Workplace Week – the workers have their say

As part of the ETUC Pay Rise campaign, IndustriAll Europe and its affiliates are participating in the ‘Workplace Week’ from 7 – 11 May 2018. Throughout the week we will share workers’ testimonies from across Europe with country-specific examples of how IndustriAll Europe’s affiliated organisations use collective bargaining as a means to achieve wage increases.

Working people in many EU countries are still earning less today than before the crisis. This is the result of the dismantling of collective bargaining and the growing number of precarious jobs that are slowly bringing down the level of unemployment.

IndustriAll European Trade Union is consequently calling for better wages and greater purchasing power. The Pay Rise campaign is a crucial element in our European trade union federation’s efforts to bridge pay gaps (North/South, East/West, Gender Pay Gap, Productivity Pay Gap..) to achieve better wages and greater purchasing power for everyone.

During Workplace Week we let the workers do the talking! Across the European Union, North and South, East and West, our affiliates are explaining their reasons why we need a pay rise.

Jussi Pekka-Ahonen, Teollisuusliitto ry, Finland reminds us that “about 82% of the new wealth created last year went to the top 1% of the world”. He also states that in Finland, a country considered by so many as progressive and prosperous, there are a growing number of young workers who are really struggling in their lives; they are struggling with their salaries and need a pay rise!

A mother of two children, Valeria Vanáková, OZ KOVO ADAMPOL Žilina, Slovakia thinks that the cost of the basic items in Slovakia has increased rapidly in recent times. She believes that prices in other parts of Europe and prices in Slovakia are already the same. She also knows that there is a big difference between her salary and salaries in Western Europe.

Jörg Hofmann, IG Metall, Germany explains that IG Metall’s latest collective bargaining round was a great success. Our colleagues in Germany achieved three significant goals, including a decent wage increase, greater autonomy over our working time and a contribution from the employers for better work-life balance and health.

Harriet Katajisto, EWC Member, DIFF Union, Finland stresses that regular pay rises improve citizens’ opportunities to buy goods and services locally and domestically.

Laura Abella, UGT FICA, Spain points out that women in the textile sector in Spain suffer from discrimination and the wage gap, which reaches 23% on average. Women in Spain earn €6,000 less than the average man every year.

Thomas Kloesch is a young member of Pro-GE in Austria. He feels that in recent years, only shareholders have benefitted from economic recovery. Now it’s time for employees whose efforts created additional profits.

Barbora Beranová is a member of the Czech OS KOVO trade union at VALEO. As a single woman, she feels that the money she earns is sufficient for her as an individual. “I can’t afford much but I live a normal life.” The problem comes when she looks to the future – for young workers the future is anything but clear. “When I look into the future, if I have a family, mortgage, etc, I can’t imagine that my wage is sufficient.” A wage increase is the priority for her company trade union organisation. It actively participates in negotiations and is campaigning for a Pay Rise.

The recent most Eurofound Quality of Life Survey showed that in 11 European countries, more than half of the population is having difficulties making ends meet every month. A pay rise is a fair way to tackle rising inequality and in-work poverty, and to generate growth and recovery for the many, not the few.

Better wages must be achieved by promoting and reinforcing collective bargaining structures, as these are the only means to ensure a more equal distribution of income and all-round higher wage levels. This should to be combined, where necessary, with the implementation of a minimum wage, which would guarantee a decent living for every worker in the EU.

IndustriAll Europe is working hard to defend the autonomy of the social partners in collective bargaining, to promote quality employment and high social standards and to ensure that every worker receives his or her fair share of the wealth created.