Against a background of decreasing trust among workers in the European integration project, more than 100 trainers, education experts and trade union representatives attended this year’s Education Days to discuss the ETUI’s worker education strategies.
The annual Education gathering (‘EDUDays’), organised with the help of the German DGB, was held this year in Berlin from 19-20 November. Its overall thematic focus was the rise of populist, anti-immigration and anti-EU parties that, in the wake of the European Union’s socially destructive austerity policies, are proving increasingly attractive to workers.
Guidelines for the discussion were provided by an academic research project on changing worker attitudes towards Europe conducted by Rainer Gries and Martin Roggenkamp. Alongside increasing scepticism among workers, these authors observed a simultaneously growing interest in the EU, in the light of which, they report, the demand for further educational opportunities has increased.
Sociologists from the Lisbon University Institute, presenting a similar study on workers’ EU political alignments during the Great Recession, pointed out that manual workers and less educated workers especially seem to have lost faith in Europe, having increasingly come to see the EU as ‘part of the problem’. Unions ‘should invest in new political alliances to fight for a Social and more democratic Europe’ was the researchers’ concluding recommendation.