Meeting of the European Trade Union Liaison Committee on Tourism
Luxembourg, 7 May 2002
1.New ETLC Chairman
Kerstin Howald recalled the principle laid down in the ETLC agreement stipulating that the ETLC chair should rotate between the sectors. After the chair was held for the first couple of years by Christian Juyaux, representing the hospitality sector, and successively by Antonio Zilli and Raffaele Vanni, representing UNI, the turn is now to the transport sector. She welcomed the new chairman designated by the transport sector, Richard Rosser, who is one of the most long-standing ETLC members and looked forward to the good cooperation with him. She thanked Raffaele Vanni, who unfortunately could not be present that day, for his work and the progress achieved by the ETLC under his chair.
The new ETLC Chairman opened the meeting and welcomed the participants (see attached list).
-A joint letter of the ETLC will be sent to Raffaele Vanni to show the appreciation of his work.
2.Adoption of the agenda
The agenda for the meeting and the minutes of the meeting of 12 October 2001 were adopted (see attached).
3.Report on activities
·Meeting of the ETLC secretariats
On 11 April 2002 the ETLC secretariats (EFFAT, IUF, UNI, UNI-Europa, ETF, ITF) met to assess the activities pursued by the ETLC so far. The secretariats appreciated the work undertaken and its results. They decided to continue their cooperation in the ETLC and to extend the agreement. They approved the rotation of the ETLC chairman and agreed upon the following priorities for future work:
-exchange of information on developments in the industry (the input could be decentralised, i.e. people should give input from the fields of their activity /responsibility)
-recruitment of trade union members in the tourism industry (e.g. promotion of new ideas, launching of pro-active measures)
-EU enlargement (further discussion under point 5)
-enhance the visibility of the ETLC, also internally, vis-à-vis the member organisations
The EU – Mediterranean conference should be kept pending until the situation in the Middle East is settled (further discussion under point 5).
ITF will continue to pursue its tourism activities in Europe through the ETLC. UNI is interested in this approach and plans to bring together all its tourism affiliates. Several transport sections of the ETF are concerned by tourism, this is why ETF will set up an internal trans-sectoral working group on tourism. The IUF HRCT trade group will adopt a new programme at its board meeting during the IUF congress in May.
As a first follow up to the initiatives proposed in the Commission Communication “Working together for the future of European tourism” the Commission scheduled the first annual European Tourism Forum for 10 December 2002 in Brussels, the draft programme of which was presented at a meeting on 16 April 2002 (further discussion under point 6 and 7).
Christian Juyaux represented the trade unions at an EP hearing on the future of European tourism on 19 February 2002 (see attached copy of his intervention).
Meetings with representatives in charge of tourism in the governments of the respective EU Presidencies are important to give a trade union input into the tourism policies pursued by them. The Coordinator and Harald Wiedenhofer met the Belgian Minister for Employment and Tourism in November 2001, Harald Wiedenhofer met the Spanish General Secretary for Tourism at the Ministry for Economy, Trade and Tourism in February 2002. Points discussed were amongst others the involvement of the social partners in the dialogue on tourism, the need for more coherent and reliable statistical data on tourism, including data on employment, the setting up of a European observatory on employment and qualification, the improvement of the quality of tourism services through a motivated and qualified staff, less precarious working conditions and a lower staff turn over. The trade unions were invited to the informal tourism council in Santander on 4 and 5 May 2002.
·Sectoral social dialogue
EFFAT and HOTREC concluded in their sectoral social dialogue in the European hotel and restaurant sector a joint declaration on VAT, stating that a lower and EU-wide harmonized VAT rate applied to labour-intensive sectors would increase demand and induce the creation of jobs.
The social partners also issued a joint reaction to the Commission Green Paper on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). CSR should go beyond provisions laid down in legislation and/or collective agreements. In the hospitality sector, companies could show their social responsibility e.g. by measures encompassing anti-discrimination and the fight against racism and xenophobia.
·European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)
The Coordinator informed about the continuous efforts of EFFAT to get the interests of workers in the food chain taken into consideration by EU institutions dealing with food safety and hygiene, as workers are the ones who have to implement regulations and who are the first to discover misfunctioning and problems. And they are suffering most from the loss of jobs in case of food crisis. Despite all efforts, no candidate with a trade union background made it to the Board of EFSA.
The BITS (Bureau International du Tourisme Social) approached the trade unions looking for cooperation in the field of training. Social tourism employs appr. 300,000 workers throughout Europe. The possibility of cooperation will be checked.
Participants underlined the need for mutual information, particularly in case of crisis. A working structure beneath the ETLC could be created, e.g. in form of working groups, or through direct bilateral links. An overview of members in EWCs and the creation of a network could support the daily work of the representatives, e.g. with regard to negotiations in TNCs.
Examples for good practices are.
-the joint web portal installed by ver.di and British trade unions, where they can chat online with the support of automatic translation software (C:\WINDOWS\TEMP\int.unity.htm)
-training sessions provided at national level for trade unions and workers’ representatives at Club Mediterranee following the joint declaration on subcontracting, aiming at developing cooperation and knowledge
-the recruitment campaign of TSSA (magazine will be sent by mail)
In Denmark a study showed that workers in the hospitality sector are subject to higher health risks, they have e.g. a two times higher rate of mortality. A more detailed report will be given at the next ETLC meeting.
The Chairman emphasised that the increase of trade union membership is one of the most important issues, as our influence depends to a great extent on representativity. This is even more important with regard to the political changes in the EU, in the follow up of which conservative governments might cut back trade union rights and undermine the concept of social partnership.
-The experience of ver.di and British trade unions will be looked into.
-ETLC members will be invited to present good practices with regard to recruitment at the ETLC meetings, in order that lessons should be learned from other trade unions.
4.The impact of the terrorist attacks on the US and the following events on tourism
The two reports issued by the Commission on 17.10. and 13.11.2002 on the situation in tourism following the terrorist attacks on the US showed that civil aviation, tour operators and travel agencies are most affected, but that no concrete figures exist, yet, on the overall impact.
Participants reported about the situation in their country/sector:
In Germany, bookings already decreased before September 11, also because prices went up after the introduction of the Euro, so that many families could not afford to travel anymore. In order to minimize a negative impact on employment, measures to safeguard jobs were agreed in collective bargaining.
In Italy, precarious workers are the most affected. Employers and trade unions carried out joint studies and took joint initiatives to overcome the crisis.
In Great Britain, TSSA gave Thomas Cook a bad press about pay freezes, blaming them to use the current situation to achieve other objectives.
In the hospitality sector the social partners EFFAT and HOTREC agreed to monitor the situation and to act jointly, also vis-à-vis the Commission, if new developments arise.
The maintenance of jobs was also one of the main priorities of the ETLC position paper and of the joint declaration of the ILO ad hoc meeting.
-The ETLC will continue the collection and exchange of information on the development in the sector, and take any further initiative if need be.
5.ETLC Tourism Events 2002
·EU – Mediterranean Conference
With a view to the aggravated situation in the Middle East, the secretariats recommended to maintain the plan of an EU-Mediterranean conference, also for reasons of solidarity, but to monitor the development and to hold the meeting at a more appropriate time.
The CNEL Italy and the Italian social partners continue the preparation of the conference which might be scheduled in October 2002 in Rome.
-The European Industry Federations and International Trade Secretariats will promote the idea of the conference amongst their member organisations and provide the Coordinator with information on former initiatives.
-A background paper presenting the outline and the objectives of the conference will be drafted.
-The possibility of joining the Italian initiative will be looked into.
The secretariats recommended EU enlargement as subject for the next ETLC conference. Different aspects should be considered, e.g. fears of skill drain in candidate countries and of social dumping in the Member States caused by migration, feeble trade unions, weak if not non-existing social partnership, insufficient implementation of the “acquis communitaires”. The conference should bring together actors from the different tourism sectors, identify prevailing problems and provide possible solutions.
-A programme proposal will be drafted in cooperation between the secretariats.
-The Coordinator will seek for funding of the conference.
6.EU Tourism Policy
·European Tourism Forum
The first annual European Tourism Forum scheduled for 10 December 2002 in Brussels will convene some 450 participants. The programme will focus principally on sustainability of tourism, and on business impact assessments of legislation likely to affect tourism.
·European observatory on tourism
The Commission made the setting up of a European observatory on tourism one of the top priorities of their Communication. For many years trade unions in tourism press for the elaboration of a tool that could provide employees and companies with information that would also facilitate mobility. The observatory should include information on employment, qualification and working conditions in the sector. The involvement of trade unions in the development and implementation of the observatory must be ensured. Information gathered in different contexts, e.g. the ETLC study “What kind of jobs in tourism?”, could be provided as input to the observatory.
The Spanish Presidency brought a new element by drafting a resolution on the future of European tourism which will be presented to the Internal Market/Consumer Affairs/Tourism Council meeting on 21 May. Containing a few good points, such as the need for better analysis of repercussions of Community measures on tourism, for promotion of ethical dimension of tourism, for cooperation with candidate and Mediterranean countries, etc. the resolution does not show any new ideas. Negative points are that the resolution says nothing about working conditions, training, mobility, etc., and that trade unions are generally summoned under stakeholders.
-Trade union representation at the European Tourism Forum shall be ensured. The ETLC should be on the speakers’ list.
-The setting up of the observatory should be taken up in talks with the EU Presidencies.
-The practice of meetings with EU Presidencies should be continued.
7.Sustainability and Tourism
·Towards a European Agenda 21 of tourism
The Commission Staff Paper “Preparing an Agenda 21 for European Tourism”, circulated to the ETLC members, gives a first draft outline of a document on sustainability that is expected to be issued in autumn 2002, the final document will be launched, after consultation of the tourism industry, at the European Tourism Forum in December 2002.
·Tour Operators’ Initiative
Gabriele Guglielmi gave a report on the Tour Operators’ Initiative (TOI), an initiative developed by tour operators in the context of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), in which he is involved. (Documents on the work in progress were sent to ETLC members before) GRI is an international, multi-stakeholder effort to create a common framework for voluntary reporting of the economic, environmental and social impact of organisation-level activity. TOI has the support of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Tourism Organization (WTO/OMT). Under this international umbrella, tour operators who are members of TOI will be able to respond to international agendas while creating a platform to develop ideas and projects to address the environmental, social, economic and cultural aspects of sustainable development within the tourism sector. One of the main concerns of the trade unions is that social indicators such as respect of ILO Conventions, workers’ and trade union rights, etc. are included. The weakness of this voluntary initiative is the lack of control mechanisms to assess whether the reports given by the companies comply with reality. GRI/TOI are also on the agenda of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in August/September 2002.
-ETLC will react to the Commission paper on Agenda 21 – Sustainability in Tourism
-ETLC will draft a position paper on sustainability. Gabriele Guglielmi will provide a first draft.
No other business.