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26 May 2016

Transatlantic Social Dialogue 2016: how trade unions can organise migrants and young workers

Transatlantic social dialogue 2016

The state of the labour movement in the US and Europe and the efforts of trade unions to organise migrant workers and attract more young workers were the big themes of this year’s Transatlantic Social Dialogue meeting, organised by the European Trade Union Institute, Hans Böckler Stiftung and the Worker Institute of Cornell University.

The Transatlantic Social Dialogue (TSD) is a series of annual meetings that bring together academic researchers and trade union leaders from the United States and Europe (especially Germany and Britain) as well as the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). These meetings promote a better understanding of the partners' current research projects and needs, and have resulted in important research partnerships between participants and other organisations.

The TSD 2016 took place in Brussels from 22 to 24 May. American and European researchers met with the leadership of the ETUC and exchanged ideas and strategies for developing solutions to the growing social, economic and political challenges facing workers and trade unions. A keynote speech was given by Luca Visentini, the General Secretary of the ETUC, about the current and future prospects for the transatlantic cooperation between the ETUC and AFL-CIO and other trade union confederations on the American continent. Peter Scherrer, ETUC Deputy General Secretary, also participated in the debates, alongside ETUC Confederal Secretaries Liina Carr and Thiébaut Weber.

This year’s TSD focused on two themes in particular. The discussions on the first day centred on refugee migration in Europe and how to organize undocumented and migrant workers. ETUI trainer Richard Bellera Kirchhoff gave a presentation about the ways in which Spanish trade unions reach out to help migrant workers.

On the second day, the priorities and influence of young workers within trade unions and specific union campaigns, such as the Young & United campaign in the Netherlands, were analysed and debated. The Dutch campaign especially demonstrated how trade unions are able to mobilize and engage young people through direct and creative actions that tackle the concrete issues that concern them.

Read the tweets related to this event.

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