At a recent meeting of members working on international issues, Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft, one of Education International's affiliates in Germany, discussed ways to broaden the union's engagement and impact on the international scene.
About 50 trade unionists from all over Germany gathered in Bad Hersfeld, a small town not far from Frankfurt/Main, to evaluate GEW's international activities and discuss ways to engage with fellow trade unionists all over the world.
The two-day meeting saw reports about GEW's international activities, for example in Poland, Turkey, Israel or Burkina Faso, and workshops to enlarge upon themes such as the Sustainable Development Goals, Human and Trade Union Rights issues, or European Union issues.
Marlis Tepe, GEW President, and recently elected EI Vice President, highlighted the importance of international work for educators. "One might think that while you're in a meeting at your local, or at Länder level, the international tier is far away. But let's face it - decisions made on the intergovernmental scale, at the OECD or the UN for example, eventually trickle down to all our members. That's why it's so important to be at the table and engage in dialogue."
Andreas Keller, GEW Vice President, and ETUCE Vice President, reinforced this thought and added: "Educators are reliable partners in the European Sectoral Social Dialogue in Education, and our voices are heard, our issues addressed and our solutions advanced through these structures. We can make real impact through our international bodies, and need to support them forcefully."
The group of union activists was unanimous in acknowledging this importance of international work and used the meeting's final workshop to devise concrete strategies, both in the advocacy and communications spheres, to build capacity and advance knowledge of GEW's international work in their local and regional divisions - and undertaking the union will evaluate in a year's time, at the group's next meeting.