Policy programme 2018-2021 adopted by Eurocadres Congress on 30-31 October 2017.
Quality of working life
Taking up a managerial or professional role means taking up responsibility for the company including the employees. The role of professionals and managers is often one representing the employer. At the same time, professionals and managers are employees and have interests as such, sometimes being squeezed in between conflicting interests.
Professionals and managers have a key role to play in pursuing trade union goals within a company – be it corporate social responsibility (CSR), occupational health and safety, gender equality, further qualification of employees, healthy working time, etc. – goals we call for in this document. It is of utmost importance to involve and support professionals and managers in the social dialogue.
European professionals and managers spend a large part of life at work and, therefore, working time is the key factor for quality of working life. While performing the job and profession, professionals and managers should be able to develop and meet own needs on health and safety, work-life balance and CSR.
Management, distribution and level of flexibility of working time are the key issues to look at when examining health and safety at work, gender equality and work-life balance. Generally, it has also been shown that decreased yearly working hours has a positive impact on productivity.
In this respect, the current EU directive on working time is unfortunately deteriorating the situation for professionals and managers. The Working Time Directive is a minimum directive which should guarantee at least some level of work force protection in the European Union. The usage of opt-out has become an instrument for a race to the bottom and is, in its current form, jeopardising one of the fundamental principles of EU, equal competition/fair play in the internal market.
The number one priority for Eurocadres on the Working Time Directive, is to end the groundless derogation of professional and managerial staff – autonomous workers – from the scope of the Directive. Only a minority of professionals can freely determine own working hours. Certain flexibility is needed and could be arranged by collective bargaining or by agreements concluded between the two sides of industry.
Psychosocial health risks & work-life management
Psychosocial health risks and work-related stress are growing rapidly and are among occupational hazards the most challenging. Lack of recognition, reward, influence and sense of control over working time and tasks together with a too burdensome work-load and bad work organisation and/or culture lead to this accelerating increase of psychosocial health problems. There is a need for better protection, also for professionals and managers.
Professionals and managers can end up in the absurd situation that stress resistance is even considered as part of the occupational profile. Although being excessively exposed to psychosocial risk it is least accepted to raise this problem.
There is a clear business case for good occupational health and safety, including psychosocial health. Stronger legal instruments, with special attention paid to psychosocial health, as well as standards should be developed accompanied by continuous awareness raising activities.
Gender equality and diversity in working life
Equality, accessibility and inclusion are a matter of human rights. In addition to that, the research evidence is growing that there is also a strong business case for diversity, making it profitable to invest in improving practice in the workplace. Equal rights and opportunities must be mainstreamed. On enterprise level, trade union representation and social dialogue on the issues are important and can foster a good culture to combat racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia and other forms of discrimination.
Promoting establishment of quality child and elderly care systems should enable men and women to be engaged equally in the private and family lives as well as to stay active in the labour market.
In many Member States the basic right to maternity leave is poor. We need longer and fully paid maternity leave. The right to parental leave should be strengthened, gender-neutral and the period prolonged and fully paid. Developing paternal leave in addition to maternity and parental leave promotes equal pay and contributes to a change in attitudes, especially on gender stereotypes.
Work-life management is a gender equality issue. Labour markets with strong gender division leads to a gender pay gap for professionals and managers as well.
Enabling women to take up managerial roles, as well as executive positions, is a key measure to promote change in attitudes as well as organisational behaviour and culture. Eurocadres supports attempts of EU to increase board representation of women, also by legal instruments while respecting national systems and traditions. A competitive Europe must include not just one gender in leading positions in economy.
Digitalisation is changing work across sectors and becomes both an opportunity and a challenge. Employment and the labour market will go through a transformation. Many professions will decrease in numbers, whereas new jobs will emerge. Many of these new jobs will require a different set of skills. We call for just transition in digitalisation with strong systems to support transitioning from one job to another.
The challenge is to address issues in relation to social security and new forms of employment, as well as to make sure that employers assume responsibility. A large part of the work on digital platforms in the collaborative economy is carried out by professionals. It is important that the EU takes on the issue but there is a need to address it on global level too, for example in trade agreements. As social partners, we address the issues through bipartite social dialogue with employers and through tripartite social dialogue with state actors.
We urge trade union organisations throughout Europe to take up, also in social dialogue with employers, both on national and EU level, the issue of digitalisation in finding the opportunities and addressing the challenges, including the right to disconnect. With an uneven distribution of digital skills there is a clear gender-dimension to digitalisation.
Professionals and managers – many operating on European and international level – are the ones that most frequently come across information in companies and other organisations that needs to be disclosed in the public interest. Whistleblower protection is in most cases a workers’ rights issue. At the same time, not all whistleblowers are employees. Therefore, broad protection should be ensured covering also other than employees. It is time for an EU wide whistleblower protection.
In 2016 Eurocadres launched a platform initiative setting up a campaign website WhistleblowerProtection.EU collecting signatories from trade unions and other civil society organisations. Eurocadres has established a strong cooperation with the European Parliament and civil society to exploit the momentum and continue to push the Commission to bring forward initiatives on legislation for whistleblower protection.
Real freedom of mobility
Labour mobility of high-qualified professionals and managers makes a vital contribution to a knowledge-based European economy and society. For individuals, mobility must be a free choice and mobility experiences should lead to personal and professional enrichment and foster career opportunities.
Eurocadres aims to promote mobility in Europe. We unconditionally defend fair mobility which means decent and equal working conditions, employment according person’s qualifications together with equal labour rights, portability of social and pension rights as well as transparent income taxation rules. But, mobility is not a one-way path. We also need measures when returning to one’s home country, also for family members.
Economic hardship and bad working conditions can often be strong motivators for mobility. If these are the only reasons for the individual to leave the country, as shown in the economic crisis, there is a large risk of brain drain in the home country as well as well as underutilisation of human capital in the host country because mobile workers are not employed according to qualifications.
The social partners, on both sides, employers and trade unions, on national but on European level as well, must assume responsibility towards employees coming from abroad and guaranteeing equal treatment and equal rights at the workplace and in education. Eurocadres calls upon the social partners to deal with obstacles for and inequalities of mobility taking into account that the conditions of mobile workers are not the same and taking place under different circumstances.
Recognition of qualifications and competences
Professional qualifications acquired in any Member State should be recognised all over Europe to enable further movement of people and to capitalise knowledge and experiences.
It is difficult for qualified professionals to access regulated professions with foreign qualifications in some EU countries. Eurocadres supports the Commission´s approach to avoid inappropriate regulation which can create an unnecessary burden on the professional and put up obstacles for mobility. Regulation of professions shall be objectively justified on the basis of public policy, public security or public health, or by overriding reasons in the public interest. A proper balance between free movement, sound qualifications and high standards is necessary.
It is important that national social partners are involved in the work on possible national reforms together with professional associations.
International trade and mobility of professionals
The mobility aspect in free trade agreements is essential for professionals. Such agreements should facilitate temporary mobility of professionals and service providers. The agreements should establish a system for recognition of qualifications as well as improved mobility procedures for family members.
Professionals could benefit of lower thresholds between the EU and third countries. However, the process of negotiations of trade related agreements must be transparent and democratic. Trade agreements should not weaken working conditions, education or consumer and environmental protection.
Mobility of highly qualified third country nationals
Eurocadres welcomes initiatives to let third country nationals enter the EU labour market. The exchange with countries outside the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA) allows a much wider skills and know-how exchange of which both receiving and sending economies can profit by boosting innovation and growth.
Immigration cannot be the only tool to tackle the possible labour shortage or in the future or current skills mismatch. It is only one measure among many others. Member States and the EU need to assume responsibility to increase the level of investment in research, education and innovation in Europe in both private and public sector to improve the competitiveness of Europe. Further, the improvement of working conditions, equality, investments in professional development, reconciliation of work and family life remain as key measures to combat the problems of the European labour market.
Migration policies focusing on recruiting high-skilled labour from third countries should avoid brain-drain and economic damages in these countries. It is of utmost importance to establish a real exchange which benefits the individual, the home and the host country. The involvement of the social partners is crucial for assuring this exchange.
Stronger knowledge-based Europe
Education should meet societal and economic needs. Well educated citizens are an important pillar for democracy, innovation and stability. Eurocadres believes that quality and easier accessible higher education is needed in Europe to overcome today’s societal and economic challenges.
Quality and accessible higher education
Europe must claim its position at the top in quality higher education by modernising curricula and investing in research and teaching. Our education institutions need new talents and therefore, Europe needs to attract more international students, as well as improving the accessibility and quality of tertiary education for European citizens. In this respect, we strongly oppose cost-sharing mechanisms that introduce or increase tuition fees which add to the economic burden of individuals.
To create incentives for innovation and modernisation in higher education we support closer cooperation between the higher education institutions and the labour market benefiting the employability of graduates.
Internships have become widespread for young graduates to gain work experience. We condemn underpaid internships where employers are taking advantage of the situation; everyone is entitled to a decent pay. Internship schemes should be short-term and should not undermine and replace regular employment.
Working as a professional requires a constant upgrade of skills. Eurocadres is in favour of EU actions that facilitate access of professionals and managers to knowledge and skills development. Access to professional development ensures that we will have sustainable and better working lives.
Higher education largely focuses on the young, but there is an increasing need to adapt or complement curricula and financial support for employees in need of professional development or reskilling; this should be considered in both EU and national policies. Eurocadres calls for equal access to further education irrespective of age and status of career. Employers also have a responsibility for employee’s further education. In addition, we call on governments to support the labour market during large and fast structural reforms.
Funding for research and innovation
The investment in education and research resources must be raised considerably. High quality of and equal access to education are of capital importance. The share of educational and research programmes should be at least one fifth of the EU budget (for the moment around one tenth).
We strongly support the Horizon 2020 and the European Research Area (ERA), which can strengthen capacities across Member States. Still, trade unions need to be much more involved in shaping the working conditions of employees in the ERA. Quality in higher education and research is assured through good working conditions of academic staff. Those who dedicate a career to the academic world face highly precarious working conditions and not only in the beginning of the career. The academic profession is exposed to short-term and project based contracts with high job insecurity. Evidently trade unions need to improve activities in his sector. Thus, we call trade unions to reach out to students and graduates far before the start of the academic career.
Intellectual property rights
Highly-skilled professionals actively contribute to research, development and innovation during the work life. The social partner’s needs to enhance legal protection for all the parties involved: companies, employees and public authorities.
Intellectual Property Rights should offer authors and producers incentives in the form of recognition of created work as well as economic compensation. To guarantee compensation, it is essential to clarify the ownership of intellectual property. Regarding copyrights under an employment contract, agreements on the transfer of copyright should always be dealt with separately.