“Teachers in Europe: mobility and qualifications, recruitment, retention and remuneration” was the theme of the first joint EI Pan-European Conference/ETUCE General Assembly.
The theme was introduced by Haldis Holst of UEN, Norway, and John Bangs of the NUT, UK.
John Bangs said there is a high need for high status teachers: “A society that doesn’t respect its teachers will not invest in education.” Haldis Holst also introducing the theme, made the same central assertion: “Teachers should be valued, respected and invested in, and they must be given good salaries and time to do their jobs well.”
Opening of the conference
Participants were welcomed to the conference by Christoph Heise, GEW, Germany, and EI Pan-European Vice-President. He commented on the initial three years of operation of the new structure in Europe and pointed to the successful work which had been undertaken as well as some of the difficulties which had been encountered.
EI President, Thulas Nxesi, addressed the opening session of the conference. He placed the work of the organisation in Europe in its global context.
Nxesi offered delegates a thoughtful keynote address, placing in a global context the European work on resistance to the GATS, advocacy for enhanced early childhood education, support for global campaigns, promoting quality teacher training programmes, and defence of human and trade union rights and gender equality.
On the future of public education and teacher trade unionism, Nxesi discussed two opposing approaches: the “human capital view of education” so dominant among the powerful in government, the OECD and the corporate world, and the “social democracy vision” of education as a social-cultural process in which alternatives to the dominant ideology are not only possible, but embraced.
The opening session was also addressed by Gordon Clark, representing the European Commission. He outlined the current aspects of education services on which the Commission was focusing. He referred, in particular, to Lifelong Learning and early childhood education.
Ronnie Smith, General Secretary, Education Institute of Scotland, was elected the new President of the Pan-European Structure
In a closely fought two-candidate election Ronnie Smith emerged as the winner by over four hundred votes. In his address he thanked organisations for their support and committed himself to working with organisations in Europe in the implementation of the agreed Action Programme and to further developing co-operation between EI Europe and ETUCE.
In the vice-presidential elections there were seven candidates for six seats. The following were elected Paul Bennet, UCU, UK, Odile Cordelier, SNES, France, Kounka Damionova, SEB, Bulgaria, Jorgen Lindholm, Lararfurbundet, Sweden, Galina Merkulova, ESEUR, Russian Federation and Ulrich Thoene, GEW, Germany.
Country Seats on the Pan-European Committee and ETUCE Executive Board
There were elections in only four of the country constituencies for seats on the regional committee/executive board. The elections were in Belgium, Croatia, Hungary and Poland. The following is the full list of those elected to country seats at the conference:
The next Committee/Executive Board meeting will consider the filling of vacancies where no nominations were received at the conference.
ETUCE General Secretary Re-appointed
At the first meeting of the ETUCE Executive Board, which was held immediately after the conference, Martin Romer was re-appointed to the position of General Secretary of ETUCE for a further three-year term.
New ETUCE Treasurer appointed
George Vansweevelt, the outgoing ETUCE Treasurer has retired. Tributes were paid to his work for ETUCE over the past decade at the Assembly. Walter Dresscher, AOb, Netherlands was appointed to succeed him at the first meeting of the new Executive Board after the conference.
New EI/ETUCE Bureau
The new EI/ETUCE Bureau will consist of the newly elected President and Vice-Presidents, the new Treasurer of ETUCE, the General Secretary of ETUCE and the EI Chief Regional Coordinator for Europe.
Conference adopts Coordinated Action Programme and Budgets
The conference adopted unanimously the coordinated Action Programme which was presented to it by the outgoing Bureau. The ambitious programme provides for better coordination of a range of policy development and implementation activities during the next triennium.
The conference also adopted budget proposals which see no increase in the rate of supplementary dues for the EI Pan-European section of the structure, which is 7.082 % of the world dues, other than that due to increases in the world dues. A small increase in the rate of dues for ETUCE is envisaged which will bring it up to 25% of the EI world dues.
Conference supports colleagues in Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary and Rumania
The conference adopted resolutions of support for member organizations in a number of countries where they are struggling to obtain better pay and conditions for their members. The conference recognized the difficulties which the organizations are having in fighting for improvements for their members in hostile political and economic climates.
Teachers foster values
On the final day of the Luxemburg conference, UNSA Education (France) brought forward an urgent resolution denouncing “the rise of xenophobic, racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic trends in many European countries”. It expressed concern about the election of “extreme right-wing advocates who are now attempting to influence government policies through themes that are dangerous for democracy”. And it affirmed: “teachers foster values such as equality, solidarity and brotherhood. These values are in opposition to hatred, exclusion and racism.” The resolution was passed unanimously.
Review of operation of Pan-European Structure initiated
The conference adopted a proposal for a review of the operation of the Pan-European Structure which was made by the outgoing bureau. The proposal requested that the Pan European Conference/General Assembly: (i) mandates the Committee/Executive Board to establish a Special Committee to undertake a review of the operation of the Pan-European Structure; (ii) decides that this Special Committee should consider all aspects of the implementation of the Structure, including coordination of activities, the efficiency and effectiveness of the Structure, and the secretariat and other practical arrangements; (iii) decides that the Special Committee should also examine the appropriateness and scope of the current Statutes/By-Laws and recommend appropriate amendments, as it believes necessary: (iv) decides that, in preparing its recommendations, the Special Committee should have regard to the implications of the decisions of the EI World Congress in July, 2007, for the operations of the Pan-European Structure; (v) decides that the Special Committee should report back to an extraordinary Conference/Assembly of the Pan-European Structure in the first half of 2008; (vi) decides that the Special Committee should consist of the President of the Pan-European Structure, one of the Vice-Presidents nominated by the EI/ETUCE Bureau, five others nominated by the Committee/Executive Board, taking into account gender balance and regional dispersal, the EI Chief Regional Coordinator for Europe and the General Secretary of ETUCE.
The Committee/Executive Board at its subsequent meeting established the special review committee which will begin its work in the new year.