What is the material already existing at the EU level ? (directives concerning the abolishment of the compulsion of fixed-term contracts jobs)
How will the information we are going to collect enable us to produce our own material ?
We have to classify our questions:
- What is our definition of job insecurity? What about its evolution since the 70s? When have labour markets started to dissolute?
- who are the people concerned by job insecurity and poverty? What kind of experiences?
We can think of different sectors of economy: food industry, building trade, shipping, media and advertising, computing, private services as well as public services. We can think of women, young people, immigrants also. We don't merely aim at looking at the statistics, the working conditions, and the possibilities of resistance, the forms of self-organisation. We also want to develop more links with some other networks (the Worldwide March of the Women and its European section; migrants networks, trade-unions networks, including students unions...) in order to develop a better understanding of their demands and bring our struggles together.
- What kind of casual work ? What kind of contracts is it linked to? Part-time work, fixed-term contracts, jobs for the young, volunteer work, "»illegal«" work, interim work, private employment companies... ? What about the wages? Poor workers.
- Forced labour programmes: level of social benefits, wages of an insecure worker; the attempts to lower social benefits prepare the development of low wages. Work / Non-work: possible bridges ? Job insecurity, poverty: what are the borders ?
- The role of State as a contractor, a legislator, a medium between the social actors (employment agreements)
- Is it possible to organize ourselves collectively? What about trade-unions rights?
It does seem necessary that we produce our own material. How? With whom? What kind of actions can we think of?
The struggle against job insecurity and poverty is a trade-unionist struggle as well. What are the consequences?
We must also discuss the question of employment: its content, its conditions, its distribution.
Frank Slegers (Euromarch - Belgium) has offered to gather written surveys and papers and to synthesize them.
As secretary of this commission, I will keep everybody informed about the written documents I receive, and I will try to systematise this materiel before April.
I think we should aim at producing for the assembly in Brussels a document of more or less 20 pages A4 (this is rather short) with four components:
- an opinion about the main tendencies in the European labour market, more precisely concerning the twins unemployment - insecure employment;
- a description of significant examples in different countries illustrating these tendencies;
- positions taken by social movements, unions, political parties, etc...
- a description of experiences of resistance and struggle;
This document should be available at the end of November in the different languages, to help participants to prepare the December assembly. This means we should finish the writing of this document in October.
The final document could and should be rather short, but to write a paper which matches reality, we will have to digest a lot of material, and take the time to discuss the meaning of figures and facts.
We should not take appearances for reality too quickly. I propose to have a lot of exchanges by mail.
I also suggest to ask research workers for their help, either to give us documents or to give us their opinion. I was thinking for example of Michel Husson.
Finally, I propose to establish a European Prize of the unemployed and insecure workers for the worst practice, which would be awarded every spring on the occasion of the European spring summit (Lisbon process). The Prize could be one kilo of rotten tomatoes, to be thrown at the government building where this worst practice has been conceived.
It is very important to give Frank all the information and remarks you find about »bad practices« forced upon unemployed and insecure workers.
Report: struggle for social rights and a guaranteed income
The EU Charter of the Fundamental Rights has not been included in the treaty BUT nothing is planed to improve it, and it seems that it will become the preamble of the EU Constitution. This decision is to be taken at the summit of Laeken-Brussels.
We have then taken the decision to fight this infernal Machine; we have taken the decision to make our demand heard, and therefore have adopted the following resolution:
We ask that the Declaration of Laeken-Brussels states that the rights to benefits, written in the national legislation, have not been included in the Charter, and that it may lead to their juridical disappearance; that the EU cannot take this risk considering the new competitive context of the euro zone. Therefore a new process of integration of these rights must be defined, to prevent poverty from increasing.
We ask that the preamble of the Constitution starts with the statement of the »founding principle of harmonization of living standards and working conditions«. This principle from the Treaty of Rome (art 117) was cancelled because of the necessity of competitiveness instigated by the Single European Act and the treaties of Maastricht, Amsterdam… and Nice.
The clear and complete assertion of this principle would allow the recognition of our European demand of a guaranteed income, defined by the coordinations fighting against unemployment, job insecurity and exclusion; these coordinations have defined , according to the wealth of the countries, the levels of income under which it is unacceptable to fall. These levels represent 50 % of the GDP/PPD per head (Gross Domestic Product and Purchasing Power Standard)
Today, we have to decide how we will carry on with our struggle.
We also have to bring together our demands concerning the Charter and our demand of the right to a guaranteed income. The tables we saw during the meeting show the differences of minimum incomes and GDP between the EU countries. It varies from 32 600 euros in Luxemburg to 9600 euros in Portugal; if you look to some candidate countries, you even go down to 6220 euros in Estonia.
The first date on our schedule is the summit of Stockholm, which will take place in March. One year after Lisbon, the discussions will regard the standards of full employment and the implement of the social agenda. As Europe wants to play the game of transparency, we will take the opportunity on the 23 March to reassert our demands and to ask for a public and national debate concerning the Charter and the guaranteed income, in all the countries and all the cities we are in.
The German group of the European Marches against unemployment, job insecurity and exclusions has decided of a day of action for the social rights and for a decent basic income on the 23rd March, during the EU summit of Stockholm, where the Heads of State and Government have to take initiatives about the »Active Social State«.
The proposal is to organize on this day a European action with all the components of the Assembly of the Unemployed and Insecure Workers.
The 23 of March appears to be the right day to start a campaign to inform people, and to reassert our demand of a guaranteed income (50% GDP). As mobilization is quite a difficult matter at the moment, we will have to be symbolic. Therefore we could gather in front of a symbolic place, in as many places as possible. Our objective would be to show everywhere the same image, so that it would clearly appear that all our demands converge to claim a level of income under which it must be impossible to fall. We think of being the actors of some sort of »living pictures«, giving the amount, in EURO, of the social minima (when they exist!) in all the different EU countries. We have to find a slogan (what is your own misery, in Euros ?) -any other suggestion is welcome!!- and we also have to spread our common demand, according to the wealth of every country.
Report: media and finances
We are looking for subsidies to organize the Assembly of Brussels (trips, lodging, rooms, translations). If we do not obtain any, each country will have to pay for its participation, as usual. The question of the creation of an organization, with a legal European status has been suggested.
A team dealing with the media, both locally, nationally and at the European level, has been created around Gitti Goetz (email@example.com) and Hugo Braun (firstname.lastname@example.org) . The first event will be the European day of action on the 23 March.
Assembly of the Unemployed
Meetings 17/18th february