The leaders of the trade unions confederations, members of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) from the Visegrád countries – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – met in Prague on 7th October 2013 for their annual meeting. It was attended also by Józef Niemiec, Deputy General Secretary of the ETUC. This year the leaders debated the present economic and social situation in individual countries with special attention to the impacts of the crisis on industrial relations.

            Trade union leaders of Visegrád countries discussed also topics connected with the World Day for Decent Work (WDDW) organised every year on 7th October by the International Confederation of Trade Unions. In this context the growing extent of precarious work was pointed out, which immediately and daily harms workers and in the long term negatively influences labour market and makes trade union activities more difficult. Therefore they demand that their national governments and social partners together make steps to stop the existing:

–     one-sided pressures on labour flexibility, the result of which is social dumping and increase in numbers of working poor;

–     reducing labour costs (especially through reducing wages and social security contributions);

–     worsening of working conditions and reduction of minimum labour standards and labour protection;

–     increasing numbers of self-employed, often false. The aim of these unfair labour relations is to reduce labour costs especially by not paying contributions to social security for these persons. However it is not taken into account that this raises the risk of very poor pensioners in the future;

–     growth of other atypical forms of labour contracts and such forms of employment as for instance is the agency work, which increase imbalances between employers and employees with social and psychological consequences;

–     growth in numbers of employees who unwillingly or under pressure accept precarious forms of work;

–     reforms causing deterioration in quality of protection by social security systems, which already now in some cases cease to be able to secure adequate protection for ever bigger groups of people with unsecure prospects to find permanent and quality jobs and to have protection in illness or old age;

–     growth of unemployment, especially of young people, which becomes a social and economic time bomb and threatens with further radicalisation and polarisation of the society, and similarly of quite a large group of people in pre-retirement age, where the more profound retraining or mobility is difficult;

–     increasing violations of workers’ and trade union rights;

–     endangering of effective social dialogue and collective bargaining;

–     weakening of democracy, of workers’ and civil society participation in governance of public affairs in practice.

Thus on the World Day for Decent Work the trade unions of Visegrád countries, together with other trade unions throughout Europe and the world, demand guarantees of decent work for all, as defined by the International Labour Organisation. In European context it means also the documents of the Council of Europe and the EU, especially the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The trade unions of Visegrád countries reject the exemptions from this Charter.

            The participants of the meeting believe that these developments can be influenced positively only through efficient steps consistently based upon solidarity, observation of human – and thus also social and trade union – rights.

            Trade unions of Visegrád countries join the ETUC campaign for pushing through the demands contained in its Social Compact for Europe aiming at recovery of economic growth, fair distribution of newly created values for the benefit of workers, creation of quality jobs and prevention of cuts in public finances and far-reaching anti-social reforms of pension systems, health care, social services, education, etc. Also in the framework of this campaign it is necessary to prevent breaking up of the fundaments of solidarity and social cohesion, growth of unemployment, poverty and social exclusion and overall reduction of living standards of majority of citizens.

            Trade unions of the Visegrad countries express their deep concern over the recent communication of the European Commission “REFIT – Fit for growth”, which goes against the will of workers, wage and salary earners, to further not deepen the social dimension of the European Union.

            Trade unions of Visegrád countries will appeal to their members and other voters to make their decisions in the elections to the European Parliament next year in the spirit of this campaign.

            Trade unions of Visegrád countries in their countries and on the EU level have come up with a number of concrete proposals in belief that many corrections of present unfavourable developments can be achieved by active economic policies, so that the impacts of the crisis on living standards of population were the smallest possible and at the same time the competitiveness of the producers, and thus of the EU, increased in corresponding way.

            The participants of the meeting express their solidarity to all actions on national but also on European level for pushing through their and other joint demands of trade unions.

Prague 7th October 2013