AN HISTORICAL OVERVIEW OF THE PERMANENT CONFERENCE OF THE EUROPEAN CAPITALS TRADE UNIONS

The idea of a systematic meeting, even if informal, between the Trade Unions of Capital Cities in Europe, whose national federations are part of the ETUC, was born in November 1985 in Rome at the third regional congress of the UIL.

UGT Madrid, FO Paris, LO Stockholm, CGIL and CISL were present in Rome then. In September 1988 in Stockholm, LO organised the first Conference in order to make sense of the comparative work started, and at that time the Club of trade unions of the European capitals was born and promoted by DGB Berlin, FO Paris, LO Stockholm, LO Copenhagen, LO Oslo, Workers’ Union Helsinki and UIL Rome.

The second Conference was held in Rome in November 1991 at the invitation of the UIL, and EKA Athens, UGT Madrid, CGIL and CISL Rome joined the Club. In subsequent Conferences, held in Madrid in October 1992 at the initiative of UGT, and in Paris in October 1995 at the initiative of the CFDT, CFTC and FO, trade unions’ participation was expanded to 21 organisations with the presence of OGB Vienna, FTGB Brussels, CSC Brussels, CC.OO Madrid, TUC London, FNV Amsterdam and CGTP Lisbon.

Noting the great interest by all European Capitals trade unions for the meeting’s method, during the Conference in Lisbon in July 1998 called by CGTP and which saw for the first time the presence of a member of the Secretariat of the ETUC, it was decided that the Conference would become a Permanent Conference.

Subsequent meetings were conducted in Athens in February 2000, in Berlin in September 2001 and in Rome in January 2003. This last conference was attended by 60 representatives of trade unions of the European capitals including the trade unions of Warsaw and Bucharest. The enlargement of the EU-27 countries jammed the mechanism of the Conference for organisational and especially financial reasons. Thus, in a meeting convened by the DGB in Berlin in September 2006, the participating organisations (CGIL, CISL and UIL of Rome, CGT Paris, UGT and CC.OO Madrid, EKA Athens, LO Stockholm, Copenhagen and Helsinki) stated that future conferences would be held with the participants paying travel expenses and subsistence, while the host organisation would bear the organisational costs for the conference room and simultaneous translation.

We thus come to the celebration of the VIII Conference in Madrid organised by the UGT and CC.OO from 18 to the 20 June 2008 on the issue “For a Europe of rights and decent work” and which was attended by 40 delegates representing 20 unions of 14 European capitals. In October of 2009, the IX Conference was held in Paris organised by CGT, CFDT, FO and UNSA on the theme “Youth employment and the situation of immigration in the capital regions” attended by 42 delegates representing 20 unions of the European capitals. The X Conference, organised by EKA, was held in Athens from 16 to 18 September 2010 and addressed the issues of “Occupational Health and Safety and the role of the European Capitals Trade Unions” and the way in which the economic crisis was addressed in the European capitals. It was attended by 46 delegates representing 20 unions of European capitals.

The XI Conference organised by LO Copenhagen, was held from 14 to 17 September 2011 and the main theme concerned inclusion and exclusion in the labour market. The study of safety in the workplace prepared for the Athens Conference was updated and a document “In Solidarity with the Tunisian trade union” for the role they played in the Jasmine revolution was approved. It was also agreed that a delegation of the Conference, including representatives of LO Copenhagen, MTUF Moscow, CGIL, CISL and UIL Rome, asked for a meeting with Bernadette Ségol, General Secretary of the ETUC, to clarify and revitalise the relationship between the Conference and the European Trade Union Confederation.

During the meeting with the General Secretary of ETUC Bernadette Ségol in Brussels on 21 November 2011, she highlighted the interest of the ETUC in the work carried out at local level by the Trade Unions European Capitals and it was considered appropriate to create a more organic relationship between the ETUC and the Conference. To this end, Ms Ségol decided that a member of the Secretariat would be in charge of the relationship with the European capitals network and appointed Luca Visentini to keep in touch with the Conference. The decision to hold the coming Conference in Moscow in 2012 hosted by MTUF was confirmed and, for 2013, it was agreed to hold it in Rome hosted by CGIL, CISL and UIL.

The XII Conference was held in Moscow from 19 to 22 September 2012 and the main topic was “Implementation of the concept ‘Decent Work’ under conditions of crisis. Risks and challenges for the European Capitals. Seeking out new ways to uphold working rights”. 46 delegates representing 20 trade union organisations attended the conference. The XIII Conference in September 2013 took place in Rome on the theme of the EU funded project “C.Re.A.T.E.S – Capital Regions and the Twenty20 European Strategy”.

The XIV Conference took place in Vilnius, with the support of the ETUI, on 10 to 13 September 2014 and was organised by Solidarumas, the trade union organisation of the Lithuanian capital city. The meeting was attended by 48 delegates representing 24 trade unions of the European Capitals cities. The topic of the meeting was “The effects of the austerity measures on the European capital cities and measures taken to counter the negative effects on workers and citizens”. The Conference was attended by Ulisses Garrido, ETUI Director, and by Luca Visentini, ETUC Confederal Secretary. The trade unions unanimously approved a document on the functioning of the ECTUN network. During the meeting, it was agreed to organise the XV Conference in Lisbon in June 2015 and the XVI Conference in London in June 2016. In order to finance the organisation of the Conference a project proposal was submitted to the European Commission. Unfortunately the project proposal was not successful.

From 23 to 25 March 2015 a training course was organised in Brussels with the support of the ETUI. The course focussed on “Migration and social inclusion in the European Capital Cities” and was attended by 33 delegates representing 16 European Capitals trade unions. A keynote speaker was Luca Visentini, ETUC General Secretary Elect. It was agreed that Lisbon would host the XV Conference and that the XVI Conference would take place in London, both with the support of the ETUI.

The Lisbon Conference took place from 29 to 31 March 2016, organised by the CGTP Lisbon, and the topic was “From social dumping to quality jobs”. 35 delegates from 16 confederations attended. Bearing in mind the 7 October, the World Day for Decent Work, participants agreed to mark their actions on the day with a common logo.

The XVI Conference will take place in London 8 to 10 March 2017.