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project on promoting the potentials of the European sectoral social dialogue in education by addressing new challenges and exploring experience and knowledge.
The topic of these six round table meetings will therefore concern social dialogue with a specific focus on how to strengthen and highlight the potentials of social dialogue in EU member states and at EU level. The meeting in Bucharest revealed a deep concern of the status quo of social dialogue as well as on general developments within the education sector in Romania. The lively discussion among participants made clear that it is an important moment to raise attention towards this topic. It is expected that the upcoming meetings and the overall outcome of the project will generate solutions to the current challenges the social dialogue is facing all over Europe.
On 20 February 2014 ETUCE held its first out of six roundtable meetings within its new project “Promoting the potentials of the European sectoral social dialogue in education by addressing new challenges and exploring experience and knowledge”. The meeting was carried out in Bucharest together with ETUCE’s affiliate and project partner in Romania, the Free Trade Union Federation in Education (FSLE). It took place in the Palace of the Parliament and gathered a large number of participants from ETUCE’s Romanian member organisations as well as representatives from the government. Remus Pricopie, Minister of National Education, and other speakers, including Christian Welz from Eurofound and Stefaan Ceuppens from the European Commission, contributed to the success of the meeting.
As foreseen, the meeting gave participants the opportunity to highlight key messages, which ETUCE will integrate in its new
Round table meeting in Bucharest on the potentials of social dialogue
While it is too early to say if public education will be explicitly included in the TTIP, it is well known that education liberalisation is the goal of private companies looking to gain access to new “markets” and to maximize their profits. Even if education is not directly included in TTIP, still new rules being developed on domestic regulation could see educational requirements, professional accreditation standards and certification procedures challenged and threatened by US businesses.
In addition, the TTIP intends to include an Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism. ISDS provisions have been controversial as they enable foreign investors to directly sue states before arbitration panels that tend to interpret disputes narrowly in favour of investors. One explanation is that ISDS instruments involve a relatively small number of arbitrators, who tend to have a strong relation to businesses. As a result of ISDS instruments, 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. The extraordinary cost of defending ISDS cases may deter governments from pursuing policy goals or taking regulatory measures that may have an impact on foreign investors. 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. After considerable criticisms, the European Commission has announced that a public consultation on provisions in EU-US trade deal on investment and investor-state dispute settlement will be published in early March 2014.
On 17-18 February 2014, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and United States Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman met for a political stocktaking exercise in Washington, D.C. on the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Following the meeting, the EU Trade Commissioner said negotiations had made good progress and needed to step up a gear. The fourth round of talks will take place on 10–14 March 2014 in Brussels. The transatlantic negotiations will also be discussed when US President Obama visits Brussels for a summit on 26 March 2014. According to the EU Trade Commissioner the EU and the US are entering the ‘heart of negotiations’.
The TTIP is only peripherally about trade, as the tariff rates and quotas between the EU and the US are already very low. Instead, the main issue concerns regulatory convergence and so-called “non-tariff” barriers to trade. The aim is to establish new rules, standards and procedures in a number of areas that are not covered by other trade agreements.
TTIP entering ‘heart of negotiations’
The European Commission is now waiting for a reaction from the Swiss government which has expressed its willingness to negotiate with the EU.
The Commission President, José Manuel Durão Barroso, said that he is aware of the Swiss intentions but he warned that the free movement of persons in Europe "is not negotiable".
Switzerland may experience an important loss in its education budget, should the country decide to continue with these restrictive migrant measures.
The European Union has suspended negotiations with Switzerland on the participation in EU education exchange programmes, such as Erasmus+ and the Horizon 2020 research programme, because of the imminent introduction of quotas to community workers approved in a referendum last week.
Even though Switzerland is not an EU member state, it belongs to the Schengen zone, which enables citizens to cross European borders without custom controls. The Horizon 2020 research programme and Erasmus+ student exchanges are directly linked to freedom of movement inside Europe for communitarian citizens which is one of the fundamental pillars of the EU. The Swiss refusal to sign the protocol extending the free movement of persons to workers from Croatia, a country that joined the EU in July last year, has therefore lead the EU to freeze research grants in the context of the EU Horizon 2020 programme and to suspend the involvement of Switzerland in the Erasmus+ student exchange programme.
EU answers Switzerland: freezes research grants and Swiss involvement in Erasmus+
Certainly, women’s equality has made positive gains in the past century. In 2014, however, the world is still unequal and the recent austerity measures have had a negative impact on women’s rights and gender equality in Europe. In many European countries, reversals of gender equality policies can be observed. As resources are withdrawn in the public service sector, women pay double the price of the crisis: as taxpayers but also as employees because of the deterioration of working conditions, and, finally, as mothers and daughters as they compensate with more family work for the lack of public services.
Gender equality is a particularly pressing issue in the field of education as most of the people working in education are women. Austerity has increased teaching hours for many teachers and education staff in Europe. In support of Education International’s statement, ETUCE wishes to underline that quality education for girls and women is progress for all. ETUCE also encourages its affiliates to send representatives to the second EI World Women’s Conference which will take place in Dublin, Ireland, from 7-9 April 2014. The conference theme is Women in Trade Unions and in Education: from Words to Action. The conference programme takes up key topics regarding women’s organising and leadership within education trade unions, and women’s and girls’ participation in, and successful completion of, quality education.
Celebrated annually on 8 March, International Women’s Day encourages advocacy for women's advancement and gender equality. With thousands of events worldwide, it calls for challenging the status quo for women's equality and for inspiring positive change.
This year, in parallel with the annual ETUC 8th of March survey, ETUCE is conducting an analysis of the impact of austerity politics on gender equality in the education sector, which will end on International Women’s Day. All ETUCE member organisations are invited to contribute to this analysis (http://pages.ei-ie.org/limesurvey/index.php/427553/lang-en).
The topic of International Women’s Day 2014, supported by ETUC, the European Parliament, and the Fundamental Rights Agency, is: “Preventing violence against women - a challenge for all'. The persistent issue of violence against women shows that equality is not only an issue of social and economic justice but a fundamental human right.
International Women’s Day 2014
Since it was released, "Las Maestras de la República" has garnered enormous acclaim. Besides exhibited in the Spanish Film Library, cultural houses or cinemas, the film was also screened at the houses of the people of UGT and in more than 400 theatres across the state, including cultural centres, associations, schools, universities, town halls and cinemas. Over 80,000 people have already attended one of its public screenings. It has also been released on DVD.
"Las Maestras de la República” (women teachers in the Spanish Republic) film promoted by the Education Federation of Workers (FETE-UGT) and Transit Productions won the 2014 Goya Award for best documentary film. The film recreates, through archival footage and interviews with family members and history teachers, the crucial role of the women played in the modernisation of education that took place during the years of the Spanish Second Republic.
Republican women teachers symbolise better than anyone else the social and cultural transformation of the Spanish Second Republic. One of their main objectives was to ensure the social right to quality education for everyone. In this context, women teachers became citizens’ models for female students and for the whole society. This documentary promoted by FETE-UGT seeks to recover the great work that these women played in the conquest of equality and democratic public education in the Spanish society.
FETE UGT won the Spanish cinema award with the documentary film “Las Maestras de la República”
Our Member Organisation the Trade Union of Education and Science Employees of Ukraine is therefore asking for help to restore its activities in full. ETUCE has expressed its concern, support and compassion as well as condolences to our colleagues in Ukraine and to the concerned that have lost members of their family in the terrible incidents in the Independent Square. The country has been weakened and ETUCE can only hope that Ukrainian citizens will remain united and overcome the tragically events. ETUCE will continue to follow the developments and encourages its Member Organisations to support our Ukrainian colleagues by all means including financial assistance to rebuild their union capacity. A coordinated call for solidarity assistance with the Ukrainian colleagues is being issued to the ETUCE Member Organisations in due course.
Last Sunday Kiev's Independence Square turned into a giant memorial complex. People gathered in thousands to honour the dozens of people who have been killed in clashes between demonstrators and the police forces. What we all witnessed from the mass media during the last week and from the current situation in Ukraine is the most serious crisis since its independence in 1991. In the course of the last decade there have been political scandals, fraud and corruption in Ukraine, which has led the country into a devastating shape and increased the frustration among the public. This frustration culminated with the refusal of former President Viktor Yanukovych to sign an association agreement with the European Union. During the fights and clashes between demonstrators and police forces the Trade Union House in Kiev was completely destroyed by a fire. Today several hundred trade union workers remain without workplaces and all documents, furniture, office equipment etc. have been lost.
ETUCE urges to take action to restore the complete functioning of trade unions in Ukraine
we protest against the suspensions and dismissals, and against the policies of the Greek Government, the IMF and the EU,” said OLME President Themis Kotsifakis, who was among those arrested. “The Government, scared by the growing reaction of workers struggling for their right to permanent and stable jobs, released the forces of repression to terrify us.”
OLME also firmly denounces the autocratic actions of the Greek Government, he highlighted.
Kotsifakis declared that teachers and demonstrators will not be terrified by the attacks and will continue their struggle, so that not a single one of their colleagues or a single worker is fired.
“We are struggling for permanent and stable jobs for everyone,” he went on to say. “Terrorism will not be tolerated and our struggle will continue until the final victory.”
On 28 February, the Greek Federation of Secondary State School Teachers (OLME), one of EI’s national affiliates, organised a demonstration in Athens against the proposed dismissal of 12,500 education workers by 22 March. This demonstration took place at the same time as the Troika’s representatives were discussing permanent teachers and other public servants’ dismissals with Greek Government Ministers. Demonstrators underwent a violent attack from the police forces, with 18 demonstrators arrested and four injured and transferred to the hospital.
“We denounce the unprecedented violent incidents caused by the police’s continuous attacks wherever
Greece: education unionists face down police violence
candidates to sign the pledge to “Quality of Education in Europe” through the dedicated electronic form on ETUCE’s website: Candidates’ pledge.The ETUCE will not stop to denounce the dramatic effects of the on-going financial and economic crisis, severely harming the education sector. Nevertheless, the ETUCE is confident that the 2014 European Parliament elections are the greatest democratic opportunity to change the course of European austerity policies and to say “no” to its dramatic dismantling effects on social rights. Through this initiative the ETUCE asks candidates to the European elections to pledge to high quality education for all as one of the fundamental pillars of a just and equitable European society. Some MEP candidates have already signed our electronic pledge to express their support - here. Be the next!
In the framework of the IE/ETUCE initiative “Unite for Quality Education - Better Education for a Better World”, ETUCE has launched a new large-scale campaign initiative called “Candidates pledge to Quality Education”. This initiative aims to seek the support from candidates to the European Parliament elections who share ETUCE’s view on what is needed to improve the Quality of Education in Europe.
Education is not only paying the effects of the crisis, it is also bearing the costs of short-term solutions, and of the lack of courage of policy makers. For these reasons, this initiative is meant to give candidates the opportunity to show to citizens their support to the ETUCE 10 key messages on “What is needed to improve the Quality of Education in Europe”, through a simple fill of an on-line form. In order to achieve the greatest success ETUCE Member Organisations are called to encourage national EP
European elections 2014: Time has come to engage your candidates to pledge to Quality Education
On 6 -7 of March, 38 ETUCE members from 22 different countries, met in the framework of the Higher Education& Research Standing Committee (HERSC) meeting.
All the members agree that it is necessary to pay special attention to the short-term demands of the labour market from the Higher Education, which could be one of the, but not the only, tools to solve youth unemployment.
HERSC members adopted two policy papers: on the status of early stage researchers/PhD candidates and on quality assurance in higher education. Both policy papers will be adopted by ETUCE committee in April and ETUCE Special conference in November 2014.
Higher Education: early stage researchers’ status to be solved
In some countries like Hungary, Portugal, Estonia, Bulgaria, Ireland and Spain, the gender pay gap has increased in recent years.This year, the European Equal Pay Day was commemorated on 28 February 2014. The last day in February marks the date in the new calendar year from which women really begin to be paid for their work as compared to men. In effect, it means that women effectively work the first 2 months of each year for nothing, given the stark difference between women and men’s pay.
The gender pay gap shows that women still do not get equal pay for equal work. It contradicts the principle of equal treatment of men and women, one of the founding principles of the European Union.
On average, women work 59 days unpaid per year. On occasion of the 4th European Equal Pay Day, the European Commission has released the new brochure Tackling the gender pay gap in the European Union, which explains the gender pay gap, its causes and the benefits of closing it.
Indicating the average difference between women and men’s hourly earnings, the gender pay gap still stands at 16.4%. Despite a slight weak downward trend, in recent years, the gender pay gap exists at various levels in all 28 Member States.
A continuous decreasing trend of the gender gap can be found in Denmark, the Czech Republic, Austria, the Netherlands and Cyprus, while other countries (Poland, Lithuania) have reversed their decreasing trend in 2012.
Women work 59 days ‘for free’
One in three women experienced violence
33 % of women living in the European Union have experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15, and one in 20 women was raped since the age of 15. These insights were revealed by an EU-wide survey on violence against women published by the European Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) last Wednesday. The survey shows the extensive prevalence of physical, sexual and psychological violence against women in the European Union.
Acts of violence against women seem to take place often at home in the form of domestic violence. Out of all women who have stated to have a (current or previous) partner,
22 % have experienced physical and/or sexual partner violence by a partner since the age of 15. Physical violence against women included acts of pushing, slapping, throwing hard objects, pulling of hair, beating, and kicking. The majority of women do not report about violent incidents to the police or any other organisation. Sexual harassment is an even more widespread experience of women according to the survey. 55% of women have experienced unwelcome touching, hugging or kissing since the age of 15.
Many women became victims of violence already in their childhood: 12 % reported they had experienced some form of sexual abuse before the age of 15, which would correspond to 21 million women in the European Union.
In total, 42,000 women between 18-74 years were interviewed in the course of the study. All participants were selected randomly and were visited in their homes for a face-to-face interview. The participants were interviewed concerning their experience with physical and sexual violence, including incidents of intimate partner violence (‘domestic violence’), sexual harassment, stalking, cyber harassment, and violence in the childhood.