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The demonstration started outside the International Trade Union House, passed by the Schuman square in the area of the EU institutions and culminated close to the Parc du Cinquantenaire where several European trade union leaders addressed the demonstrating people. More information can be found on ETUC’s website at . ETUC has also published a special edition of their newsletter on "A New Path For Europe"
50.000 people from 21 European countries took to the streets of Brussels to participate in the large European trade union demonstration organised by ETUC on 4th April 2014 in Brussels. Trade unions from many different sectors and from all over Europe raised their voice against further austerity measures and for investment, quality jobs and equality.
ETUCE joined the rally with its own strong delegation including colleagues from the ETUCE and EI secretariats and several national member organisations. The group marched side by side holding up their key messages to protect and to promote public education in times of rigid budgetary austerity. More ETUCE member organisations came to Brussels following their national confederations to support the manifestation.

Euro Demonstration: 50.000 people demanded new directions for Europe
Icelandic social partners in education end labour dispute with successful result
On 4 April 2014, a new agreement ended the recent conflict between the Icelandic ETUCE/EI member organisation Kennarasamband Islands (KI) and the Icelandic government. In the background of the dispute which lasted for three weeks and culminated in several days of strike of the upper secondary teachers, there was the unions’ demand for a salary increase. Additionally, KI required further financial increases for the adaption to new procedures in work evaluation and to facilitate necessary adjustments in connection with a new high school law which will enter into force in 2015.
Last week, the increasing pressure exerted through demonstrations and walkout showed effects and brought the social partners back to the negotiating table. Now, the successfully concluded agreement covers the demands which were made. However, the additional financial means for the new procedures in higher education will depend on the outcome of a vote in early 2015. If KI’s members will then refuse parts of the agreement connected to the new procedures, the current agreement will expire with immediate effect.
According to the new agreement teachers’ work evaluation will include more areas such as the number and the workload of students and pupils, their background and combination in a group, teaching and learning methods, preparation and teaching hours, paper work, setting of assignments, examination, marking, feedback, competence level, and possibly more aspects.
The agreement is supplemented by statements of the Minister of Education and Culture and the Minister of Finance and Economy reaffirming their commitment. KI is satisfied with this result which also coincided with the end of KI’s congress.

The European Commission has declared that the public consultation is not a referendum on ISDS. Instead, the consultation is aimed at convincing critics that it is necessary to include ISDS in the TTIP by suggesting some modifications to the model. Subsequently, the European Commission announced on 1 April 2014 that it is planning to fund a new international transparency database for ISDS. The European Commission thereby made the case that such a database will increase transparency and accessibility to the public as part of the new UN transparency rules on ISDS.
Criticisms are not only coming from trade unions and civil society, but also from the member states. Both France and Germany have called for dropping the ISDS mechanism pointing out that there is no need for such a mechanism between the EU and US as national courts provide sufficient legal protection. ISDS provisions are controversial as they enable foreign investors to directly sue states before arbitration panels. As a result, foreign investors are given legal rights to challenge any regulatory or policy measure of the host-state it feels violates its rights to access a market. It will likely result in a policy chill because of the extraordinary cost of defending ISDS cases.  Previous ISDS cases raise serious concerns both about the ability of states to maintain domestic regulatory space, but also about the accountability of foreign investors for damage caused by investment operations.

On 27 March 2014, the European Commission finally launched its public consultation on investment protection and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). The deadline for submission will be three months following the date when the consultation is available in all official EU languages. The deadline will be indicated on the consultation webpage when available in all EU languages. The consultation is accompanied by a consultation notice, consultation document and privacy statement. ETUCE is welcoming the public consultation and will encourage all member organisations to contribute to the consultation. ETUCE will prepare a guideline for the public consultation in due time before the deadline. 
The European Commission declares that public consultation is not a referendum
The European Institute for Gender Equality meets Trade Union Representatives - Members of the ETUCE Equality Working Group share their experience with the institute
The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) invited trade union representatives for a cross-sectoral meeting on its premises in Vilnius on 25 March 2014. Among the ETUCE delegation were three members of the ETUCE Equality Working Group: Kounka Damianova, Chair of the Standing Committee for Equality, SEB, Bulgaria, Joan Donegan, IFUT, Ireland and Amaya Martínez de Viergol Lanzagorta, FECCOO, Spain.
The meeting provided both EIGE and the trade unions the opportunity to present their work on mainstreaming gender equality in employment and to exchange good practices with the aim to enhance the cooperation between EIGE and social partners in Europe.
showcased to EIGE how much work trade unions are able to carry out on gender equality in particular as regards collective bargaining. Building on the challenges that European governments face in gender mainstreaming and the lack of implementation at national level, and the EIGE’s Gender Equality Index, the participants discussed different strategies and actions on tackling gender stereotypes, notably ETUCE’s and its member organisations’ work in in this field. The meeting also allowed the union representatives to exchange good practices in the area of women’s entrepreneurship and to debate on Women and the Economy.
The success of this meeting has encouraged EIGE to envisage further meetings with the social partners and ETUC member organisations for 2014 and after, in connection with the priorities of each EU Presidency.
Further information on the institute are available at:

and inclusive growth is working towards policy coherence between the economic and social objectives of the Union. This is something ETUCE welcomes, but has been calling for in a long time by supporting the ETUC campaign “A new path for Europe” and its plan for investment, sustainable growth and quality jobs.
The survey data (from 2012) indicate: that poverty has increased and that nearly 25% of the European population was at risk of poverty or social exclusion; that since 2010 there are 6,7 million more people who live in poverty or social exclusion (an increase in more than 1/3 of the European Member States); that income inequality is growing across and within Member States, particularly in the countries that witnessed the largest increases in unemployment. The data from the report are worrying, but it supports the message that ETUC and its members have been spreading on the need of more social investment for a more sustainable recovery from the crisis. ETUCE participated in the ETUC Euro-demonstration on 4 April 2014, where unions from all over Europe demanded a new and more social direction for Europe. The report highlights this, too, as an important step toward a more sustainable recovery for Europe.  
The full version of the report can be found under the following link:

The Social Protection Committee released the 2013 annual report on the social situation in the European Union named ''Social Europe – many ways, one objective" on 19 March 2014. The report stresses that the social situation in the European Union is not improving while in some countries the situation is even worsening. This clearly shows that the European Union is still not on the right path to a sustainable recovery and that its leaders have failed to protect the European citizens from downturns in the living conditions in ways such as increased poverty, social exclusion and inequality. The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) adopted the conclusions at its meeting on 10 March 2014, stressing the fact that the key factor for achieving the Europe 2020  objectives for smart, sustainable
New report underlines the fact that Europe is still suffering from the crisis
Social workers are more likely to come to work while sick than the average worker in EU28, a recent Eurofound report shows. The report compares working conditions for social workers in kindergartens, schools, youth services, and social care with the EU28 as a whole.
The report presents a mixed picture for the small but steadily growing sector in the European Union. While the social work sector shows some gains in terms of preventing wage cuts during the crisis, a high level of skills and training of workers, and women in management positions, it underachieves in terms of offering less indefinite contracts, fewer full-time positions, and poor health of employees.
As 83% of workers in social work are women, the sector is clearly female-dominated. This is also reflected in leadership positions, as the sector has more female bosses than the EU 28 average. 74% of women and 51% of men report having a female boss, compared to 47% of women and only 12 % of men in EU 28.
The health of social workers has two strands: On the one hand, social workers tend to be less absent from work because of work accidents and report more often that they will be able to do the job at age 60. On the other hand, however, they report more often of poor health and that they work even when they are sick. If these insights are two sides of the same coin or entirely unrelated findings, the report leaves open.
With regard to employee representation at the workplace, the social sector follows the EU28 pattern according to which the probability to have worker representation increases with the number of employees. In comparison to EU28, however, the social sector presents a relatively high presence of worker representation also in the smallest workplaces with less than 10 employees (40%). This means that social workers in small workplaces are almost double as likely to have employee representation as the EU28 average.
The report gives an overview of working conditions, job quality, workers’ health and job sustainability in the social work sector. The sector contains all social work activities, such as child day-care, social work in schools, child and youth services, care for the elderly and the disabled, and all other social work activities that do not involve accommodation. It is based mostly on the fifth European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS), which gathers data on working conditions and the quality of work across 34 European countries.
The full report can be downloaded from the Eurofound website.

Social workers more likely to work while sick
Teaching Profession Now and in Future - Passing on Cultural Values
The Spring ETUCE Committee 2014

On 14-15 April 2014, the ETUCE Committee convened to debate on the major challenges and issues currently at stake in the education sector in Europe. Bringing the future priorities for teacher unions in Europe into focus, the Committee members decided that the ETUCE Special conference on 25-26 November 2014 in Vienna will have the theme “The Future of the Teaching Profession”.

Against this background, the presentation by Ricardo Ferreira from DG Education and Culture on the European Commission’s Opening Up Education communication, which seeks to prize open education resources for innovative teaching approaches, triggered a passionate discussion in favour of quality education, teacher training and working conditions. This cumulated into clear support for the ETUCE statement regarding the EU-US Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations and a call of actions to national teacher unions to request that education be excluded from this transatlantic agreement.

Mr. Christian Welz from EUROFOUND (see picture above) gave a shocking insight into the change caused by the crisis and the EU’s Economic Governance Regime on Wage Setting Mechanisms. In the wake, the committee members endorsed the various actions organised in the frame of the EI/ETUCE campaign “Unite for Education – Better Quality Education for a better world”, e.g. the pledge request towards candidates running for the European Parliament elections.
With regards to actions of solidarity, the ETUCE Committee decided to financially support its Ukrainian member organisation STESU. More details on this decision are to follow.

The Committee also adopted the recommendations on the promotion of healthy and safe working conditions in education in times of the economic crisis and the guidelines on how to prevent early school leaving through the use of ICT in education.

Resulting from the Status of Women Committee, the ETUCE Committee welcomed the organisation of three side-workshops on higher education, equal opportunities and the crisis impact on education, accompanied by an exhibition on teacher unions’ actions in the frame of the Unite for Quality Education campaign. In particular, the ETUCE Committee congratulated the chair of the Status of Women Committee, Gitta Franke-Zöllmer, for her order of merit, the Bundesverdienstkreuz 1. Klasse, which was bestowed upon her by the Federal Republic of Germany for her committed work on gender equality in education.

In the frame of the seminar, the participants visited two VET schools. The first school, HLA Baden, focused on the hotel and tourism sector. The second school, lbs Neunkirchen, is orientated towards the metal sector and industry. This visit was very illustrative and provided an insight into the Austrian VET system. The seminar participants had the opportunity to talk to the students and teachers to learn more about their experiences and concerns.

Both visits were very impressive and showed how important it is to provide a positive environment  betweenteachers and pupils, wll- established contact between schools and industries, and teacher training. The participants also emphasised that the visits evoked new ideas to implement in their countries.

On 7 - 9 April 2014, 25 vocational education and training (VET) experts of ETUCE member organisations from 17 countries met in Vienna for a  ETUCE - ETUI training seminar on The role of the teachers’ trade unions in quality assurance in all forms of Vocational Education and Training.

The seminar focused on the Austrian dual system in vocational education and training which is recognised as one of the most succcessful VET systems in Europe as it contributes to a high youth employment rate. The participants discussed the importance of linking VET programmes to the labour market with a view to decrease unemployment rates in Europe, especially in times of crisis.

Successful: Learning more about the dual VET system in Austria
Teaching Profession Now and in Future - Passing on Cultural Values
KeyCoNet, the European schoolnet’s key competences network, invites teacher, head teachers, parents, students and other education stakeholders to participate in an online public consultation on 21st century skills and competence-based teaching and learning in schools.

The survey exmines which school strategies are used to adopt a competence-based approach, and which obstacles schools encounter. In addition, it looks at which teaching and learning methods students most appreciate engaging in when they develop their competences, and how they are assessed.

KeyCoNet’s public consultation is online until 16 June 2014 and available in 12 EU languages. The public feedback will complement the expert analysis which is  being carried out in parallel, and will be used to further improve and qualify the network’s recommendations for policy and practice. These reommendations are due to be published in October 2014, and to be presented at the KeyCoNet’s final conference in Greece.

Portugal experienced a national financial collapse in 2011, and was the third Euro-zone country to receive a bail-out. In July and August 2011, the new Portuguese government announced cuts on state spending and an increase of austerity measures. According to FNE, the cuts seriously affected the functioning schools, the quality of education and the social support to students and their respective families.

The aim of this action organised by FNE and CEDEFOP was to promote the culture of peer learning, observation, and mutual learning based on the sharing of experiences. Moreover the study visit sought to encourage a discussion about education and how to develop quality approaches, transparency of education and training systems.
ETUCE affiliates from Portugal - FNE (Federação Nacional da Educação) in cooperation with CEDEFOP (European Centre for the Development of Vocational Education and Training) organised a study-visit in Porto (PT) from 24 to 28 March 2014, as part of the EI/ETUCE Campaign Unite for Quality Education.

15 education experts from 13 European countries gathered to discuss the topic of “Social dialogue in the definition and implementation of knowledge, skills and competences”. During the four days, participants had the opportunity to visit companies, colleges, research centres and schools with the aim to learn about the Portuguese experience and share their visions regarding social dialogue and at national level.
Portugal: Trade unions’ role in defining and delivering quality education, FNE-CEDEFOP study-visit on the role of social dialogue
ETUC Women’s Committee, 10-11 April 2014
The women delegates from the national trade union confederations and European trade union federations discussed amongst other topics, the ETUC campaign towards the elections of the European Parliament and the new ETUC Resolution on gender equality. The latter is to be presented for adoption to the ETUC Executive Committee in June this year.

With a clear majority, the delegates elected Mrs Rosanna Ruscito from FIT CISL, Italy, for the post of substitute to the ETUC Women’s Committee Presidium.

ETUCE affiliates will have the opportunity to meet her personally at the upcoming ETUCE seminar on promoting gender equality in teacher unions in Utrecht on 7 May 2014 where Rosanna will be giving a presentation.

Analysing this year’s results of the annual ETUC 8 March survey, it is evident that a change regarding gender equality in trade unions is badly needed, with the female trade union affiliation rising disproportionally to the male affiliation and women remaining underrepresented at leadership level (number of women in trade unions: 19.350,285). The participants welcomed the outcome of the qualitative part of the survey, which showed that trade unions in Europe had focused on trade union action concerning violence against women. It showed an overall positive picture of trade unions engaging in this topic, covering both prevention of workplace and domestic incidents of violent acts against women.
Underlining this result, the presentations from Jane Pillinger, ETUC study on Bargaining for Equal Pay, Christine Jakob, EPSU study on the public services, and Juan Luis Barbolla Casas,  European Commission, confirmed the picture of women being disproportionately represented in leadership and paid affecting other areas of life such as  well-being, family and healthy ageing.

Manifold workshops provided opportunities to collaborate on practices that have improved equality for women and men in teacher unions, and to underline the importance of gender equality in education.

Treating participants to an intermezzo of folk music by Irish students in the decorative Dublin town hall on the second day, the conference culminated in high spirits with the participants jointly raising their voices in singing at the close of the conference.

Read more on the Conference website>>>

400 participants convened in Dublin on 7 – 9 April 2014 for (e)quality education. Following the conference motto, from words to action, female leaders in education and teacher unions from around the world gathered to tackle some of the biggest challenges for gender equality in education.

The conference successfully highlighted the impact that quality education for girls and women not only makes on improving the lives of individual students, but on how it strengthens families, communities and society as a whole.
Irish teacher unions host Education International’s second World Women’s Conference
ETUCE Committee adopts the support package to Ukraine

-          The dissemination of information on developments in Ukraine to all member organisations of EI worldwide
-          The continuous advocating in international fora for the inclusive democratic development of Ukraine through an open and transparent social dialogue and to highlight the importance of education as a mean to stabilise and develop democracy in Ukraine
-          To encourage and support the participation of representatives of our Ukraine members in conventions and events organised by EI/ETUCE and its member organisations
-          To support STESU financially in relocating and re-establishing normal office functions, since the union’s central office was destroyed during the confrontation with the police forces
-          To assist STESU and VPONU through capacity building projects by setting up both multilateral and bilateral projects to be coordinated by EI to ensure complementarity and avoid overlapping

The ETUCE Committee expressed strong solidarity with the ETUCE members and their affiliates in Ukraine and unanimously supported the call to provide moral, political and financial support to our colleagues.

The Committee endorsed the concrete actions which were suggested by the secretariat, being :