published 17 November 2016 updated 21 November 2016

OECD High-Level Event on the Knowledge Triangle

In Paris, France, from 15-16 September, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) High-Level Event on the Knowledge Triangle took place at the OECD headquarters. It explored how the contribution of higher education and research institutions to innovation can be enhanced, including how to better leverage and integrate the various missions of higher education and public research institutions. Discussion were based on the initial findings of an ongoing OECD project on the Knowledge Triangle with publication of a final report due by end-2016. EI was represented by Louise Hoj Larsen.

TiSA Strategy and Update meeting

From 18-19 September, Public Services International (PSI) and Our World Is Not For Sale organised a Trade in International Services Agreement (TiSA) strategy and update meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. The meeting reviewed the recent TiSA negotiations and identified strategic campaigning points. Louise Hoj Larsen represented EI.

Roundtable on Digital Skills for the European Labour Force

On 20 September in Brussels, Belgium, the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) made  a statement calling for high quality initial training for teachers and life-long learning objectives in the field of ICT.

This is particularly relevant given the launch of the European Commission’s Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition in December 2016. ETUCE is concerned that ICT could be used as a vehicle for education driven by profit only. It is also concerned that workers could be trained exclusively for the labour market without considering lifelong learning and socialisation objectives. It also called on the EU and its Member States to ensure an adequate infrastructure and sufficient funding of ICT in education institutions, good working and learning conditions, and the safety and wellbeing of students and education personnel.

ENABLE2ACT Project Closing Conference

The European Network Against Bullying in Learning and Leisure Environments (ENABLE) is an EU-funded project which aims to tackle bullying with a whole-community approach, helping young people to exercise their fundamental rights at home, in school, class, and community. As associated project partner, ETUCE actively participated in one of the major panels at the closing event held from 21–22 September, Zagreb, Croatia, focusing on the prevention of bullying and hate speech among youth.

EFFECT Third Consortium Meeting

The third Consortium meeting of the European Forum for Enhanced Collaboration in Teaching (EFFECT) project took place in Brussels, Belgium from 22-23 September. Three topics were the focus of attention: inclusiveness, global citizenship education, and supporting the development of institutional strategies to enhance teaching in higher education. The EFFECT project facilitates an exchange of experience in staff development of university teachers and also assesses the feasibility of a European-wide structure that would support the enhancement of university teaching. Louise Hoj Larsen represented EI/ETUCE.

ETUCE meetings on New Skills Agenda for Europe

ETUCE met in September and October to discuss the European Commission’s New Skills Agenda for Europe. On 19-20 September, the Higher Education and Research Standing Committee also addressed the forthcoming RESAVER initiative (a European-level pension fund for mobile researchers) and the development of the Bologna Process. On 23 September, the ETUCE Education Advisory Panel’s experts discussed the New Skills Agenda. And, on 10-11 October, the ETUCE Committee meeting adopted a new ETUCE position entitled Long-term vision on education is a key for economic growth - ETUCE position on the New Skills Agenda for Europe to influence the EU Education Council’s meeting of 21-22 November. Agnes Roman represented EI/ETUCE at these meetings.

OECD – Global Education Industry Summit

More than 30 countries were represented alongside the education industry at the second OECD – Global Education Industry Summit on 26-27 September in Jerusalem, Israel. The EI delegation included David Edwards, Angelo Gavrielatos, and David Robinson, representing EI, along with representatives from the CTF/Canada, AFT/USA, and GEW/Germany. Against a backdrop of calls for deregulation by some Ministers and business leaders to allow for “innovation”, EI demanded appropriate legislative guarantees to protect the rights of students, teachers, and other education workers.

ETUCE participation in the 9th PERC Summer School

From 26-28 September, EI/ETUCE, represented by Valeryia Despahine, took part in the 9th Pan-European Regional Council (PERC) Summer School organised in Frankfurt, Germany, by the International Trade Union Confederation, in cooperation with the branch of the German trade union confederation DGB in Frankfurt and the ILO’s Bureau for Workers’ Activities. The overall objective of the school was to develop union actions to meet the challenges facing the European trade union movement in Central and Eastern Europe with a special focus on mobile workers and refugees. Participants also discussed significant projects to support mobile workers in enforcing their rights to fair wages and decent working conditions, as well as to provide refugees with an orientation on everyday life and labour market in Europe.

European Social Partnership in Serbia

On 27 September, Serbian ETUCE member organisations and representatives from the Serbian Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development met in Belgrade under the umbrella of the joint European Social Partnership project on social dialogue capacity building. Jointly organised by ETUCE and the European Federation of Education Employers (EFEE), the roundtable aimed to assess the challenges facing social dialogue in Serbia’s education sector, due mainly to its recent social dialogue tradition. Education social partners will meet again to work towards a well-functioning education social dialogue in Serbia, which could benefit teachers and education employees, students, and the school community. Paola Cammilli represented EI/ETUCE.

Social Partners’ Consultation on the Annual Growth Survey

On 28 September in Brussels, Belgium,ETUCE contributed to the yearly consultation of social partners on the European Commission’s Annual Growth Survey, as part of the trade union delegation led by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). The Survey results set the priorities for Europe’s employment and economic growth for the year to come. It marks the beginning of the yearly cycle of European economic governance coordination (the European Semester). ETUCE also contributed a paper outlining the policy challenges and priorities for the education sector within the 2017 European Semester. ETUCE identified as priorities the need to increase public investment to boost universal, equitable, public, high-quality education for all, as well as an increased emphasis on the teaching profession, its status, initial training and continuous professional development. These are particularly urgent given the increasing societal demands for educational effectiveness experienced by teaching professionals. Paola Cammilli represented EI.

Support to Teacher Assistants in Slovenia

On 29 September, the ETUCE member organisation in Slovenia, the Education, Science and Culture Trade Union of Slovenia (ESTUS), called for a protest action demanding that the Slovenian government guarantees decent pay and working conditions for pre-school teacher assistants. In the last ten years, despite many attempts by ESTUS to pressure the Government to find appropriate solutions to teacher assistants’ low salaries, the situation has worsened. The ETUCE urged the Slovenian government to fulfil their commitment to ensure quality education through decent working conditions for those providing education in pre-schools and other education institutions.

ESN-SHE Seminar

From 29-30 September in Paris, France, participants from the Education and Solidarity Network (ESN) and the School for Health in Europe (SHE) network met to develop future actions on health and education that they can accomplish together. At the end of their seminar on ‘Improving Health and Well-Being at School’, proposed collaborations included establishing an annual ‘10 Days of Activism for Health, for Education, for Life’ campaign, starting on 7 April, World Health Day, each year. There were also suggestions to: merge the networks into a single, more efficient, visible and effective network; create a joint ‘incubator’ through which the best and most innovative ideas for linking and working on health and education could be identified and amplified; and establish a joint annual Summit. EI was represented by madeleine kennedy-macfoy.

ILO Tripartite Meeting of Experts on Violence against Women and Men in the World of Work

EI was represented at a Tripartite Meeting of Experts from 3-6 October in Geneva, Switzerland. The meeting was convened by the ILO Governing Body to provide guidance, which it will consider at its November 2016 meeting, towards discussion of possible ILO instruments on violence in the world of work by the ILO Conference. The Experts were requested to review existing understanding of what constitutes violence in the world of work, and to examine its gender dimensions, among other things.

Elements to highlight from the Conclusions adopted by the meeting were: (a) a recognition of ‘violence and harassment’ as ‘a continuum of unacceptable behaviours and practices’, with a call for special emphasis on gender-based violence; (b) a definition of ‘the world of work’ that refers not only to a physical working place, ‘but also commuting to and from work, work-related social events, public spaces including for informal workers such as street vendors, and the home, in particular for homeworkers, domestic workers and teleworkers’; and (c) an acknowledgement that domestic and other forms of violence and harassment ‘are relevant to the world of work when they impact the workplace’. The full set of Conclusions adopted by the meeting will be available on the ILO website in due course. madeleine kennedy-macfoy represented EI.

Support for the Introduction of Sex Education and Diversity in Education Institutions in Poland

EI and the ETUCE expressed their strong support with the Polish teacher union, Zwi?zek Nauczycielstwa Polskiego(ZNP), its members, as well as the students and parents who participated in a nationwide “Black Monday” strike on 3 October to protest against a new legislative proposal to ban abortion and limit human and women’s rights in the country. The EI/ETUCE consider abolishing abortion as a serious breach of women’s human rights, undermining and violating the principles of non-discrimination and equality. They urged the Polish Government to support the pillars of modern European society and, together with other stakeholders in education, promote the introduction of sex education as a tool for developing a diverse, equal and open-minded generation enjoying the right to think critically and take decisions freely.

ETUCE Committee’s Autumn Meeting

From 10-11 October, in Brussels, Belgium, the ETUCE Committee convened for the last meeting in its present term of office. A new ETUCE Committee will be elected at the ETUCE Conference in Belgrade, Serbia from 5-8 December 2016. ETUCE President Christine Blower acknowledged the contribution of Martin Rømer, who is retiring as European Director at end-2016. Participants discussed the upcoming ETUCE Conference, including the pre-conference events of the Central Eastern European Network and six workshops on higher education, early childhood education, capacity building on promoting gender equality, continuous professional development, European Social Dialogue, and migration. Members agreed to submit the 2017-2020 draft work programme and two additional resolutions to the ETUCE Conference: one on promoting education as the key to integration and inclusion, and one on the status and recognition of teaching in higher education.

EI, PSI, EPSU, ITF, UIF and UNI Joint Demand to Stop TiSA Negotiations

On 14 October, EI, together with Public Services International (PSI), the European Public Service Union (EPSU), the International Union of Food workers (IUF), the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and UNI, issued a joint press release calling for the talks on the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) to be brought to a halt following the release of leaked documents exposing the European Union’s demands in TiSA negotiations.

Social Partners’ Hearing on the European Pillar of Social Rights

On 14 October in Brussels, Belgium, as part of the trade union delegation led by ETUC,the ETUCE contributed to a social partners’ meeting on the European Pillar of Social Rights. Organised by the European Commission, the meeting aimed to put the social partners’ view at the core of the shaping of the European Pillar of Social Rights. This is part of a Commission initiative to place social rights at the centre of the European Social Model, to counterbalance the effects of strict budgetary and fiscal policies. The ETUCE criticises the strong focus on budgetary targets leading to a deterioration of education quality and reduced investment in public education across Europe. At the meeting, it advocated for public investment to be a priority in the Pillar of Social Rights and for quality inclusive education for all to tackle the transmission of growing inequalities across Europe, as a pre-requisite for a strong Social Europe. Paola Cammilli represented EI.

CESI Symposium on Health and Safety in the Public Sector

On 14 October, in Madrid, Spain, Susan Flocken for EI/ETUCE attended the Health and Safety Symposium of the European Confederation of Independent Trade Unions (CESI). The CESI is an observer to the European Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee in Education. Her presentation focused on outcomes from the Social Partners Promoting Decent Workplaces in Education project.

Symposium on Child Labour

At a symposium on child labour organised by the French association for the ILO in Amiens, France, on 14 October, Samuel Grumiau, representing EI, explained how education unions help to create child labour-free zones through the “Out of work and into school” project in Mali, Nicaragua, Turkey, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. The event highlighted the divergence of opinions between those aiming to eradicate child labour on the basis of ILO Conventions 138 and 182 (unions, ILO, many NGOs), and those favouring a regulation of child labour and in favour of a recent reduction to 10 years old of the legal working age in Bolivia (some NGOs and academics).

ESHA Biannual Conference

From 19-21 October, in Maastricht, Netherlands,ETUCE participated in the biannual conference of the European School Heads Association (ESHA). Attendees explored digitalisation in education, global citizenship, health and safety in schools, and 21st century leadership. Together with ESHA and EFEE, ETUCE is actively engaged in the European Network on School Leadership. Susan Flocken represented EI/ETUCE.