Efficient communication strategies for Trade Unions II - Campaigning

A Seminar titled „Efficient communication strategies for Trade Unions II - Campaigning” has been organized by MOSZ (Munkástanácsok Országos Szövetsége) from 11 to 12 April 2019 in Budapest / Hungary in co-operation with TUC NESAVISNOST and with the support of EZA and of the European Union. The seminar was part of the EZA special project for workers' organisations in the Western Balkans “Strengthening social dialogue – shaping European integration”.

The event followed the Seminar on communication held in April 2018. This year we were not only expansively approaching the topic but were discussing exact action plans taking into account those factors, which trade unions can effectively use in the current media and political environment when executing a trade union campaign.

The Seminar was attended by 33 representatives of workers’ organisations from Hungary, Serbia, Czech Republic, North-Macedonia and Romania. Imre Palkovics, the president of MOSZ has opened the event by saying: The cooperation between MOSZ and TUC NESAVISNOST has a long history, numerous successful projects have been realized, the Seminars supported by EZA have developed a real, living connection between the two organisations, there is a constant exchange of information especially with regard to the Vojvoda section of the trade union and MOSZ. This is a real partnership, since us as well receive lot of information and idea from our Serbian colleagues, which can be built into the trade union work. The future still holds challenges for us since Serbia joining the European Union will further put the question of labour mobility on the agenda, for which a common preparation is needed. Imre Palkovics added: Hungary is interested at the soonest EU membership of Serbia and we are available at all times for our Serbian colleagues concerning relevant questions.

Dragan Milanovic, vice-president of TUC NEZAVISNOST added: strategy is a military expression, a Greek word and was originally used in warfare, the art of winning a war, meant the mobilization and supply of the troops. He thereby thanked for “introducing him to the army”. He said: this time he suggests a more serious form of the cooperation, which is the forming of an action plan that shows real results.

After the introduction of participants Tamás Lánczi, political scientist, the director of the XXIst Century Institute held his presentation, in which he explained the seven-box-structure of campaigning strategies. The structure of political election campaigns can be well used for trade unions, since here – as well as in every democratic institution – there are candidates and for trade unions it is a primary interest to elect the most suitable candidate for leading the organisation.

The seven box includes: 1. assigning a campaign manager (it is important, that the campaign manager cannot be the same person as the candidate) 2. campaigns must always be proceeded by research: qualitative and quantitative research as well as strengths and weaknesses of the opponent are important to measure 3. planning advertisements (voluntary and paid ads) 4. developing press connections 5. planning timing 6. searching for coalition box, alliances 7. developing creative solutions.

From the comments of the participants it was clear, that trade unions are commonly not using any election campaign strategy, members usually get low-to-minimum information on the candidates for leading positions. It isn’t common, that candidates were truly making any campaigning activities and since members doesn’t know the new candidates well, they often rather elect an already existing leader or if he / she leave the organisation, they vote for someone recommended by them.

After, Dragan Milanovic, the vice-president of TUC NESAVISNOST, who himself is active in the field of communication presented a case study: he showed a T-shirt prepared for the 1st of May on which a QR code was printed, that lead to a link playing an advertisement video, that showed the main goals of TUC NESAVISNOST in an amusing way.

Zoltán Kiszelly, expert on campaigning approached trade union campaigns from a political advisory point of view. From this perspective he found it important, that behind all trade union campaigns, there should always be a real goal and event. He thought targeted pressure on employers to be the most important. He reported the success of the strike happened in the Hungarian site of AUDI factory, which initiated an avalanche on different sites of car manufacturers in Hungary. As replying to one of the questions he said, that he does not see any chance that a strike or any other pressure in the public- and publicly owned companies sector would succeed. In his opinion within these sectors the lack of labour could force the employer to the change of work circumstances and wage-increase. At this point trade unions being prepared and possessing the right professional documents can take an important place of an ‘interest broker’.

The presentation was followed by Cedomir Erdelj, the president of the Youth Section of TU Vojvodanska Bank sharing his experiences.

The participants were debating upon the applicability of social media tools, especially Facebook, in the trade union work. One of the colleagues reported, that they actively use Facebook for organising groups and communities, it is efficient in quick communication and interactivity. Others think, that it worsens the quality of media: now everyone can believe him/herself to be a reporter only because they post on Facebook. An opinion has been formed, that Facebook is in private possession, an American owner, and therefore defines its content itself, which generally worsens the independency of the media. Concerning the independency of the media it has been said, that nowadays we experience the political commitment of every media product through its owner, so the previously mentioned free and independent media does not exist anymore. Trade unions need to define their interests and the potential media-collaborators on different topics.

Erzsébet Tóth-Bátori, the president of the Vojvoda County Committee has reported on trade union campaigns in multicultural and multi-ethnical communities.

Besides Gergely Szabácsik, expert on online marketing has informed the participants on the newest online marketing trends and prices, which can be used for trade union campaigns.

Dr. Iván Sibalin head of department of the state secretary for strategic analysis, Prime Minister’s Office held his presentation on the methods for state strategy building as well as on maintaining contact with trade unions.