implemented in a 'worker-friendly' manner and that the voice of the worker, or the Trade Unions, will always be heard.

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For more information please visit:
I2010 : http://europa.eu.int/information_society/eeurope/i2010/index_en.htm
e-Government Good Practice Framework: http://www.egov-goodpractice.org/index.php?

View our members' sites!

The websites of all EUROFEDOP's members are to be found through this site. From the home page visit the About Us menu and Board and you will find our members, their representatives and their links.
Please note that Transfair has recently renewed its entire website
Follow this link to view the websites: about us > board.

Smaller, thinner, less ... in short : cut down the government

In the Netherlands, the three big parties have presented their electoral programme. What all parties have in common, is that they are of the view that the government has to be seriously cut down. The 'Partij van de Arbeid' (PvdA, 'Party of Labour'), that has always put great faith in an extended public service apparatus, is also not convinced anymore of the necessity of a large public service apparatus, so is reported by papers in the Netherlands. The PvdA is for a 'government that questions itself' and intends to firmly fight 'paralysing bureaucracy'. According to the PvdA, a reversal from policy to execution is required and this has to go together with a reduction of the number of public service employees. It also criticises the number of administrative layers in the Netherlands and indicates as solution to reduce them to only two, this to avoid also that administrators would be too much involved in mutual contacts, and to promote that administrators would be more recognisable.

According to the PvdA, the government should manage with 2.2 billion euro less and that seems simple : 'For each new rule that the government makes, an old one should be cancelled. The Christian Democratic Party (CDA), that besides severely criticises the plans of the PvdA, also spends some paragraphs on cutting down the government. Moreover, it proposes to reintroduce the 40 hours working week (also for civil servants), this to counter the ageing problem, that manifests itself all over Europe, and keep salary costs within acceptable limits. This party too aims for less administrative layers, less management layers within the departments and a smaller and more combative government.

The electoral programme states that the number of personnel in the public administrations should be strongly reduced. The parties have ambitious plans about how to use the money they hope to save on the government. But our colleagues of the CNV Publieke Zaak are irritated at the positions taken by the parties and find the electoral programmes of these parties very disquieting. It is not so that less civil servants lead automatically to less rules and the CNV keeps underlining that politics themselves make up the rules and not the civil service apparatus. So, if there have to be less rules, this will be entirely up to politics themselves. 'We will not cooperate in further cutting down the public service apparatus, says Alfred Lohman of the CNV Publieke Zaak. According to him, the parties do not give clear indication of how the size of public authorities should be considerably reduced. The CNV says it would very much like to engage in discussion with the various political parties and demands clarity over which tasks and functions for example should be cancelled. Eurofedop will follow with much attention the developments in the Netherlands until the next elections (22 November 2006).
For more information:
http://www.cnvpubliekezaak.nl/
http://www.cda.nl/documenten/VKP.pdf#search=%22CDA%20verkiezingsprogramma%22 (CDA)
http://www.pvda.nl/download.do/id/320053807/cd/true/ (PvdA)

Maintain older workers in employment
Commission publishes a study on ageing and employment

As ageing remains one of the hot issues in Europe, the Commission has published a study on 'ageing and employment'. In this study, the good practices on increasing job opportunities and maintaining older workers in employment are identified. The study draws on the experience of eleven EU countries (FR, DE, IT, UK, CZ, FI, HU, LT, NL, PL, PT) and acknowledges that extending the working life is one of the key elements of European economic and employment strategies. The good practice approach at institutional and organisational level is needed in order to find a way of raising the employment rate, without lowering the living standards or endangering the attempts to improve work and life balance. The study contains 41 organisational case studies, and an analysis of the strenghts and weaknesses of the national institutional framework in wich organisations work together with selected good practice examples of social partners, NGO or regional policy-makers' initiatives. The issues discussed in the study are productivity, working conditions, lifelong learning, HRM and the role of the social partners. Conerning the latter, the study concludes that the rol of trade unions in particular is quite ambiguous.

On the one hand trade unions might be opposing the lengthening of working life at a national level, while simultaneously bargaining on the best way to enhance the 'work ability' of older employees at work place level. In addition to this, the Commission study argues that trade unions have traditionally been pursuing two contradicting strategies namely that of following a senior-based approach to bargaining over wage structures and redundancy rules in order to protect older workers and, secondly, encouraging the early exit of older workers from the labour market, also when unemployment was high (especially for young people). Another tension that can be found among the trade unions is that they are trying to address the interests of the old members (i.e. older workers) while also trying to attract potential new members (i.e. younger workers). This makes it clear, according to the Commission, that membership also determines the trade unions' strategies. The same ambivalent role can be assigned to the employers, and the State, in their search for a balance between short-term and long-term strategies.
To read the full report (EN) please visit:
http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/news/2006/sept/ageingreport_en.pdf
For a summary of the report please visit:
DE: http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/news/2006/sept/ageingreportsumm_de.pdf
FR: http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/news/2006/sept/ageingreportsumm_fr.pdf
EN: http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/news/2006/sept/ageingreportsumm_en.pdf

Parliament plans 2nd reading services directive

As we all know, the dossier on the liberalisation of services is far from closed. The Members of European Parliament returned from their summer holidays last week and announced that the services directive will be high on their agenda again. The directive has already proven to be controversial and many fear it could undermine the European Social Model. At Eurofedop's seminar in Vienna last May, the directive has also been subject of discussion and MEP Othmar Karas pointed out why this directive could be seen as the EU's 'visiting card'.

After an EP vote earlier this year, the Commission revised its proposal and it is this revised legislation that the Council approved in July. Since ministers reached an agreement on the new draft, it is possible that the services directive may be tied up by the end of the year. Eurofedop is also still anxious to observe what will happen to the services that were (due to some structural lobbying) excluded from the scope of the directive and who were promised their own framework, such as healthcare. Belgian Minister of Social Affairs and Health, Rudy Demotte has written a non-paper on this very issue. He argues in favour of a sectoral directive on healthcare. Mr Demotte states that a specific directive would ensure legal certainty and that it should cover all healthcare services. The non paper is said to be supported by France, the UK, Germany, Luxemburg, Spain, Portugal and Sweden. Any further developments on this issue will be directly forwarded to our Trade Council health care.

The Finns to take on health care issues

The Finns, who took over the EU presidency in July, come forward with a plan called 'Health in all policies' where it highlights ways in which population health can be improved through coherent action in sectors other than the health sector. This should present opportunities of how to tie health issues into current policies.
The presidency particularly plans to target policies on active ageing and health in the workplace. In addition to this, it plans to come forward with a resolution on the Working Time Directive. It goes without saying that we will closely follow the developments regarding this directive, as it could have major impacts on our members.

Eurofedop was present at press conference with Commissioner Spidla on workers' mobility
18.07.2006, Brussels (Belgium)

In 2005, the European Commission designated the year 2006 as the year of the workers' mobility. It aimed at raising awareness of, and making European Citizens understand the benefits of working abroad. 2006 is the first year which combines mobility and the issue of workers. EU Commissioner Vladimir Spidla presented the half-way assessment of this European Year of Workers' Mobility today in the Berlaymont building in Brussels.


EU Commissioner Vladimir Spidla

Commissioner Spidla briefly pointed out the results that have been visible so far. He stated that a lot of progress has been made and the situation has improved, which creates better chances to stand the consequences of globalisation. Two months after the launch of the Year of workers' mobility, the number of consultations on the EURES platform (which is the European Job Mobility Portal) almost doubled from 50,000 to over 90,000.

When speaking of geographic mobility, people seem to go abroad for short periods, and around 2% of EU citizens are living abroad. If we continue looking at percentages, Belgium has the highest rate (1.7%) of mobility of its workers, who are usually employed in its neighbouring countries. The mobility rate between member states is quite weak and has only increased the past few years. Inevitably, there still exist many obstacles with regard to workers'mobility, from practical matters (language, accommodation) to judicial and administrative issues (different retirement schemes, insurance and tax systems etc).

Finally, in mid-July a European Mobility Prize was launched for the individual, company or organisation that promoted mobility most significantly during the year. These prizes will be awarded at the end of the year.
Eurofedop attended the press conference because it is important to follow the developments with regard to the mobility issue in Europe. It goes without saying that Eurofedop focuses on the mobility of civil servants within the Union. We also look at the issue of migration which is visible in Europe for example within the health care sector. In November, we will organise an event on the issue of migration of health care workers

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For more information on the European Year of Workers' Mobility take a look at the following website: http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/workersmobility_2006/index.cfm

First Congress of the National Trade Union for the Police and Contractual Personnel (SNPPC)
13-14.07.2006, Sinaia (Romania).

After two seminars and bilateral contacts with various police trade unions of Eurofedop, the SNPPC held its first official congress. President Vieriu Constantin and Secretary General Paraschiv Toader took a historical step with the creation of this new organisation for the police in Romania. Only now, the politicians have understood that the discussion on the 'Acquis communautaire' (the conditions for affiliation to the EU) also places them before some responsibilities.


The SNPPC, member of Cartel Alfa and member of the EPU-Eurofedop, wants to further intensify its cooperation with the ACP (Netherlands), the ACV-Openbare Diensten (Belgium) and the GÖD/FCG (Austria).

Apart from the speeches, this Congress also reserved some time for the discussion with the congress participants.

Hermann Feiner, chairman of the EPU, gave some clarification on subjects such as the working time, occupational diseases and the employment of civilians at the police. The secretary general of Eurofedop, Bert Van Caelenberg, mentioned the little use of performing visits, from the start, to other trade unions, with large delegations. He pleaded for a close cooperation with Cartel Alfa with a view to the elaboration of a basic training for trade union delegates.

In collaboration with Eurofedop's representative for the public services in Romania and member of the Executive Committee, Ion Mihala, we wish to support such initiatives.

Finally, let us quote a statement from one of the leading police officers participating : 'It is more difficult to hold discussions, than to give orders'. After the holidays, it will be possible to further develop contacts, at the meetings in Luxembourg.

Bert Van Caelenberg
Secretary General Eurofedop


Expression of support
Eurofedop supports the strike action of the STE in Portugal on 6th July.

We wish to join our colleagues of the STE in their fight against any drastic reduction of the personnel. The interpretation and bad application of laws, the unitaleral change of working conditions, require actions from the trade union members.
Speaking about mobility in Europe and not allowing the consultation at local level, is the wrong road to take.

Bert Van Caelenberg
Secrétaire Général - Secretary General
Eurofedop


European Parliament votes in favour of needlestick report
06.07.2006, European Parliament, Brussels

On 6 July, the European Parliament adopted the report on 'needlestick injuries' with 465 votes in favour, 18 against and 13 abstentions. The Parliament states that the existing legislation on the protection of health care workers does not have the desired effect, and therefore should be amended. It believes that many of the injuries could be prevented by for example better training, and safer needles. It was the third time that the Parliament tried to vote on the report, in early June it was postponed and the second time it was sent back to the committee.

Let us hope that the European Commission responds urgently and above all positively to this resolution from the Parliament. After all, it is intended to protect all of Europe's health care workers!
The topic of injuries caused by contaminated needles was also discussed during our Trade Council meeting Health care services on 19 June 2006. The brochure can be found on this website.

Eurofedop was present at launch of paper on Women's health
Brussels, 27.06.2006

Being one of the main members of Health First Europe (HFE), Eurofedop attended the launch of the HFE paper on women's health. The working lunch entitled 'Women's health equals wealth' presented the paper which focuses mainly on women's involvement in health issues. The lunch was hosted by MEP Karin Jöns, member of the Committee on Employment and Social affairs.

MEP Karin Jöns

The lunch was moderated by Ms. Mel Read, current Chair of HFE and former MEP. The topics discussed were diseases typically occurring with women, or affecting women in different ways than men such as endometriosis, Chlamydia and obesity. The purpose of the paper and the lunch meeting was to address the diseases that would greatly benefit from gender specific research, of which the outcome could benefit women's health.

The EU plays an important role in this process. Citizens (patients) want more Europe, not less, in the field of Health care, Karin Jöns stated. Timothy Hall, DG Research, Head of Unit on health issues pointed out that within the European Commission, there is a clear understanding that there is a difference between male and female, also if it comes to health issues. Ana Xavier, DG Employment, pensions and health care explained that this year, the Member States will publish reports on their national strategies on health care. She underlined that applying the Open Method of Coordination in this field does not only mean the exchange of information and practices between Member States, but also within the Member States (between different levels, organisations etc).

Mel Read, Health First Europe

Eurofedop has close contacts within the major European health organisations, and is therefore able to regularly inform the members of the Trade Council Health care services on the latest European health issues. It is highly important to follow these developments, as they will affect the entire European health care sector, and thus the health care workers in Europe. For more information on Health First Europe and cooperation between Eurofedop and HFE, please visit the website: www.healthfirsteurope.org

Eurofedop asks actions from the European Union
'Migration health care workers prevents patient care'

During a well-attended session of Eurofedop's sector Health Services, chaired by Esther Reyes Diez (SATSE-Spain), in Luxemburg, the first item discussed was the draft document (2006/2015) on the protection of health care workers from infections caused by needlestick injuries. For Eurofedop, Chris Vanbillemont (ACV-Openbare Diensten) gave a survey of actions undertaken by Eurofedop with a view to urging the European Parliament to give this item the necessary attention.

Dr. Jorge Costa-David of the European Commission (DG Employment and Social Affairs, Unit D/4 - Health, Safety and Hygiene at Work) gave extensive information on the present evolution in this matter and indicated possible legal ways. Bert Van Caelenberg referred to today's discussion in the European Parliament and stressed how important this matter is for the new countries. He asked the Commission to aim already for results at this stage, through the organisation of projects for the exchange of best practices.

A second and not less important subject was the 'migration of workers in the health care sector'. Marcela Gatciová (SLOVES, Slovakia) gave information on the health care sector in Slovakia. The participants were shocked by learning that today, in Slovakia, it is only possible to operate on people during three days a week, this due to the enormous lack of staff in this country. After the enlargement of the EU in 2004, there was fear for the effects that could be caused by migration, both in the EU of the 15 and in the 'new' countries. The countries of the EU-15 were afraid of the enormous wave of Central and Eastern European workers they would have to face and, in turn, the countries from Central and Eastern Europe were afraid that some of their qualified staff would migrate to the EU-15, this because of the higher salaries there. This is precisely what happens in the health care sector and negatively influences the functioning of health care systems in countries such as Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary, that have just gone through a transition process.

The international mobility of health care workers is not a new phenomenon, but the migration of workers from less developed to more well-to-do countries has increased enormously these last few years. This trend is also visible in Europe and explains why health care systems of the 'new' countries have to deal with a loss of qualified staff. In 2004, in Slovakia, for example, 363 doctors went abroad and, these last two years, this number has probably even increased. The main reason why these people leave their country is the (more) attractive salary they can earn in some of the EU-15 countries.

Following the Trade Council Health Services, Eurofedop is working on the follow-up of this subject. Thus, it is looking for partners it can jointly fight the problems in relation to migration with. This theme should be given more attention at European level and Eurofedop can play an important role in this. On the basis of the input of its member organisations, Eurofedop will use its mandate to raise this subject at European level, as, after all, this is a problem that reaches beyond the national borders. Contacts have already been sought with the European Commission and HOPE.

The mobility within Europe, that of students but also that of workers, is an objective to aim for, however, this should happen in a careful manner, in a way that is equal for all. Exchange involves more than just migration, therefore, it is of essential importance that inequalities within the European policy are removed as quickly as possible. Another subject at this Trade Council Health Services was the strategic plan 2006-2012 of the INGO grouping Health of the Council of Europe. Paul De Raeve, chairman of the grouping, was the spokesman.

The Community action programme in the field of public health (2003-2008) and the conference 'Does IT Work ? Next Generation Care in the Information Age' were other items dealt with during the meeting. To conclude, it was insisted that national authorities would cooperate in the collection of statistical data on the number of nursing staff. This info is very important for EUROSTAT, that can use this information in the accomplishment of its policy supportive task.

Eurofedop participates in Liaison Forum Brussels, 19.06.2006

Eurofedop attended the Social Liaison Forum of the European Commission in Brussels. The Liaison Forum brings together social partners to discuss the results of consultation processes, multi-sectoral agreements that have been achieved, and the latest actions of the Commission regarding social dialogue, social rights and working conditions. Jackie Morin, Head of Unit Social dialogue and industrial relations, chaired the meeting. He first explained the action plan and upcoming events.

On 14 September 2006 a conference will take place dealing with 'Mobility and the role of social partners' and the Commission will also follow up the Green Paper on Demographic changes. In addition to this, the Commission will further elaborate on the new strategy for health and safety. Eurofedop had already planned seminars on these topics too so it will be dealing with the policy issues when the legislation process is still in full swing.

At the Liaison Forum, Mr. Michele Calandrino (DG EMPL policy analyst in Unit 2 - Inclusion) presented the follow-up of the consultation process of the Commission Communication on the promotion of active inclusion of the people furthest from the Labour market COM(2006)44 Final. The final results of this study will be published by the end of September. In 2005 the Council re-launched the Lisbon Strategy refocusing on growth and employment, with the goal of contributing to social cohesion. Greater social cohesion is key to a successful Lisbon Strategy.

The fight against poverty and the integration of people excluded from the labour market remain a real challenge for the EU, particularly after enlargement. In the process of public consultation, some stakeholders pointed out that the focus of the Commission's Communication was too simplistic; it should not only focus on employment and the (re)-integration of people furthest from the Labour market, but also on the quality of the work and it should address the issue of the 'low-wage trap'.

Secondly, Ms. Fay Devonic (DG EMPL head of unit' Equality between men and women') presented the Commission Communication on a Roadmap for equality between women and men COM (2006)92 Final. Through this initiative, the Commission shows its strong commitment to the topic and it wants to ensure gender mainstreaming all over Europe. Next to the existing concepts, the roadmap also contains new actions and it emphasises that the ageing problem, globalisation and the low birth-rates the EU is facing, make it more and more necessary to consider demographics in relation to this topic. The most striking news is of course the creation of a European Institute for Gender Equality (in 2007). This institution will be set up to support EU member states and institutions in promoting equality between men and women and combating sex discrimination. Fay Devonic called for active participation of stakeholders, to contribute to the best implementation possible of this roadmap.

'Health is wealth - working breakfast in European Parliament Brussels (European Parliament), 22.06.2006

On 22 June Eurofedop attended a working breakfast organised by the SME Union of the EPP-ED in the European Parliament. The breakfast was chaired by MEP and President of SME Global Paul Rübig, and concentrated on health in SME's all over Europe. Investing in health is extremely important people do not always realize that health care is a long-term investment; healthy people can work and produce, and they cost less. The President of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts (EASA) Mr. Felix Unger, pointed out that we should always be striving for 'health for all, based on solidarity'. He also emphasised that since many people work in the health care sector (the health care market is the largest employer in Europe, 25% of GNP) we need to think of how we deal with the people, the employees. Too often, they are only seen as a tool, an instrument but 'medicine is an art'. MEP Avril Doyle (Committee on environment, public health and food safety) started by underlining that health care competencies are currently at Member State level but should be transferred more significantly to the European level. This is why it is of the utmost importance that the Constitutional Treaty will be signed, Avril Doyle said.
In addition to this, a solid framework for health is a key element within the Lisbon strategy. Finally, Mr. Maurice Wagner, Director General of EUCOMED mentioned three key issue sin health care; access, quality and financial stability. It was also pointed out by all speakers, that the topic of health care is highly politicised. Particularly with regard to the financial aspects, these are all purely political decisions. Some called for depoliticisation of health care. MEP Paul Rübig emphasised that the European Parliament is involved heavily in health issues. Recently documents on the protection of health care workers and the working time directive have been discussed. The health care services are not included in the services directive, it is, however, necessary to create a strong legislative framework for the health care services, to guarantee access and quality for all. Eurofedop is currently working on several health issues and is using its broad network within the sector, and within the EU institutions to achieve the most for the health care workers in Europe.

Political agreement on a services directive 29.05.2006, Brussels (European Parliament)

After the Parliament's first reading in February this year, it was now the Council's turn to reach agreement on the services directive. On Monday 29 May (precisely one year after the France's 'no') the European ministers met in Brussels to discuss the newly proposed draft for a services directive. In broad lines, the EU ministers followed the Commission's new proposal. By unanimity, the Council reached a political agreement on this draft. At one of its forthcoming meetings, it will formally adopt a common position, which will be forwarded to the European Parliament for a second reading.
The text upon which the ministers have agreed was a balanced compromise put forward by the Austrian presidency. Eurofedop will closely follow the developments surrounding the Council's actions with regard to the services directive. It is important that the Council stays close to the amended version, and will not push for services that need their own regulatory framework (i.e. services of general interest) to be re-inserted into the directive.

Eurofedop participates in meeting with MEP Pierre Jonckheer 07.06.2006, European Parliament, Brussels

Eurofedop was present at the meeting in the European Parliament during which the publication of 'Social developments in the European Union - 2005) was discussed. Eurofedop was invited by Pierre Jonckheer MEP and chairman of the Observatoire social européen (OSE) and key speakers participating in the event were Pierre Defraigne, Director of Eur-IFRI, Philippe Pochet, director of the OSE, Eric Van den Abeele, lecturer at UMH and associated researcher at the OSE. Additional contributions were given by Torbjörn Strandberg, representative of SALTSA (Swedish confederation of employees) Maria Jepsen, head of department at ETUI-REHS and Christophe Degryse, co-editor of the 'Social developments in the EU'. Particularly Mr. Degryse had a very outspoken view on Europe and its social 'model'. He stated that Europe should speak with one voice and that it should carry out one message. The EU needs to develop a common vision and it has to ask itself the ethical question; what to do with the social side of the Union? According to Mr. Degryse three factors go directly against the creation of a social model for Europe. Firstly the division of tasks; the EU experiences a bad division of labour, secondly the institutional prejudices and finally the neo-liberal doctrine that is dominant in the EU. The relation between politics, social stability and (economic) growth is tense; democracy is neither a condition nor a guarantee for growth. At the same time there exists a saying that 'no social paradise on an economic graveyard' is possible. In addition to this, the EU is facing several external challenges such as globalisation and immigration. Maria Jepsen was asking the audience why we are trying to get rid of all the things that have to do with Europe within the social policy area. She referred to the working time directive and pointed out that it is currently deteriorating, most likely at the expense of the workers in Europe.
About the publication
In the publication 'Social developments in the EU' the contributors examine the European social model, both from the inside and the outside, the governance of the eurozone, the political priorities outlined in the financial perspectives (2007-2013) and recent and forthcoming enlargements. The important role of political, economic and social stakeholders in the debate around 'better regulation', the Lisbon strategy and the European social dialogue is also highlighted by the authors.

Eurofedop's participation
The conference following the publication of this study gave an overview of a rather sad social situation in Europe and many participants pointed out that reading the 'Social developments in the EU' was depressing and emphasised the crisis in which the EU finds itself now. It illustrated once again the importance of an organisation such as Eurofedop. It remains highly important to stay alert and not to fall back in a defensive attitude and to keep the dialogue going. By attending events such as the meeting with Pierre Jonckheer, Eurofedop stays up-to-date and at the same time it seizes the opportunity to be heard. As Philippe Pochet pointed out during the meeting; when talking about the European Social Model, people often talk in superficial and everyday language. This meeting, however, contributed to an in depth dialogue on the topic of a 'social Europe'.

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http://www.ose.be/en/default.htm

'Demographic challenges' finally on EU agenda Working Breakfast 31 May - CEPS conference 01 June

Notwithstanding the fact that many think it should have been done earlier, the issue of demographic changes in Europe has finally been put on the EU agenda. Last week, Eurofedop attended two events dealing with this topic in Brussels. On Wednesday 31 May the SME Union of the EPP-ED organised a working breakfast in the European Parliament and invited several experts on the topic of demographic change.

The speakers and participants of the working breakfast discussed the demographic changes in Europe in the wider framework of the Lisbon Agenda, and focused in particular on the challenges for SME's. MEP Philip Bushill-Matthews (Rapporteur on the dossier) stated that he welcomed the Commission's initiative to finally face the problems related to demographics in Europe. Ms. Jenny Watson, chair of the UK's Equal Opportunities Commission emphasised the key role of women in improving the work-life balance.

MEP Philip Bushill-Matthews

Mr. Bushill-Matthews stressed that it is in the interest of the entire society that women (and elderly) participate more significantly in the labour market. These issues should therefore not be addressed separately, but in a comprehensive manner as all the topics (women, childcare, ageing, pensions, migration, working hours etc) are interlinked.

On Thursday 2 June Eurofedop was present at a conference organised by the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) and the European Office of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. The objective of the conference was to discuss and analyse the consequences of demographic change for the regions of Europe.Prime Minister of the State of Saxony, Prof. Dr. Georg Milbradt was present and pointed out the situation in his region. He posed the question of how such a low number of young professionals today, will be able to replace the 'babyboom' generation which is about to approach the age of retirement. He stated that prolonging the working life (i.e. raise the retirement age) is only one of the measures that could be taken. Other solutions can be found in the area of healthcare, gender equality and immigration. However, politicians play a major role in this and they tend to focus on short-term achievements rather than long-term.

The demographic challenges the EU is facing at the moment are long-term challenges which may even contain risks that we are not yet aware of. This was also confirmed by MEP Bushill-Mattehws and by Jorgen Mortensen, Senior Research Fellow for CEPS. Finally, Graham Meadows, Director General of the European Commission's DG Regional Policy underlined that there is a collision of short-term and long-term thinking visible in this policy field more than in any other. In addition to this, there is the constant impact of globalisation, which makes the problem much more serious. The world contains 6.5 billion citizens at the moment, this number is expected to rise up to 9.3 billion in 2050, however, growth and higher birth rates will be seen on other continents, but hardly on the European one.

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Attachment: A6-0041/2006 FINAL (Report on demographic challenges and solidarity between the generations by the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs in the European Parliament) NE, EN, DE, FR, ES

Far reaching measures in Dutch prisons touch safety of personnel
(Translated abstract of article published in CNV Publieke Zaak, May 2006)

Several reorganisation processes are taking place simultaneously in the prisons in the Netherlands. Nobody is sure about the consequences for the personnel. Politicians say that by expanding the amount of camera's, fewer employees are needed in prisons. This is not surprising, but what then, happens to the prison employees who remain employed? Fewer personnel means less control and of course more pressure on the guards. The current situation allows 1 employee to guard 12 prisoners. This will increase up to 24 if the politicians are following through their plans. Trade unions are furious and complain that this policy is just about cutting the costs and that this is happening at the expense of the prison personnel. It is the safety of the employees that is at stake here and the control that takes place among the employees is an extremely important element that will disappear. 'We have to see where this is going', Alfred Lohman says. 'Training and education are also becoming more and more important. We have to invest significantly more in our people, in order to enable them to work in different positions within the prison sector as well'.

The work of a prison guard is tough and not everybody can handle it. It is often quite difficult to find the right people for the right positions. The personnel in the Dutch prisons needs to become more 'allround'.

That way, when politicians are following through their proposed measures, solutions can be found to solve the safety problem of some understaffed prisons. There is a risk that through training and education, older experienced employees will disappear to other positions, whereas they could be the ones coaching the young employees entering the sector. Internationally, Dutch prison systems are generally known as safe. However, there is already a lack of personnel; this puts a lot of pressure on the integrity. Furthermore it is hard for those who want to contribute to the work of the unions; there is hardly any time left to invest in the work of trade union counselling. In this sector, everything is interdependent; taking away one feature of the structure will have major implications for the entire sector. At this moment, it could not be more important to be member of a union.
At its upcoming meetings and conferences, CNV Publieke Zaak will discuss and analyse the political plans for the prison employees.

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Relevant link (on Dutch prison system): http://www.dji.nl/main.asp?lid=en