First European Summer University of Attac (ESU)
Seminar on flexicurity and social dismantling in Europe
At the end of this seminar on flexicurity and social dismantling in Europe, we have agreed on a common programme of claims and actions, which is our starting point for future collaboration. It can be further reviewed, improved and completed.
1. Full-time work, on a permanent basis and decently paid (which means : allowing the worker to live) is the type of contract that must be promoted in the frame of an EU employment policy. It is possible that softer measures must be adopted due to technical or social needs, or for the worker’s needs, but they must be the exception to the rule.
2. We support an extensive reduction of working time (RTT, working hours recovery). The flexibility currently imposed by the employers implies in fact a reduction of work, but it is paid and/or supported by the employee. Following the latest experiences that linked flexibility to RTT, we want to establish the conditions for such a measure :
It must be sufficiently extensive to allow for the creation of jobs – 35, 32 or 30 hours according to the situation of each country – however, in the long run it must tend to the lowest possible level
It must be implemented without lowering the wages and the workers’ buying power (at least for low and medium salaries)
It must not come with an increase of flexibility, which would be introduced as a "compensation" to companies
3. We are in favour of defending and promoting a strong and extended public service. On this issue, we insist upon a complete renewal of the practices of public companies :
The main and explicit objective of public service must be to ensure that the population’s social needs are satisfied, particularly those of the worst off ;
There must be a democratic control over it, in particular by trade unions.
4. The concept of professional social security, allowing the worker to maintain his/her social rights and previous salary conditions when he/she changes company, seems interesting. It is a track for a further reflection that would be aimed at analysing all pros and cons.
5. The flexicurity imposed by the European employers and promoted by European (and national) institutions is inacceptable for us. By the way, there are cases or situations where the worker would like to arrange his/her working time or his/her professional situation in order to improve his/her living conditions and to conciliate family life with professional life. We will have to think on how to claim fair rights aimed at meeting these legitimate demands.
6. We are in favour of keeping and strengthening of existing social security systems. Those who don’t have a job must be able to benefit from unemployment allowances. When conditions are added, for example linking unemployment benefits to the search for a job, mostly profits employers. Besides, the people who could not find anything else than precarious contracts (part-time, temporary…) must be able to preserve all their rights to social security and all those who are excluded from the system (young people without income, women without unemployment benefits, illegal immigrants…) must be reintegrated, through a regularisation of their situation.
7. We are favourable to a macro-economic policy whose priority is full employment, as it is defined at point 1 and not according to the will of employers and the Commission, that is as a result of increasing competitiveness.
8. We want a redistributive fiscal policy at the European scale in order to implement these employment policies.
A programme for common action
Following this seminar, we have fixed the objective of continuous reflection, exchange of ideas and solidarity among our national struggles. In particular, we have agreed on the following points :
1. We shall publish the presentations and conclusions of the seminar on Internet. We shall regularly post contributions, documents, references… For the time being, we can use the website of Attac Brussels, in particular the webpages on flexicurity.
2. We shall keep on exchanging experiences both on the struggles organised in the different regions of Europe and on successful trainings, as well as other issues.
3. We are keen on continuing the theoretical and practical reflection on this topic, essential for the social future of the continent. A working group could be formed to pursue the research, based on personal initiatives or on proposals coming from the seminar’s participants.
4. First of all, we want to ensure the promotion and the solidarity, at the European scale, among the struggles that take place against flexicurity, while carrying out a follow-up of those struggles, by drafting supporting reports and by visiting the workers on strike.
5. In the long run, we would like to define common campaigns at the European scale, aiming at going further and at fostering the progress of the social cause in Europe.
6. In this frame, we recall the capital importance of working in cooperation with the trade unions, mass organisations of workers, the main allies of our struggles.
7. Attac Brussels proposes to organise, during the European spring summit that assesses the progress of the Lisbon process, a conference on the topic of social Europe with the European partners, including trade unions. This could also be the occasion to hold a meeting with the seminar’s participants to further strengthen the cooperation and the conclusions exposed above.