Migration of health care professionals in Europe
22.11.2006, European Parliament, Brussels

On 22 November Eurofedop organised a Working Breakfast in the European Parliament. Secretary general Bert Van Caelenberg explained the objectives of this meeting; raising awareness and start actions with regard to the issue of migration of health care professionals in Europe. The breakfast was a jointly organised event with HOPE, the European Hospital and Healthcare Federation and was attended by some 15 Members of the European Parliament (MEP's).
Among the present MEPs were the following: Adamos Adamou (Cyprus), Milan Cabrnoch (Czech Rep), Othmar Karas (Austria), Miroslav Mikolásik (Slovakia), Hubert Pirker (Austria), Laszlo, Surjan (Hungary), Jaroslav Zverina (Czech Rep), Paul Rübig (Austria), Jean Lambert (UK) and Reinhardt Rack (Austria).
The European Commission was represented. DG SANCO's Daniel Mann gave a brief overview of the situation of migrating health care workers in Europe.

Two health care professionals participated and clarified the problems in their countries. Mr. Jevgenijs Kalejs, a doctor from Latvia, explained that Latvian health care workers mainly migrate to the UK and principally for economic reasons (i.e. higher incomes). Ms. Jolante Toliusiene, a nurse from Lithuania, said that although most employees rather work in a hospital in their home country, there is a strong economic motive for (too) many professionals to leave and look for higher salaries elsewhere (EU15, Norway, US).
These two examples clearly illustrated the problems that occur in a large part of the region of Central and (South-) Eastern Europe, the new member states of the EU. During the discussion, this tension between the fundamental principle of 'free movement' and migration flows from recently acceded member states into EU15 was further emphasised.


Adamos Adamou, Cypriot MEP


Irena Belohorská, MEP and coming from Slovakia, stated that this problem is entirely a question of money. In other sectors, where salaries are higher and pension schemes more secure, the exodus of personnel is much less visible. Ms. Belohorská stressed that the answer to this (economic) problem lies with politicians.


Luc Van Roye, VOV (Vereniging Openbare Verzorgingsinstellingen, B);
Irena Belohorská, MEP;
Miroslav Mikolásik, MEP.


László Surján, Hungarian MEP

László Surján, Hungarian MEP, noted that the intention of employees to move to other (EU15) countries is increasing.
The danger is that some departments will have to close. In fact, this is already happening.
Mr Surján also explained that governments do have a role, but cannot just raise salaries in the health sector, while leaving others (police, military, and teachers) behind.
With regard to the tension between the freedom of movement, and the problem of migration Mr. Surján emphasised that negative consequences of mobility need to be managed.

Adamos Adamou, Cypriot MEP stressed the fact that the "EU" often comes up with guidelines, frameworks and policies.
The question is, however, what to do when problems occur?
As health issues typically concern national policies, they should be dealt with at a Member State level.
The EU is "innocent" in these type of situations. It is also important to remember that the problem has two faces; that of the EU15 and that of the new member states.

Prof. Brian Edwards (president of HOPE) closed the meeting by stating that we do not know precisely how serious this problem is. The lack of statistics and the uncertainty about the future (are we talking about circular or permanent migration?) make it extremely difficult to tackle this problem. Prof. Edwards demands support from the MEPs in exposing this problem more clearly, as well as (jointly) organising a hearing in the European Parliament in which further actions will be determined.
- As a follow up to this breakfast meeting, Eurofedop and HOPE will come forward with a document stating the position of the two organisations on this problem and with a request for support of the MEPs that showed their concerns on 22.11.2006 in Brussels.
- Lobby/actions with regard to this topic, coordinated by the staff of both Eurofedop and HOPE. The lobby should finally lead to a hearing in the European Parliament.

The latest developments will be reported to Eurofedop's members on a regular basis.

Jackie Morin presents upcoming actions at Social Dialogue meeting
Brussels, 14.11.2006

On 14 November the Liaison Forum took place in Hotel Bedford, Brussels. Head of Unit Social Dialogue, DG Employment and Social affairs of the European Commission, Jackie Morin, chaired this meeting in which the future actions of the European Commission were presented. Recently, Mr. Morin gave a presentation on the European Social Model, at the Eurofedop preparatory meeting in Luxemburg (21 September). At the Liaison Forum, the emphasis was put on two major topics that are currently subject to debate throughout the entire European Union, namely Flexicurity and Demography. Naturally, Eurofedop is already active in both fields; the issue of demography comes back repeatedly in all our meetings, mainly in preparation of our Congress in April 2007.

Jos Kester, Policy Coordinator of the European Employment Strategy (Unit D2) explained the next steps the commission will take in the area of flexicurity. He defined flexicurity as follows: "A political strategy to enhance at the same time the flexibility of the labour market, work organisation, labour relations and the employment and social security". It seems a definition that contains conflicting concepts, but, according to Jos Kester, this is only the case when these concepts are viewed in an old fashioned way. It was emphasised that we should focus on 'transitions' (between education and work, work and household, different jobs etc) and that flexicurity equals transition security.

As for the demographic topics, Maryse Huet (social and demographic analyst Unit E1) explained the current and future demographic situation in Europe, with ageing being one of the most notable problems. Daniela Bankier (Head of Unit Equality, action against discrimination G2) presented the consultation on the reconciliation of work and private (family) life that was recently launched by the European Commission. Stakeholders can contribute to this consultation. It goes without saying that Eurofedop also participates in this consultation procedure.

The issues of Flexicurity, Demography and the reconciliation of work and family life will return onto Eurofedop's agenda for the coming months, and the new year. In December, a seminar will be held in Tallinn, at which work and family life is one of the topics on the agenda; inevitably, the demographic challenges that Europe faces today will be discussed too.

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Please learn more about the Social Dialogue Unit of DG Employment and Social affairs:
http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/social_dialogue/index_en.htm

European trade union meeting in Belgrade
Serbia, 18-20.10.2006

Eurofedop sent a delegation to Belgrade, Serbia, to attend a seminar in which all Serbian member organisations participated. Among the guests were Ms. Jasmina Damjanović, Deputy Director of the Government secretariat for legislation and Mr. Milan Božić, Chairman of the managing board of Telekom Srbija.

The topics discussed at the seminar included social dialogue and the role and representation of trade unions. It was decided that a conference will be organised (early 2007) about modernisation of public administration, social dialogue and Human Resources. Ms. Damjanović backed this plan and was, also during this seminar, prepared to fully engage in the discussion on the role of trade unions and the future of EU-Serbia relations. Mr. Njegoš Potežica, member of the Eurofedop executive board, explained the current situation and problems in trade union actions in Serbia.

Although a successful seminar, it became clear that in the Justice sector in particular, the labour relations are currently under pressure and the sector should perhaps welcome the social dialogue much more. Major progress was visible in the telecom sector as well as in the administrative sector; however, it seems that unfortunately, the justice sector is clearly lagging behind.

First Forum on Europe’s demographic future
30-31.10.2006, European Commission, Brussels

Eurofedop was present at the well-attended Forum on Europe’s Demographic Future, organised by the European Commission. The event brought together some 400 experts, policy makers and stakeholders from all over Europe and from all fields.
After its Greenpaper entitled ‘a new solidarity between generations the Commission published its Communication ‘from challenge to opportunity’ on 12 October 2006. The Forum on Demography was organised to support both the Greenpaper and the Communication. The policies in the area of integration, gender equality, migration and active ageing have been identified and the European Commission now feels that it is time to move on to gradual implementation of these policies.

The forum contained 6 workshops each dealing with a different topic. One of them was entitled ‘active ageing in a life course perspective’ and dealt with the role of older people in society and on the labour market. The idea behind ‘active ageing’ is to preserve and to use the potential of older people, allowing them to take an active part in socia and economic life. In order to have financially sustainable social protection systems, it is necessary to keep people (elderly too) active on the labour market. Other policies involved in active ageing are lifelong learning, suitable working conditions for the elderly, social services that support and facilitate the integration society.

In his speech, Commissioner Spidla stressed that the problems we are talking about today, are the result of fundamentally positive developments; we are healthier and our life expectancy has increased. In addition to this, we have more control over the structure of our families (i.e. the number of children).
At our Congress in April 2007, demography will be one of the main topics. All the Trade Councils are currently writing reactions on the basic document, that also deals with the demographic challenges for the public services. During the Congress, a resolution will be brought forward that states Eurofedop’s position on this issue and indicates the direction and the actions that Eurofedop will take.

For more information on demographic changes in Europe, please consult the following websites:
http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/index_en.html

Health priorities of the upcoming German Presidency
presented at the Health Forum Gastein, 4-7 October 2006

At the European Health Forum Gastein, the health attaché of the German Permanent Representation to the EU, Frank Niggemeier, as well as Mr. Schulte and Mr. Kummel of the German Ministry of Health announced the upcoming German Presidency priorities. The German Presidency (January 2007 – June 2007) will be the first one that is part of a “team presidency”. This means that three countries, namely Germany, Portgual and Slovenia (whose Presidencies follow Germany’s), will work together over the 18 months period. This new approach seeks to build in continuity as regards the content of strategies and policies. As such, the team members will work together on various issues and will jointly organise conferences and events.

Goals of the upcoming German Presidency

The main priorities of the upcoming German Presidency are:

As regards health, the Germany's Presidency will have three key themes:

The Presidency will aim to:

Strategies of the upcoming German Presidency

There will be a pilot project on patient information on pharmaceuticals with respect to diabetes during the German Presidency (looking at what information on pharmaceuticals can be provided to the patient without advertising the product). A report on this issue will be published in 2007.

The German Presidency will look at access to healthcare:

The German Presidency will look at Communications expected to be proposed:

The Presidency will work on expected Commission White Papers that will be issued in March / April 2007 on:

The Presidency will work on expected Commission Recommendations on:

Events and conferences under the watch of the German Presidency

Events and conferences organised by the German Presidency

In parallel to this conference, there will be a NGO forum on this issue.

Outlook

The upcoming German Presidency further stated that as part of the BATON project, namely the team Presidency with Portugal and Slovenia, Portugal will look at health promotion, and Slovenia will particularly focus on cancer. The three countries will organise joint working groups to consider if there is a need for new action and policies.

Eurofedop present at seminar on Working Time and Work-Life balance
17.10.2006, European Parliament, Brussels

The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working conditions organised a seminar on finding the right balance between working time and work and family life. The past three decades the foundation has carried out a lot of study work related to how workers combine their work and family lives. This has been carried out in the light of the EU's policy developments regarding working time (the working time directive) and the changing forms of employment (part-time work etc) and within the overall framework of the Lisbon Strategy.
Though coming from different backgrounds, the speakers agreed that the working time discussion is really about the issue of health and safety.
The seminar, which was initiated mainly from within the PES group in the Parliament, and the Foundation, invited speakers from employers' as well as workers' organisations and politicians (national and European).
Working time was a topic that was discussed extensively. There was a general opinion that the 'individual opt-out' which allows workers to work longer than 48 hours (in agreement with the employer) is wrong, this was particularly coming from employees' and political sides. This opt-out was introduced under pressure of the British government and was therefore referred to as a UK solution rather than a European one, by José Silva Peneda, MEP.
The second issue discussed was the concept of work-life balance, obviously closely intertwined with the issue of working time. The concept of work-life balance applies to workers of all ages and not just specifically to parents with young children. The ways in which families are composed have changed drastically in Europe, as well as the paths people take in their lives when it comes to education and jobs. The traditional path of education-employment-retirement has been reassessed. Today, learning does not stop when one enters the labour market; on the contrary, we are striving more and more for life long learning.

It goes without saying that gender equality is an important issue in the debate on working time and work-life balance too. Part-time work is overwhelmingly carried out by women and occurs mostly in the education and health sectors (traditionally predominantly female occupations). Jean Lambert, MEP stressed that it is very much a question of a power relationship and about "who has the choice". This does not only refer to gender related issues though but also, for example, to what is available in your region (what is being offered?).
Flexibility is needed for both companies (employers) and employees. Not only do working time arrangements hugely impact the efficiency and the productivity of companies and organisations, they can also have a significant bearing on the health, well-being and motivation of their employees.
Eurofedop will deal with this topic at its upcoming seminar in Tallinn, December 2006.

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For more info:
Study: http://eurofound.europa.eu/publications/htmlfiles/ef0627.htm
Infosheet: http://eurofound.europa.eu/publications/htmlfiles/ef0625.htm

Autumn session at the Council of Europe
01-06.10.2006, Strassburg

In the year 2006, once again an important step has been taken in world history, within the Council of Europe, by granting a more participatory status to the International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGO). Indeed, the INGOs are more and more considered a partner for the discussion and their president takes more and more part, as the 4th pillar of the Council of Europe, in the "quadrilogue".
However, this also meant that great changes had to be made in the work scheme ... the INGOs having passed from a "consultative" to a "participatory" status ... Eurofedop has mainly cooperated in working out the organisational aspect, more specifically in the elaboration of new work schemes that had to allow INGOs to give in time serious advices on certain themes to the Committee of Ministers, the decision-making body of the Council of Europe.

Thus Eurofedop has cooperated with a number of other INGOs in drawing up a "memorandum" following the "Juncker declaration" (declaration made by the Prime Minister of Luxemburg, following the request made in this sense by the 46 governmental leaders of the Council of Europe at the Summit of Warsaw).
Furthermore, Eurofedop will continue to work for the promotion of "fundamental human rights" and the preservation and ratification of all articles of the European Social Charter by all 46 member states of the Council of Europe.
The future of the European Social Charter is severely put to the test by the creation of a European agency, at the European Union, with the same powers but 10 times more budgetary means ... Is this a first sign of the national states' wish to get rid of that "neutral" criticism on their policy ???
Conclusion
The next 2 years will be of crucial importance to the working of INGOs ... If the world of INGOs wants to be taken seriously, it will have to prove that it offers an added value to the Council of Europe ... Eurofedop wants to cooperate in this, because Europe, apart from a purely economic need, also has a need for respect for "(social) values".

Health First Europe’s annual meeting
17.10.2006 Hotel Renaissance, Brussels

Being a founding member of Health First Europe, Eurofedop attended the annual general members meeting which was held in the Renaissance hotel in Brussels. During this meeting, Secretary General Bert Van Caelenberg was elected member of the Executive Committee of Health First Europe. This means he will be advising the General Assembly as well as examining membership applications.
The meeting contained some interesting elements, namely a presentation by Martin Dorazil from the European Commission, DG Health and Consumer Protection, health strategy unit (C5). Mr. Dorazil pointed out the Commission’s activities on health issues, and mainly elucidated the consultation on health services that the Commission launched late September. The consultation process closes in January 2007, naturally, Eurofedop will be participating too. In response to Bert Van Caelenberg’s question about the problem of the migration of health care professionals within Europe, Mr. Dorazil confirmed the seriousness of this issue.
Before moving on to the elections of the Executive and Advisory boards, HFE presented its renewed website (www.healthfirsteurope.org) and the upcoming activities for the last months of 2006. An overview of the activities in the past year was given too. It is obvious that the members are of the utmost importance to Health First Europe, for they define the organisation’s raison d’être.

The other way around, however, Health First Europe acts as a very important and useful vehicle for members such as Eurofedop, in the sometimes long road of tackling health care problems at a European level. The upcoming activities include a survey on healthcare to which Eurofedop has contributed too.

One of the members described the cooperation with HFE in 4 P’s:
Progress
Potential
Patience
Principles
Eurofedop subscribes to this comment and has indeed seen a lot of progress, still sees a high potential, still realises that patience in these matters is gold and fully agrees with the principles that HFE stands for.

POSITION OF EUROFEDOP
Continuation of the lobby against the liberalisation of postal services in 2009

On 18 October, Commissioner McCreevy announced the plans of the European Commission with regard to the liberalisation of postal services. The conclusion was as we feared : the complete liberalisation of postal services in January 2009. With this new proposal of the Commission, there will be no monopolies anymore on ‘reserved services’.
Eurofedop holds on to its position as determined at its Trade Council Post in Dubrovnik in June 2006 and as explained in its letter to delegates of the European Parliament and members of the European Commission. Eurofedop rejects any form of competition on the basis of the deterioration of social acquisitions and rejects any notion of cancellation of reserved services.
As regards the Universal Service Obligation, the Commission states that this should be preserved. The member states can decide themselves on flexible ways of financing the Universal Service Obligation. Eurofedop worries deeply about the quality of Universal Service Provision after the market will be fully liberalised.
Eurofedop underlines that a great responsibility rests on the shoulders of national trade unions to pronounce and defend these standpoints in their respective countries. On its part, Eurofedop will go on lobbying at European level, first of all next week at the plenary session in Strassburg. Also within the European Joint Committee Post, we will put forward and defend these standpoints through our delegation.

It is important that, in this new phase, although we foresaw this a long time ago, our voice will be continuously heard against the full liberalisation of the market.
Eurofedop is worried about the employment and working conditions for the personnel of postal services. Forced dismissals should be avoided at any time. Competition may not lead to a profitable outcome for the postal operators alone; the citizens and the workers should also benefit from it.
At national and European level, we will fight for a just reform of the postal services and against a rücksichtlose opening up of this market and all the consequences it may involve for workers of the postal services.

Bert Van Caelenberg
Secretary General Eurofedop

Services Directive Update

The debate on the controversial ‘services directive’ is in full swing again. Last spring, the Council reached political agreement, and the second reading of the European Parliament was opened on 13 September. Currently, amendments are being considered. At the core of the debate are sensitive issues such as the exclusion of (all) services of general interest. In the first reading, the EP voted on leaving the choice up to the Member States to define which services belong to the category of SGI and (some) services of general economic interest were left in the Draft directive. Today, some argue that SGI are by their very nature non-economic and should thus entirely be excluded. This is being counter argued by saying that we have to accept that this text will be a compromise, that has come from far, and that we should not put this compromise at risk. The political agreement reached in the Council, is a balanced compromise, of which the content is very close to the Parliament’s first reading.
The proposed amendment (made by Evelyne Gebhardt, MEP) of excluding all SGI from the scope of the directive, is of course of interest to Eurofedop. It does not seem likely, however, that this fragile compromise will still undergo huge modifications like that, according to Charlie Mc Creevy, Internal Market Commissioner.

To closely follow the debate on the ‘Services Directive’ please keep the following dates in mind:
20 October: deadlines MEPs for amendments
23 October: IMCO (Committee on Internal Market and Consumer protection) meeting and votes in Strasbourg. Eurofedop is present
October / November: High Level Group meetings
9 November: possible deadline for plenary amendments.
15 November: vote in plenary (Brussels)

Visit the following sites for more info about the directive proposal:

Draft Recommendation for 2nd reading:
EN: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2004_2009/documents/pr/629/629484/629484en.pdf
FR: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2004_2009/documents/pr/629/629484/629484fr.pdf
DE: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2004_2009/documents/pr/629/629484/629484de.pdf

“PPP” and “Info society” for our regions
11.10.2006

On 09-12 October, the European Commission (DG Regio) and the Committee of the Regions organised the 4th edition of the ‘Open Days’, a week which is completely dedicated to development, innovation, competitiveness and sustainability of the regions in Europe. Participants from over 135 regions in Europe could attend and participate in seminars and workshops throughout the city of Brussels. Eurofedop attended a seminar on Public Private Partnership (PPP) in regions. European Commissioner in charge of Regional Policy Ms. Danuta Hübner held a speech and underlined the complexity of partnerships between players in the public and the private sectors. She explained that the public sector does not have the capacity to carry out large scale projects.

To quote the EU Commissioner Ms. Hübner: “To be brutally frank, we do not think we can make it without private capital joining us”. Other speakers at the meeting were Mr. Maxime Bureau from General Electrics, Mr. Olivier Debande from the European Investment Bank and finally Mr. Jan Olbrycht, MEP, who chaired the seminar. Although some of the participants tried to focus more on the public side, and on the quality of services delivered by the public sector, the focus was obviously more on companies and large investors. Successful examples were given of Private cooperation with public such as the lighting of cities or hospitals, or the security of prisons. All speakers agreed on the fact that PPP’s that involve additional EU funding are even more complicated to execute than those who do not.


The idea of PPP’s is that the public and private sector work together. The public sector provides the appropriate infrastructure whilst the private sector secures the financing. Ideally, this could be beneficial for companies, government ánd users! It is clear, however, that we must stay critical and always focus on the quality of the services delivered, as well as the providers and their working conditions.
Is your region connected?
The second seminar dealt with the question of how ‘connected’ regions are. ‘Is your region connected to the Information Society?’ was the main question that speakers from different fields and with different interests elucidated for us. Executives from Microsoft, Hewlett Packard and Intel explained how they had worked together with cities and regions to get them connected. Increasing connectivity of regions is important in the process of bridging the digital divide and in gaining more economic and social benefits across Europe. E-government is a topic that Eurofedop is dealing with a lot. We should acknowledge the benefits that e-government can bring, and we have to accept that our societies are changing and ICT plays a bigger role today as it has ever done before. As an organisation representing the employees in local and regional administrations too, however, we have to be wary that this group gets the chance to adapt to these changes in a dignified way and that they get all the training, education and support they need.

More information:
www.opendays.europe.eu
http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/index_fr.htm

Press Communiqué (from our Swiss colleagues)
A national action day for the public service

On 15th September, day of the public service, the Common Action Group for the Public Service organised a study day in Bern. Central to the discussion was a study that had been performed by KOF, the economic research centre of the Federal Polytechnic of Zürich. The study had been ordered by the Conference of Ebenrain. This scientific study analysed for the first time, in a thorough way, the economic impact of public service provisions in Switzerland. The study came to the following surprising but clear conclusions : public service provisions contribute considerably to the economic prosperity and increase notably the productivity of a market economy. Other international comparative studies have shown the high efficiency of the public services in Switzerland and the importance of high-quality public services for the advantages linked to the special place of Switzerland. The study furthermore confirms two statements : the private sector is not more productive than the public service and there is no relation between the level of taxes and the economic growth.

The different sides of the issue were dealt with by members of the Common Action Group for the Public Service and invited speakers. Pierre-André Arm of transfair underlined that it is essential that, in all parts of the country, the access of every citizen to the Internet at high speed and fixed and mobile telephone networks is assured.
Transfair committed itself to a strong public service on 15th September, together with 16 other workers’ organisations.
For more info :
www.transfair.ch

PRESS COMMUNIQUÉ
Eurofedop against the dismantling of civil service in Hungary

While protesters fill the streets of Budapest, and the attention is on them, the current government of Hungary takes measures by which the civil service and the public service are completely dismantled.

The personnel of ministries, as well as teachers and health care workers are the victims of these measures.

The loss of ± 5,000 full-time jobs is operated in a way that no respect is shown for the ‘Acquis Communautaire’, namely for the social part of it.

However, in order to be allowed to join the Union, the country also had to sign this social part. Now that it is a member, it uses the EU’s convergence programme for justifying and imposing its austerity measures.

Eurofedop has taken note of this situation during its meeting on 21-22/09/2006 and strongly protests against these practices.

We support SZEF and its partial organisation in their fight to do away with these South American practices of sham talks or no talks at all taking place between the administration and its trade unions.

Green light for Romania and Bulgaria

Last week, the European Commisson announced that the EU will have two new member states in January 2007. Bulgaria and Romania are situated in South East Europe and for a while, it did not seem like they would join the Union that soon. However, last week, the negotiations between the EU and the two candidate countries reached a crucial stage and the date was set for accession.
The monitoring reports show that both countries are getting closer to fulfilling the Copenhagen criteria. Despite the significant progress that has already been made, there remain areas where both countries still need to achieve more progress.

These areas involve modernisation of infrastructure, the decentralisation of administration, increase the capacity to manage EU funds, investing in health care and the rural regions. It goes without saying that there should also be a policy of zero tolerance of corruption and crime.
If you want to read more about EU enlargement, please visit the following website:
http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/index_en.htm

STRIKE ACTION BY PRISON OFFICERS

Dear Colleagues

You will be aware, following recent press and media coverage that POA members working in prisons in England and Wales have voted overwhelmingly for industrial action, up to and including a strike. You will recall that in 1993 the Tory Government removed trade union rights for Prison Officers and returned them in 1994, with restrictions. This included a law that criminalised Prison Officers or any who induced this, to take industrial action. Labour in opposition promised to return full trade union rights to Prison Officers.

Although, the offending Section 127 was removed from statute in 2005, it was only done on the insistence that the POA signed an Industrial Relations Procedural (no strike) Agreement. The POA has witnessed Prison Service Management's attempt to influence the so called "independent" Pay Review Body and prevent disputes being placed before any independent arbiter on a number of occasions, all of which is in breach of the so called 'legally binding Agreement'. The Union believes we should have all trade union rights returned immediately, the right to collective bargaining and to take industrial action in the furtherance of a dispute.

We recognise however, that this will be a difficult path, but in the meantime, we demand fair treatment from truly independent bodies, that are not directed by the Employer or Government. It is clear from the threats and action that the Government will use (once again) the Courts and sequestration against the POA.

We for our part will stand firm for justice for our members. We thank all unions for their support and may require their help and assistance in the future. We would welcome letters of support, which will be sent to our members. The POA believe that our stance for a fair pay system and independent dispute resolution lies at the heart of the trade union. Many thanks.

BRIAN CATON
General Secretary POA

Work in progress
Rethinking and reforming the European Social Model

The European Social Model is not an obstacle but a positive and essential element in the EU's process of economic growth. The parliamentary committee on Employment and Social affairs has put forward an initiative report on a European Social Model for the future, which reflects a common set of values implemented in different ways in the member states. We are pleased to learn that MEP Pennada (EPP-ED) and MEP De Rossa (PES) are bargaining to get the Social Model high on the EU agenda and that they initiated a profound rethinking of the concept as such. They stress that in order to restore the citizens' confidence and trust in the European project, the social model needs to be reformed and renewed.

In addition to this, they underline the fact that the social dialogue is a vital if not indispensable element in the tradition of the European Social Model. They call for a revitalisation and a greater role of the social dialogue and trialogue at European level. Furthermore, the rapporteurs encourage the member states to implement the 'flexicurity' systems in order to simultaneously guarantee job security and flexibility (mobility) for the employees. The idea behind this system is that employees get the opportunity to obtain and keep a position through the improvement of job-mobility and life long learning. The European Social Model needs reform, and this is not going to be an easy process. EUROFEDOP understands the fact that employment and social policy remain broadly within national competence, but also subscribes to the opinion of the parliamentary committee that there is need for the EU to create a stronger economic and social framework, to allow member states to implement reforms as necessary at national level but according their own economic, social and political circumstances.

The report on a 'European Social Model for the future' (A6-0238/2006) defines the wishes of the employment and social affairs committee. It calls on the Commission to: better balance the economic coordination on the one hand, and employment and social protection on the other hand; democratise the Open Method of Coordination, to ensure that also the national parliaments play a full role; to incorporate the social dimension in its impact analysis in accordance with the social clause provided for the draft constitutional treaty; to respect the social economy and to present a communication on this cornerstone of the European Social Model.

On 5 September, the European Parliament held a debate on this report during the plenary sessions in Strasbourg and voting took place the next day. The European Parliament adopted the report with 507 votes in favour to 113 against and 42 abstentions. During the debate it was stressed that the European Social Model, in spite of the differences in social systems, is fist and foremost a question of values. Most speakers acknowledged the fact that employment and social policy remain a matter of national affairs, but call on the Commission and the Council to respect the initial equilateral triangle of the Lisbon strategy (economy, employment, social protection). Though briefly, the MEPs also mentioned that any succesfull reform of the social systems should involve all stakeholders, in particular the social partners and civil society. 'Recognising both the unity of values and the diversity of the Member States' systems' is a statement made in the report.

This of course lies in line with the slogan that typifies the EU most; 'Unity in diversity'. However, how does this work in practice? If we are not moving towards a common European Social policy, including perhaps a European Social Security system what is it then that we are aiming for? We want convergence, but to what extent? European Social Model, but what exactly does it mean to have a 'common set of values' and how will we see this greater role of social partners and the social dialogue translated into practical examples? As many of you may already know, EUROFEDOP organises a theme conference at which we will ask ourselves the question: What do we, Public Services, expect from a European Social Model? The theme conference will take place on 21 and 22 September in Luxemburg and serves as a preparation of EUROFEDOP's XIth congress in April 2007.

You can now find the programme of the theme conference on our website: http://www.eurofedop.org/agenda/agendafs.html

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Please visit the following links to learn more about the European Social Model and its developments:
English: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/file.jsp?id=5296432
French: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/file.jsp?id=5296432¬iceType=null&language=fr
Click on a flag to go to your language (ES, DE, PT, IT, NE) :
European Social Model