Summary minutes, Brussels 21 November 2003

Meeting of the European Trade Union Liaison Committee on Tourism

Brussels, 21 November 2003

Summary minutes


1. Adoption of the agenda
The agenda for the meeting and the minutes of the meeting of 5 May 2003 were adopted.

2. Report on activities
The Coordinator reported about events affecting tourism in the last months:

    • the consultation on sustainability in July 2003 to which the ETLC submitted a written comment (see attached)
    • the Commission’s Tourism Advisory Committee meeting in September 2003, which included for the first time representatives from tourism authorities in the 10 accession countries
    • the preparation of the European Tourism Forum 2003 end of November in Venice
    • the cooperation of ITF and IUF on airline catering
    • the non-inclusion of tourism in the European Constitution
    • the resolution adopted by the Council of Ministers on 20th of October 2003 to strengthen measures against undeclared work
    • the IUF meetings on catering and on HRCT in October 2003
    • the general assembly of the EFFAT tourism sector in November 2003
    • the latest initiatives undertaken in the sectoral social dialogues in hotels and restaurants and in contract catering, e.g. on enlargement, qualification, CSR, public procurement, etc.
    • the activities within European Works Councils, e.g. in LSG SkyChefs, Club Mediterranee, Starwood, Elior, Radisson SAS, etc.
    • the latest developments with regard to tourism statistics and Tourism Satellite Accounts

3. European Tourism Industry Network (ETIN)
According to Bill Richards, the ETIN Coordinator, ETIN was created in 2001 upon request of the European Commission and the European Parliament to the tourism industry to speak with a single voice. Given the variety of interests of the wide range of participating organisations, the industry deemed it impossible to set up a single representative body, and founded a loose network.
ETIN is composed of 54 “participants”, not “members”, information is exchanged via internet, positions are reached on an ad hoc basis, no meetings are held, no records are kept.
ETIN is consulted by the European institutions, and is e.g. involved in the preparation of the European Tourism Forum 2003. Generally, ETIN has a very critical view of the initiatives undertaken by the Commission in the field of tourism.
The farest reaching commitment the ETIN Coordinator could make was that we should stay in dialogue.

Conclusions:

    • Given the lack of commitment ETIN is ready to take, ETLC members deemed it useless for the time being to continue searching for further cooperation with ETIN.

4. European Tourism Forum 2003
Participants discussed the upcoming European Tourism Forum 2003. Although the preparation was dominated by employers’ associations, we got trade union representatives as key speakers at the workshops (on taxation and on business impact assessment) and at the final session.
Participants welcomed the initiative of the CNEL (National Council for Economics and Labour) to organise a meeting of the social partners’ organisations in tourism the day before the Forum, and discussed the “Pr Participants welcomed the initiative of the CNEL (National Council for Economics and Labour) to organise a meeting of the social partners’ organisations in tourism the day before the Forum, and discussed the “Proposal of the social partners to the second European Forum on Tourism” produced by CNEL (see attached). The meeting and the document were seen as good instruments to address those items that were not on the agenda of the Forum, namely social aspects. Unfortunately, the information about the meeting was sent so late that many of the participants could not change their travel arrangements any more.
François Ballestero, ETF, presented the contribution he wanted to make at the workshop on business impact assessment (see attached).
Kerstin Howald reported about the latest information that a “Venice Declaration” was supposed to be adopted at the end of the European Tourism Forum, but that no draft has been seen, yet.

Conclusions:

    • All trade union representatives should try to participate in the CNEL meeting on the day before the European Tourism Forum and actively contribute to the Forum.
    • The CNEL document should be presented to the Forum.
    • ETLC should claim to be involved in the drafting of the Venice Declaration.

5. The current situation of tourism in Europe
Participants exposed new trends in national tourism markets.
A general observation was the significant impact of low cost carriers (LCC) on the European tourism market. The LCC market is overheated, companies are benefiting from high state subsidies, cheap use of regional airports, low social standards for their employees and relatively new fleets. Most of the low cost carriers abandoned on board catering, which has an impact on employment in the catering sector. A petition on the low cost model and its social and economic consequences on the aviation sector will soon be presented at the European Parliament.
Many tourism companies relocate parts of their services, e.g. booking or accounting, to Eastern Europe or Asia, so many jobs for e.g. young people and women in call centres get lost.
In some countries, tourism is still growing, but as this is often mainly due to expansion of low cost carrier airlines and last minute holidays, the impact on employment and the quality of jobs is not necessarily positive. As tourists are getting used to the low price level, it will be difficult to reverse this situation in future.
In most countries, trade unions are busy defending the acquired social rights and benefits for tourism workers.
A local community tax for tourists as applied e.g. on the Baleares in Spain, in Oxford, UK, and at the North Sea and in the Alpes in Germany, are seen as a good tool to support sustainable tourism.
As spa tourism is a growing market segment, contact to spa associations should be sought.

Conclusions:

    • The exchange of information on the situation in tourism shall be continued.
    • The outsourcing / relocation activities of tourism companies should be monitored.
    • The changing patterns of tourist behaviour should be monitored in order to assess a possible impact on employment and develop strategies for the future.

6. Sustainability and Tourism
The Coordinator reported about the state of affairs of the Commission’s activities on sustainable tourism. The Commission Communication “Basic orientations for the sustainability of European tourism” is expected to be published by the end of November 2003. Given the fact that the Commission’s documents on tourism became ever weaker on social aspects, trade unions should not be too optimistic about the results. We will nevertheless continue to give our views and highlight the importance of social issues.

7. Transnational companies in the travel and tourism sector
Participants reported about the latest developments in MyTravel (EWC negotiations started in early autumn 2003, experts from UK and Norway assist the negotiations), Accor and Sodexho (renewal of EWC agreements), Starwood/Sheraton (EWC support for striking workers in Canada), ClubMed (agreement on staff mobility), CWT (insufficient coordination of EWC negotiations).

Conclusions:

    • The exchange of information on developments in transnational travel and tourism companies and on the European Works Councils thereof shall be continued.

8. EU Enlargement and Tourism
Participants reported about activities aiming at including workers’ representatives from transnational travel and tourism companies in the future EU Member States in the existing European Works Councils.

Access to Community funding was difficult in 2003, as the Commission changed requirements to the legal status of potential beneficiaries. With the situation settled, funding will be sought for the ETLC conference on enlargement in 2004.

9. Other business
Richard Rosser will retire in February 2004. All participants thanked Richard Rosser for his excellent work as Chairman of the ETLC and wished him all the best for his future.
The Secretariats will designate the new ETLC Chairman.

Information about the “International Forum on Tourism Statistics” scheduled on 9-11 June 2004 in Stockholm, Sweden was distributed.

The dates for the ETLC meetings 2004 are:
6 May 2004
7 October 2004

The ETLC work programme 2004 will be drafted and adopted at the first meeting 2004.