European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

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8 June 2017

Rebuilding trade union power in the age of austerity

Portugal conference

Philippe Pochet, ETUI General Director, opened the international seminar ‘Labour Market: Trends, Power, Actors’, which took place in Lisbon on 7 June, with some challenging questions to the participants about the future of European labour relations.

The seminar formed part of the project ‘Rebuilding trade union power in the age of austerity’ which was organised by the Centro de Estudos Sociais of the University of Coimbra, in collaboration with the ETUI. Pochet talked about the crisis and its impact in different countries, the representativeness of trade unions, collective bargaining coverage, political and social alliances, the European Pillar of Social Rights and Brexit. He also invited the audience to think outside the box and explore innovative solutions for stabilising membership levels.

The debate with representatives of Portugal’s two national confederations, João Torres (CGTP) and Carlos Silva (UGT), was moderated by Ulisses Garrido, Director of the ETUI Education Department. The focus of the discussion was trade union power: is it possible to maintain this power at a time when trade unions are losing members and are seeing a decline in their financial resources? How can unions attract new members when the advantages of membership are not visible? And what can be done to attract young people, as well as those working in the digital economy and in precarious employment?

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