Tuesday, February 28, 2012


IWS Documented News Service


Institute for Workplace Studies----------------- Professor Samuel B. Bacharach

School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies

Cornell University

16 East 34th Street, 4th floor---------------------- Stuart Basefsky

New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau



Global Labour University (GLU)


The Crisis: the Response of the European Trade Unions

Monday, February 20, 2012

by Bernadette Ségol







The unanimous political response to the crisis across Europe today is that of austerity and budgetary discipline. Cutting pay and social welfare, attacking bargaining mechanisms and making employment contracts ultra-flexible: that is the current paradigm, the Berlin/Brussels consensus, offered as the only way forward.


This solution is not working and will not work. It stifles growth and blocks the way to job creation. We can no longer ignore its disastrous social consequences and the rise of nationalism in many European countries bringing into question our essential values based on solidarity.


We need to change the narrative.


Official voices are increasingly being raised against austerity, but mainly from outside Europe. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) say that austerity without growth is a dangerous dead-end. International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde has expressed concerns on behalf of the IMF. Even credit rating agencies – self-serving oligopolies that they are - have joined in the chorus.

But the message isn’t getting through to the finance ministers. While lip service is being paid in the European Council to the need to foster growth and employment, concrete proposals commensurate with the disaster we are facing are missing, in stark contrast to the sharp minutiae of the fiscal plans before us. The ETUC is for sound budgets. But the fiscal compact calls for a balancing social contract.


NOTE: Bernadette Ségol is the Secretary General of the European Trade Union Confederation. Previously she was the head of UNI Europa, the European trade union federation for services and communication which represents 7 million workers and 330 affiliated trade unions. One of her main focuses is wage equality in Europe.




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