For a more inclusive Europe: the role of workers' organisations

From 10 to 13 October 2019, an international seminar on "For a more inclusive Europe: the role of workers' organisations", was held in Campo Maior (Portugal), sponsored by FIDESTRA in cooperation with EZA and with financial support from the European Union,.

45 representatives of workers' organisations from Portugal, Spain, Italy, Poland, Romania, Hungary took part in the seminar, with the involvement and presence of workers from the Campo Maior community.

The municipality of Campo Maior is located on the border with Spain, an inland area in the Alentejo region, a region with a low population density, with an aging population, a regional unemployment rate that is above the national average, with a weak economic structure and essentially with small and medium-sized companies. There is a primary sector that is heavily based on seasonal workers, especially migrant workers.

In this regional context, the municipality of Campo Maior is an “oasis” in terms of unemployment and demographic growth (of the 47 municipalities in the region it is the only one with positive economic growth) and the work situation shows an exemplary situation with regard to workers' rights, particularly in medium-sized and large companies, which are located in the municipality and which, in addition to the factories, are also based in this municipality.

In view of these circumstances, FIDESTRA organised the International Seminar and drew the attention of the participants to the projects that were developed to achieve a more inclusive Europe, and heightened in this working context the role of the workers' organisations and the social component.

The knowledge and analysis of these projects on-site made it possible to understand how equal opportunities and access to the labour market are possible. Social protection, education and access to goods and services, the central theme of the project, is an easily accessible reality if it is possible to implement true social dialogue.

Finally, the exchange of good practice promotes the multiplier effect, which is fundamental to the consolidation of the main objectives proposed by the European Pillar of Social Rights, and awareness that EZA member organisations are responsible through their contribution to the sustainable and effective development of the European Social Dialogue.


Importance of the seminar - general aspects

We are experiencing the biggest migration movements since World War II. 50 years after people landed on the moon, the countries and citizens of Europe and the rest of the world are at the level of a time 500 years ago, i.e. at the beginning of the Fernão de Magalhães world tour that is now being celebrated. They are still not prepared to see the extent of these migratory movements. Although globalisation is a reality that began five centuries ago, with a particular surge at the end of the last century, and although it is one of the most indelible features of the 21st century, and although the right to travel is widely recognised, every citizen has the right to settle where he wants to live.

The fundamental right to access to work, the acquired right of citizens to look for work at a global level, is often questioned with caution and resistance by those who legislate, i.e. by citizens who question it because of social and cultural problems. This is also the case in all so-called host countries.

The concern of some organisations is great to fully understand, discuss, and talk about these and other difficulties in the world of work, and to find ways to integrate workers, accompanied by the remaining family members who had to leave the places where they were born, to work in the community of Europe.

The aim oft he seminar was discussing, examining and arguing the different points of view to find and propose ways and solutions to make Europe more sensitive and better prepared and to make life easier for everyone regardless of origin or other circumstances.

Opening session: For a more inclusive Europe; the importance of promoting equal opportunities in access to the labour market

During the opening session, Fernando Moura e Silva emphasised current social problems and the influences of migrant movements in the lives of Europeans. The search for a better life and livelihood for the family has led to an increase in migratory movements. Europe is there for everyone, it has to be for everyone, but there are many problems that need to be solved.

Migration is currently taking place due to economic and social problems in the context of peace, but mainly of war outside Europe. Social dialogue is an essential element so that, on the one hand, the host societies can understand the problems that cause the exodus and, on the other hand, how to best counter and promote the integration of those who do so.

Piergiorgio Sciacqua, Co-President of EZA and 1st Vice President of PICM (MCL), emphasized that the choice of a peripheral region and a village in deep inside Portugal is the best way to understand the real difficulties of those who live in these places.

Ricardo Pinheiro dealt with the question of public administration careers and the rating system for employees in public administration. The most important thing is to choose someone who has the skills necessary for the job to be filled. Motivation plays an important role in employee performance.

The subsequent discussion dealt, among other things, with the difference between party political and ideological positions, the projects in Campo Maior, aging as a factor for difficulties in accessing the labour market, immigrants and equal access to the labour market.

Vanda Alegria, City Councilor of the Campo Maior municipality, described the Campo Maior Solidário project and explained the reasons for its existence and its effect on the environment. The seminar participants visited the location where the municipality of Campo Maior is currently developing the project in full operation so that the functionality of the project could be checked.

Topic: For a more inclusive Europe: the promotion of equal opportunities (shown using the example of Grupo Nabeiro - Delta Cafés), Rui Nabeiro, President of Grupo Delta Cafés

Rui Nabeiro's constant motivation was to always want to make his dreams come true. Taking responsibility for the families who worked with him, doing things locally, i.e. taking on social responsibility in Campo Maior, doing business in a sustainable way, shaped his actions. From an early age, he placed great emphasis on the education of young people and adults, as he considered this important to improve the lives of people and companies.

He took the initiative to promote the education centre, to employ the children of all employees, to undertake specific training measures and partnerships with universities and to promote other levels of education.

He has always attached great importance to the social component in the workplace. Everyone understands that the use of new technologies is necessary, but Rui Nabeiro made a point of ensuring that none of the workers were replaced by machines. There is always room for everyone, because expansion is a constant. He never fired anyone because he used technology and robotics.

The company's marketing is committed to promoting this constant growth. Quantity and quality are the secret, promotion and growth with an ever better product.

It emphasised the fact that Rui Nabeiro has very good relationships with all of his employees and knows the names of everyone, more than five hundred. There was talk of love for your country and never leaving, which shows that you can succeed even when the infrastructure is minimal or non-existent.

Topic: "For a more inclusive Europe:" Associação Coração Delta "- Project for social responsibility - Nabeiro Group, Social Solidarity Association

Dionísia Gomes from the Associação Coração Delta explained organisational matters, goals and tasks. Among other things, Coração Delta promotes children's ideas to help change the world. These practices and experiences have already taken on national and international dimensions.

Round table: “For a more inclusive Europe - exchange of good practices - national examples that promote European social dialogue:

Portugal - Eduarda Castro - SINDEL

Spain - Juan José Morente - USO

Italy - Piergiorgio Sciacqua - MCL

Poland - Beata Cichy - Solidarnosc

Laboratory - Abat Oliba University - CEU - Olga Lasaga - Spain

Eduarda Castro first detailed an overview of today's working hours. He stressed the role of unions in companies and the importance of defending workers' rights. He also spoke about the new opportunities for a union to have an impact on the world of work and provide new answers to today's problems. He emphasised gender equality in both work and pay.

Juan José Morente said that his organisation has been supporting migrants' social and labour adoption processes for 17 years. From 1998 to 2018, around 6,386,000 immigrants came to Spain.

Migrants are human first and must be treated as such. The project has grown to seven provinces.

The project is being developed in three areas:

1 - Orientation and job search for unemployed migrants;

2 - Free legal advice for the immigration processes;

3 - Raising awareness of the problems of migrants towards Spanish society.

The goals are:

To improve conditions in general; Training, imparting knowledge of the labour markets, developing entrepreneurial projects, networking information and people, adapting to the new rules and new techniques of work development.

Principles and values that characterise the organization:

- Admission in different steps and forms to solve all immigration steps.

- Respect for the customs and different mentalities of migrants as long as they do not violate human rights.

- Moral and  r affective-emotional support that is always provided to increase motivation and self-confidence in the continuous process of job registration.

The collaboration develops tools for networking and promotes specific cooperation agreements with other companies.

Beata Cichy spoke of trust in the trade unions, in people who live in isolated small towns, like in some places in the Alentejo.

Trade unions have a great responsibility to improve and understand the conditions of the population. 1.5 million Ukrainians work in Poland. Solidarnosc has been assisting ¡ these immigrants for some time in order to fully integrate them into Polish society.

Olga Lasaga confirmed the university is working on several projects to accommodate young people who are socially excluded, especially from Mediterranean countries. One project involves countries that want to employ musicians and artists and developing local projects for these elements to provide them with jobs. Now a new programme for the introduction of young men "MENA" has been started through the development of audiovisual and technological programmes. There are other projects to create funding solutions and to promote entrepreneurship, especially among young people, which are working on awareness-raising campaigns such as promoting gender equality.

Conclusion: Topics are developed in multidisciplinary teams, since it is important to involve all social associations so that the projects are continuously operated and expanded and above all to create jobs and achieve the goals set.

Piergiorgio Sciacqua spoke about the current time in Europe regarding migrants. He emphasised that the Berlin Wall had fallen, but there are now many more walls that have been built since. The solution is not to let everyone in without strategy and without control. The increase in populist and nationalist currents is currently rampant and this is causing problems. It must be attractive to stay and work in your own country.

Closing session: "There is still a lot to be done for a more inclusive Europe"

Carmen Quintanilla - Senator in Spain, sent a document to the seminar that was read and welcomed by everyone. She highlighted the importance of women in the world of work and the discrimination that is still a reality in many countries and companies. Gender equality and equal pay for men and women must be a priority for all countries in the European Union and around the world.

Final visit: Visit to companies/institutions that support the promotion of equal opportunities in their practice and CSR: Coffee Science Center and Adega Mayor

Two examples of modernity and entrepreneurship were chosen, two companies where inclusion and equality take place. These are two good examples that could be anywhere, but are likely to be close to a large urban centre. This is not the case here, and it is therefore important to highlight these two cases as good examples.