The Final Conference of the joint project dealing with the information and help for migrant workers inside the EU, implemented by the Hungarian LIGA Trade Unions, the British Trade Union Confederation and the Romanian Cartel Alfa Trade Unions was held on 15-16 January 2015 in Budapest, at the conference rooms of the Lion's Garden Hotel.
Opening of the conference
Melinda Kelemen, project manager (LIGA, Hungary) greeted the participants, representing the British, Romanian and the Belgian, Bulgarian, German, Italian, Portugal, Polish Trade Unions, the representative of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), as well, as the co-workers of the Hungarian partner trade unions. She introduced the programme of the 2-day conference and informed about launching of the website related to the project.
Introduction of the activities and results of the project
Rosa Crawford, project coordinator (TUC) told that the TUC participated, as a trade union of a receiving country and the Liga and the Cartel Alfa took part, as trade unions of the sending countries. Among the project meetings she focused on the London workshop, which was a good occasion for changing experiences about the migration and because the representatives of the TUC could learn there a lot. She added that the workshops in Budapest and Bucharest also contributed to the success of the project. The President of the TUC participated in the London workshop, as he is deriving from Kashmir, therefore knowing very well the issue of migration, and his example with a high post proves that there is an open door for migrants to make a carrier in the U.K.
In her lecture Rosa Crawford told that since 2004 many workers arrived in the United Kingdom, among others, from Hungary and Romania. The U.K. has a lot of experiences in receiving migrants. The arrival of the East-Central-European migrants has raised a lot of new questions, among them the issue of collective agreements' extension.
The migration is also a political issue, the media is dealing a lot with it, namely with the low salaries and with the worse working conditions for migrants. The TUC with its regional counselling network and with English language training courses provides help for the migrant employees, although the migrant working power is generating tensions at the same time in the country.
Michaela Darle, project coordinator (Cartel Alfa), informed about that Romania is not a sending country, exclusively, but it is also drawing migrants, mainly from Moldavia and Turkey. She told that their participation was useful in the project, because of the mutual exchange of information, of recruiting new trade union members and due to the help provided to the TU members, as well, as she means that the publication, prepared by the project is an important result.
Overview of the European migration policy and the relevant activities of the European Trade Union Cooperation (ETUC)
Marco Cilento, ETUC counsellor told in his lecture, in relation to the present terrorist attack in France, that the perpetrators were not emigrants, but second-generation French citizens, therefore it is not correct to combine the two phenomenon into a single context. However, the limitation of the immigration from third countries and the tightening up the basic rights could be expected. The presence of migrants is enriching the societies.
20% of the EU mobile workers were EU citizens in 2009, today it is 40%, and altogether about 34 Million employees are not EU citizens. The population of the EU is on the decrease, although this is compensated by the increasing migration.
The ETUC prepared an official position related to the 5 years migration program of the new Juncker Committee, on the protection of the migrants' rights, as well as about supporting the asylum-seekers, arriving to the Mediterranean area (Mare Nostrum/Triton programmes).
The ETUC forwards information to the Committee and makes recommendations in the subject of migration. The three EU member states touched the best by migration are: Germany, Great Britain and Italy. Majority of „emigrants" are EU citizens. Most of the migrants arrive in Great Britain from the 8 new EU member states (including mainly Bulgaria and Romania), in case of Italy the number of migrants are on the decrease. The most significant sending countries are: Portugal, Romania, Poland and Hungary.
The majority of the third country citizens arrive in the EU from Africa, as with the collapse of the Libyan state, the control of African migrants was cancelled, the number of application for asylum increased dramatically, but the acceptance can not keep pace with it. New phenomenon is that former migrants are returning home, Romania, Lithuania and Latvia are on the first place, and this is in relation with the decreasing working opportunities in Western Europe.
It is characteristic that in the well developed EU member states ithe unemployment is lower among those workers, who arrived from other EU member states, higher among their own citizens and the highest is among those coming from third countries.
The number of asylum seekers is on a steady increase, their number was about 450 thousand in 2013, among them about 126 thousand appeared in Germany, about 54 thousand in Sweden, about 29 thousand in the U.K., about 66 thousand in France. A smaller part of them will be accepted, a bigger part refused. The real question is, how these people could get a job.
Demographical changes are: the size of the European population is stagnating due to emigrants, Africa is on the incease. In the Middle-East 5 Million people is living in refugee camps. A new migration corridor was formed through Turkey.
Giorgo Casula, counsellor (CGTP-IN, Portugalia) told in his comment that agreements should be concluded with the sending countries, although this is not pssible, as some of these states are not operational (as Libya, Syria).
Solution possibilities are: equal chances in the working-power market, equality before the law, to set up round-table discussion among employers and employees representatives, setting up focal points Europen-wide, establishing an information network, operation of websites. The task is to convince the European Commission about the importance of these.
Overview of the Country Reports and the Summary Reports
Judit Tóth, expert (University of Sciences, Szeged, Hungary) summarized in her lecture the important data of the Hungarian report and made suggestions.
The utilization of the mobility opportunities is more characteristic inside the EU, but the situation is not the same with the workers coming from third countries. A trend is the increasing number of asylum seekers, although only a few of them receive this status. The rate of the workers coming from third countries is on the decrease.
The rate of the migrant workers is on the decrease in Hungary, their number decreased from 2% to 1,5% between 2001 and 2011, while their number was decreased significantly, with 34% in a single year between 2011-2012. Hungary is not attractive for migrant workers, because of the low rate of the monthly minimum wages (216 €), which is less, than the minimal living costs (300 €). The officially reported unemployment rate is high (11%) and 55% of the unemployed people is seeking a job for longer than one year. The average period of job-seeking is 20 months, the personal tax is high, the social benefits are limited.
Under mirror-statistics data more, than 500 thousand Hungarian citizens were working abroad in 2014, among them about 300 thousand persons in the U.K., 135 thousand in Germany, 65 thousand in Austria and 10 thousand in Slovakia. Under the data of the Central Statistical Office of Hungary 7.4% of the active Hungarian population had a job abroad, that is 335 thousand persons. Under the World Bank data this number is 462 thousand persons.
The rate of emigration of physicians and IT experts is significant, generating lack of specialists in these fields.
While there is a loss in the income tax and VAT payments in Hungary, the transfer of money from the Hungarian emigrants is on the increase, which was 2,4 Billon USD in 2011.
For the replacement of the leaving Hungarian working power well qualified migrants should be received. Neither the National Development Plan nor the National Reform Program is dealing with the migrant working power on its importance. The Migration Strategy for 2014-2020 helds acceptable to receive foreign working power in certain fields, beside the protection of the national working power.
2% of the Hungarian citizens is member of the trade union, the membership rate among migrants is 0,5%. The employment affairs offices are providing information on available jobs for migrant workers, this is amended by the EURES information. There are also about 50 legal services in Hungary, which can provide up-to-date information on the relevant national legislation
The role of the employment policy is decreasing, and the supporting activities in the labour affairs are 30 billion Forints less for the year 2015, comparing to the previous year, while the amount for public work is increased.
The trade unions, the private working power mediator offices could provide help to the migrant workers arriving in Hungary, although difficulties are caused by their lack of language knowledge.
Recommendations are to train the trade union leaders and activists, to prepare them for accepting migrant employees, strengthening the international cooperation of trade unions, preparation and dissemination of publications on the rights and responsibilities of migrant employees.
Sonia McKay, expert (Working Lives Research Institute, U.K.) introduced in her lecture the British working power market, which characteristically, is not overregulated. The rate of employment in the U.K. is high (71,7%), the unemployment rate is low (7,4%), thanks to the widely extending part-time employment. There are significant differences in the wages, the atypical employment forms are extending, as the self-employment (e.g. in the construction industry, among hairdressers), due to taxing reasons. As concerns the employment of the young people, it is known that 40% of the 16-17 years old and 21% of the 18-24 years old males are employed. The number of those having a second job is on the increase..
The number of workers in a full time job decreased by 341 thousand workers between 2007-2012. It must be noted that historically the non-regulated labour was characteristic, while the regulated work is relatively new, it has been existing only for a few decades.
The number of people employed in the public sector is increasing, the whole-sale and retail trade have became the most significant economic activity, the number of employees working full time is decreasing, the number of those working in part-time is increasing, wages are not increased characteristically, the migrant workers earn less than the national citizens, the economic performance is not really increasing, the number of posts under collective agreements is decreasing. The immigration is on a large-scale, mainly from the „new" EU member states, although relative less worker arrived from Hungary and Bulgaria to the U.K.
The dialogue between the employers and employees is relatively week, the trade unions have a little effect on enforcing interest, the role of the collective agreements is decreasing, the rights of employees are weaker, and there are difficulties in enforcing the law, the EU regulations are valid together with exceptions. Aversion to immigrants is getting stronger in general.
Most of the migrants from a third country coming to the U.K. are from India and other countries of the British Commonwealth and there are less prejudices against them, because of the joint cultural roots.
The trade unions have limited ability to help for migrants, because of the lack of language knowledge and capacities. Earlier it was characteristic that the immigrants had organized themselves (e.g. Irish people). The validation of interest is difficult in case of labour law issues, the procedures cost a lot.
The goal is to let such regulation accepted which is convenient for the given community, as e.g. to merge the 2 shorter holidays' time of 2 years into one longer period, to give a chance for migrant workers for a longer holiday in their home country.
Ciobanu Georgiana, expert („Solidarity" Social Research and Developing Center, Romania) held her lecture about the employment of Romanian workers in Great-Britain. 80% of the Romanian employees are working in the private sector, 30% is the rate of the employees in the agriculture, the brutto amount of the average wages is about 400 €, 70% of the employees earn less than the average wage.
The Romanian state is not urging the foreign employment of the workers, the trade union did not elaborate an own strategy for it. As relates the workers arriving in Romania, the employment has strict conditions, giving permission only in those sectors, where there is a shortage in the professionals.
The migration can be examined in three dimensions, it relates 3 Million workers, in the sense of geography it affects the country, as a whole, the main goal is to ensure better labour- and living circumstances comparing to the unfavourable conditions in Romania. Main target countries are Spain, Italy, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.
The directions and the methods of research are: 2 online research, the discover the problems of the Romanian workers living in the United kingdom, 92 questionnaire was mailed to the subjects, mapping up the trends of migration in British relation, 465 questionnaires mailed to those planning migration. The research studies had the following outcomes.
Outcomes are: The U.K. is the main target country for Romanian migrants, before Germany and France. The 56% of the emigrants are women, 85% of the emigrants was urban people, 34% had a univesity graduation, 72% had professional experiences, 54% is living in the U.K. together with their families, 36% had a permanent working relation.
Motivation factors are: dissatisfaction with the present financial situation, lack of working opportunities in Romania, effects of the economic crisis, labour law problems, lack of perspectives of the professional development, the need for supporting their families. Drawing factors are: the higher incomes, better working conditions, cultural attractiveness.
Romanian migrants are choosing the U.K. because of the possibility for continuing their studies, gain a good English knowledge, they find better working conditions, civilized general situation, working opportunities, higher living standards.
Seeking jobs is taking place in more platforms, as on-line, personal relations, etc., but this goal does not appear in trade unions.
Problems in the first years of the employment in the U.K. are: detachment from families, the graduations are not compatible, difficulties in solving legal problems, language knowledge is not enough, although, the biggest problem is the discrimination (racism).
33% of those replied would like to get more help from the trade unions to their employment abroad. The Romanian trade union are not active enough in this field, they do not have elaborated strategies, financial tools and information materials for helping the migrants..
Recommendations: to organize language courses, to ensure the necessary information to a freight employment, counselling, information about the acceptance of graduations, offering help for official procedures (e.g. acquiring permissions), to involve convenient (controlled) employment mediators, to introduce good and bad practices, mediation in the labour rights, supporting integration of the families of the migrants in the host countries.
Katalin Szomor, expert (Hungary), who prepared the Summary Study of the project, commented the Hungarian and Romanian contributions. She told, it is very important to speak about the brain-waste due to migration, the difficulties of the Y-generation, as well as about the Report of the Hungarian Business Council on the impacts of the emigration to the development of the Hungarian economy. She added that she recommended such complex and successful programs for helping the migrants, as the MSZOSZ-ÖGB cross-border project, which was introduced as a good practice. As concerns the claims and needs of the migrant workers, mentioned by the Ms Ciobanu Georgiana, the fight against xenophobia in the receiving countries, as well, as the information and legal protection of the migrant workers by the trade unions should be kept on the agenda. The transnational information network of the trade unions is an important step forward.
Marco Cilento, counsellor (ETUC, Brussels) introduced the Union MigrantNet project, which is already operational. This is a portal in several languages, English, French and Russion, an accessible Net surface, including the availability of Info-Points useful for migrant workers, it has Chat and Forum functions, as well. Facebook based surface is making easier its use. Trade unions from France, Belgium, Ireland, Italy and Austria take part in the project, the next partner meeting will be in June 2015 in Brussels, new applicants are expected.
Mobility inside the Euopean Union: public sphere and non-covered needs of mobile workers
Klára Fóti, expert (EUROFUND, Ireland) examined in her presentation the access to the welfare system by the employees of the 10 Central and Eastern European Member States and by the employees of the „old" Member states. The research included the collection and elaboration of administrative data, as well, as interviews. The data collection was focusing on the characteristics of the migrants and on taking social benefits into advantage. The interviews prepared with migrants and experts, targeted the needs and opportunities of the migrants. The countries involved in the research were Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
The employees, who had arrived from the new member states earlier, had characteristically a wide range of employment, but this situation has been changed on the effect of the crisis. The number of immigrants was in 2013 the highest in the United Kingdom, this is followed by Germany, Spain and Italy, their rate is the biggest in Ireland that is 5%. The most important sending countries are: Romania, Poland, Bulgaria and Lithuania. In Germany the Polish people form the largest migrant group and the EU-10 states are the dominant countries. In general, it can be said that the average age of the migrants is far below of the average age of the population of destination countries, meaning that the younger age groups are dominant among them. The average rate of employment of migrants is 67%. Comparing them with the similar age groups in Spain and Ireland, the migrants have higher rate of employment. Their educational level is higher, the ratio between males and females is about equal, most of them are young.
37% of the Danish citizens and 23% of migrants take into advantage social benefits. In the United Kingdom the emigrants make less use of the social apartments, than the British citizens. The migrants - in lack of the necessary information and language knowledge - cannot acquire the social allowances.
Taks are: to decrease local social tensions, to support the social integration, stronger activities of trade unions, reduce the abuses committed by working power mediators. A Dutch example is a package: involving work and accommodation in one package. When the job is lost the accommodation is lost, too.
Lucrecio (Romania) raised the issue, how does the migration affect the social care system of the sending country? The family members of the migrant worker are staying at home, he should take care of them. There are missing his fees from the taxing, pension and health care system. The role of the private health care services is increasing. The migrant should return home in order to use the health care services.
Trade Union Case Studies: How the Trade Unions do inform the migrant workers and try to inolve them in the trade union movement – I.
Szabolcs Sepsi, counsellor (DGB, Germany) introduced the Deutche Gesellschaftsbund (DGB) which is an umbrella organisation of the member organisations. (In Germany the trade unions are based on industrial sectors).
In the framework of the „Fair-mobility" project help is provided for migrant workers coming from the new EU Member States (EU-12). The last 10 years were characterized by the liberalisation and the working power market and the extension of the outsourcing work. The role of social insurance was weakening.
The migrant workers are working typically in the meat-industry, construction industry in the services sector. They do not have relation with the trade union. In case of the non-paid wages a justice process should be started, but the trade unions are not competent in this field. There were opened 6 counselling bureau for helping migrants in Germany, one of them in Dortmund is offering help for Hungarian, Bulgarian and Romanian migrants. The staff of the bureaus can provide counselling in different languages. There was a lot of claims from migrants, regarding non-paid wages, termination of contract and labour safety cases. The possible steps are to seek employers and have a correspondence with them.
Most of the problems were raised in the meat-industry, where 90% of the working power is outsourced. The abuse of rights are very frequent (e.g. the Romanian worker should sign a contract written only in Polish language, and the worker can not learn its content, as he does not speak Polish). Cases for not getting the wages, or the wages are given into pocket, but the health insurance and pension fee is not paid. There is only a little chance to get a legal revenge. The migrant worker has a chance to enter into the local trade union.
Giorgio Casula, counsellor (CGTP-IN, Migration Affairs Division, Portugal) held his contribution about the Portugal employees, working in the United Kingdom. He added that the Portugal trade union prepares information booklets for the Ukrainian and Romanian employees. They are co-operating with other European trade unions.
The neo-liberalism in Europe caused the devaluation of labour, led to deregulation in the field of labour law. Economic problems increased and a crisis has been taking place in Portugal. Characteristic is the context between the decreasing salaries and the decreasing rights in Portugal. The prime minister recommended emigration. 10.5 Million citizens live in Portugalia and about 5 Million are working and living abroad.
The rate of immigrants is 4% in Portugal. As concerns immigrants in Portugal the profit is more, than the expenditures, there are more fees, than payments from the social insurance system. The xenophobia is becoming stronger and because of the crisis the situation of migrants is deteriorating. Up to now 350 thousand Portugal left, mainly to Germany, France, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Important objectives are the support for the sending countries, the fight against the Bolkenstein-directive, protection of the right of employees, protection of the trade union laws.
There is an effort that the Portugal migrants should be trade union members, where they are employed. The Portugal trade union have connections with the Brazilian, British, French, German, Swedish and Swiss trade unions in order to get support for their efforts.
In Great Britain the Portugal migrant employees meet a significant rate of xenophobia, their salaries are in general lower, than the salaries of the British workers. They set up cultural associations for protecting their interest, the employees organize themselves through these associations. They are organizing training events, preparing publications and operating a website.
At present 220 thousand Portugal is living in the United Kingdom, many of them are physicians, engineers. They feel so that they should support the people from Brasilia and Angola.
Giuseppe Casucci, Head of Division (UIL, Migration Affairs Division, Italy) emphasized in his presentation that the equal treatment of the employees is an eminent interest of the trade unions of both the sending and the receiving country. The interest of the employees is hurt, if they did not receive the same wages or if the labour safety measures applied are not the same for the immigrant and for the national employees.
The foreigners living in Italy were tripled between 2003-2013, their number reached the 3,5 Million persons. The rate of the foreign workers employed at Italian private enterprises - independently on the size of the company - have been increased between 2000–2008 from 8,82% to 17,7%.
The 2,4 Million migrant workers represents 10% of the total number of employees in Italy; majority are employed in the field of services, trade, construction industry and agriculture.
There are such sectors, where the rate of the foreign employees is decisive, 80% of the nurses, 26,2% of the workers in the trade, 21,7% of the workers in the construction industry, 15,9% of the agricultural workers and 12% of workers in the transport sector are foreign workers.
The presence of the migrant employees in these sectors led to the decrease of the general level of wages and decreased and weakened the trade union rights. The migrant workers earn with 23% less, than the Italian workers. This situation could be improved via collective agreements.
Taking into advantage the welfare benefits by migrants is increasing the xenophobia in the Italian society.
In Italy the number of the migrant workers has increased - against the crisis – which is unique in Europe. Significant rate of them is illegal migrant, working in the black economy, producing about 25% of the Italian GDP. The tensions between the Italian and foreign employees are more and more frequent.
General trend is that the companies are contracting the foreign workers with lower wages and do not make efforts for competing via innovation and improving the quality of the products and services. The rate of unemployment of foreign workers increased from 8% to 16%. The so-called ethnic unemployment is 16,3%, higher by 4,5%, than the rate of the unemployed Italian citizens.
100 thousand Italians and 43 thousand foreign citizens left Italy in 2013 for seeking a job in Germany or in Great Britain. In the last 7 years altogether 700 thousand Italian citizens left their home country to find a job anywhere else.
The unemployment fee for a 2-year period could help in survival of the crisis, yet many migrants are either taking a temporary job or leave Italy. The Italian trade unions have a double effort: to fight against the illegal migration and to support the legal employment of foreigners. In the period following the Arabic Spring, the government tried to stop the Mediterranean migration raised dramatically, the consequence of this effort was the strengthening of illegal migration and of the trafficking of human beings. The trafficking of human beings is a part of the global crime, representing a continuous danger.
The trade unions believe in the regulated migration, making possible the transparency in the employment. They can provide help by organising Italian language courses, by ensuring food as prescribed by the religious measures, to break for praying, and to ensure merged holidays making possible to visit family members who remained home.
Yet, the most important is to ensure the right for permanent employment; this is the precondition of the permanent residence permit, which has the highest value for the migrant workers and their families. The ultimate goal of the African immigrants is the family unification and acquiring the Italian citizenship.
The trade unions – which alliance 900 thousand foreign workers, among them 200 thousand people are the member of the UIL - play an important role in fighting back several bureaucratic obstacles. The 38% of the foreign employees are TU members, while the 30% of the Italian citizens are TU members.
Workgroup meetings on the improvement of the trade union cooperation for better information of migrant workers
At the afternoon of the 1st day 3 workgroups were formed, to discuss and form proposals for a better European trade union cooperation and networking in order to inform the migrant workers efficiently. The workgroups will debrief in the morning of the 2nd day of conference.
Second day: Friday, 16th of January
Recommendations of the Workgroups
Friday was started with the debriefing of the small-group brainstorming meetings on the formal and content elements of a leaflet, providing basic information for migrant workers.
Opinion of Workgroup 1.
Viorel Rotila (Health Solidarity Foundation) summarized the outcomes of the workgroup. The objective is to address all migrant workers with the leaflets, disseminated at passport bureaus, rest areas along international highways, airports, Important is to apply pictures, illustrations on the leaflet, to introduce good practices. It is not only for trade union members. The leaflet should have a form of a little leporello. Simple, well understandable wording should be used, legal references must be avoided in a leaflet. The material should involve information for migrant workers on accessibility of trade unions abroad.
Opinion of Workgroup 2.
Tania Warlock (TUC) summarized the outcomes of the workgroup. On the first page of the leaflet information for employees on the minimum wage, the length of the working hours, accessibility of workpower mediators. On the second page of the leaflet practical information should be available on traffic, accessibility to health care, to education, as well as addresses of embassies, accessibility of airports, railway stations, community houses, churches, post offices, internet-coffeehouses.
Opinion of Workgroup 3.
Szabolcs Sepsi (DGB) summarized the outcomes of the workgroup.The leaflet should be brief; it is worth to give the information in form of questions. The leaflets should be disseminated in long-distance coaches, at airports. The following information should be published in the leaflet:
- Types of the working contracts in case of employees or for self-employed workers.
- Warn the workers of the different forms of exploitations, as bogus/false forms of employments.
- The types of the social insurance, how you can pay in the tax and the health care fee?
- Do you need a residence permit in the country in question?
- The forms of the working rights protection, where you can turn for help?.
- What the trade union can do for you?
- Useful addresses, how to access?
Marco Cilento added that the publications or migrant workers should be distributed free of charge.
Trade Union Case Studies: How the Trade Unions do inform the migrant workers and try to inolve them in the trade union movement – II.
Robert Szewczyk, leading counselor (NSZZ „"Solidarność", Poland) mentioned that the role of the trade unions is decreasing in Europe. Many Polish workers is leaving to the United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden, and it is difficult to reach them. The crisis affects the situation, more and more people request legal help. The trade unions are sought only, if there was a problem.
Veselina Starcheva (Podkrepa, Bulgaria) spoke about that the emigration from Bulgaria is on a continuous increase, the problems are similar to those of in Romania. Bulgaria does not have a national policy on how to deal with emigrants or immigrants, which is not good for the country.
The Bulgarians are handled in Western Europe, as second-class citizens. Main target countries of the Bulgarian migrants are: Spain, Greece, Italy. The rate of trade union membership is low among them.
The advantages of the migration are that migrant workers can support family members remaining home. When emigrants return home, they will have more experience, they can bring home know-how.
The best practices of the Podkrepa are that they provide information and consultation free of charge. They inform migrant workers before they leave abroad, they publish information booklets, cooperate with the trade union of the receiving countries. 6 information booklets are available for the United Kingdom, Cyprus, Germany, France, Greece and Italy, respectively.
The living standards are low in Bulgaria, the number of the population decreased with 1,5 Million, people after the political-economic transition in Bulgaria. Young people do not find good perspectives, the salaries are very low. Number of citizens was 7.245.000 people on 31st December 2014.
The immigrants are entrepreneurs, mainly from China and Viet-Nam, they ensure their own existence.
Csaba Horváth (MSZOSZ, Project Manager for IGR project, Hungary) held his contribution on the implementation „IGR - Future in the border area – a crossborder cooperation program between ÖGB /Austria and MSZOSZ/Hungary 7 years long project. Historically the biggest economic crisis took place in 1990-91 in Hungary. Just after the political-economic transition of 1990, in a few months, 1,5 Million people became unemployed in Hungary, causing new situation in the life of the citizens. The Hungarian workers, mainly those living along the Western border, tried to find a job in the neighbouring Austria.
Austria attached to the EU in 1995 and those times an agreement was signed on commuter workers, who daily or weekly returned after workday(s) to Hungary. The number of working permissions was limited in Austria and the working power market was under a strict control. The Western Transdanubian area of Hungary could get a legal employment in Austria under this agreement.
The trade union representatives have been getting acquainted for 3 years with the Austrian societal policy and working rights system. As the number of the commuter migrants has been growing continuously, a reply was searched. The preparations to the accession of Hungary to the EU took several years, PHARE and INTERREG projects were realized, the cooperation became operational. Information bureaus were opened, the training and counselling had started.
The system of cooperation was built that time. Since 2000 became possible to submit project plans. The Austrians could receive Hungarian workers in the Iron industry, building construction industry and in the hotel- and catering industry.
In Hungary the trade unions had 3 Million members, although after 1990/91 they lost half of the members. At present there is only 450.000 trade union members in Hungary. In Austria there are 3,4 Million employees, among them 1,5 Million persons are member of the ÖGB.
Hungary joined the European Union in 2004. In 2007 an Austrian – Hungarian joint ETE project IGR „Future in the transborder area" started. Tha transborder trade union joint project was started between Burgenland and West-Hungary. It was jointly planned, jointly implemented, had a joint staff and a joint funding, the latter one was a post-financing system. Every action had to be planned beforehand, for a 7 years period. As a result of this project there is no significant unemployment in the West-Transdanubian area, and Burgenland is not suffering of working-power shortages.
The key data of the project:
Lead partner: ÖGB – Burgenland/Austria, Project Partner: MSZOSZ, West-Transdanubian Region of
Duration of the project: 7 years, starting by 1st January 2008, ending on 31 December 2014, extended up to 31 March, 2015.
Financing: 6,9 Million €, it was operating with post-financing.
The Austrian part of the project was about 5,4 Million €, in 50%-ban it was funded by ERFA and in 50 % by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Labor- and Social Affairs and Consumer Protection
The Hungarian part of the project was financed with about 1,5 millió €, in 85%-a ERFA funding, in 10% governmental funding and 5% MSZOSZ funding.
ÖGB Burgenland: 1 project manager, 1 financial manager, 4 project assistants, 2+2 lawyers
In the framework of the project 11 bureaus were set up
- in Austria: : Eisensadt - Neusiedl am See – Oberpullendorf - Oberwart – Güssing
- in Hungary: Győr - Sopron - Szombathely - Sárvár - Zalaegerszeg - Nagykanizsa.
The key-modules of the project:
Information, Networking, Education, Youth, Labour-safety, Atypical employment, Health Care,
Publicity, Project-management, Legal counselling (personal meeting, telephone calls, e-mail)
The results of the project: 12 youth roundtable discussion, legal counselling, information events, labour rights roadshow in the region, and publications from Hungarian side.
9 Hungarian publications were prepared and published between 2010-2014:
Labour rights, information for Hungarian employees (3.000 copy)
How to go ahead? Information booklet for beginner employees (3.000 copy)
Labour protection – Questions and answers (1.000 copy)
Legal basics for beginners (1.000 copy)
Basics- What you should learn about the new Labour Act (10.000 copy)
I became an employee. Information booklet for beginners (2.000 copy)
Working affairs documents under the new Labour Act + CD (1.000 copy)
Labour legislation Survival Package for employees (3.000 copy)
Basics – Family allowances and benefits
Austrian publications by the Lead partner:
Legal basics for Hungarian employees in Austria
Procedure for bankrupted companies
Act on Wages and against social dumping
Maternal protection, child care holiday, family benefits
Taxing obligation (annual publication)
Information on the agriculture
- Trade Union Forum in the Minor Region
Minor Regional Trade Union Forum
- Training, Professional graduation
- Human Resources Manager and OKJ training (66 person),
- Social Insurance and Wages (26 person),
- Working power market organisation and analyst (19 persons)
- Trade union officers – working rights education (multiplications education)
- Basic and Medium level German language trainings,
- ECDL computer training
- Industrial plant counsellors education
- Labour security representatives – professional education
- Human Affairs OKJ training OKJ-s képzés
Post-graduate Course for Human – Resources Manager
What were the results for the trade unions? In the last 7 years about 2.000 Hungarian worker entered the ÖGB, and 2500 person in the MSZOSZ, among them several persons were elected as representative of the industrial plant.
Austria does not have a Labour Act, as the state does not want to overregulate the working power market. In Austria there is 940 collective agreement in effect and this is regulating the world of the work, covering the 98% of the workers (exceptions are the masseurs, and the chimney sweepers).
With the help of the IGR project the Hungarian employees became the strongest in Austria, as about 74.000 Hungarian is working there. (The Turkish people had settled in Austria about 30-40 years ago, they are now second generation, integrated people, does not count migrant, any more.).
During the project years 66.611 person took part in personal counselling at one of the bureaus. The staff of the bureaus helped to fill 29.573 questionnaires, including tax declarations, application for family allowances, etc. – as the Hungarian workers are not used to the self-care of their affairs, they can not manage directly their official affairs, and their German language knowledge is not good enough.
From 2011 the Austrian Social and Working Power Act prescribes that the Hungarian employees should get the same amount of wages as the legal Hungarian workers.
In the field of legal counselling 6 lawyers, later 4 lawyers have been working, who should have learnt the relevant legislation of both states.
46 publications were edited during the whole project. Among them is an important publication what the employee should do if a bankruptcy is expected at the company where he/she is just working.
There are 4 training modules, among them postgraduate ones.
- 900 people performed German language courses, beginner and medium level.
- There is a computer course ECDL, German model.
- Home nurses are educated.
- Project management is also thought
- Industrial plant counsellors are also educated for trade unions.
- This way such professional training courses were organized, where those who were trained could get a good chance go get a job.
170 information events and public lectures were organized, in Austria an in Hungary, for several hundred participants, each.
The networking was also successful. The trade unions contacted national agencies, both in Austria and in Hungary, as of Taxing Authority, National Health Insurance Funds, National Labour Affairs Supervision Authority, and National Pension Fund.
140 cooperation were established with national, regional and local agencies.
Sunday training courses are held, for Hungarians living in Austria, which were very successful.
Youth Information Days were organized, for Middle School students, about the world of the work. They were introduced by this way to the World of the Work, in 17 cities, along the joint border.
At the end of the 7-year long project the important questions is how to ensure the sustainability of project results and to continue this very useful cooperation. This could take place with the counties/cantons, as there is no chance to have the same project with EU funding.
Stefaan Peirsman (ACV-CSC, Belgium) spoke about the old times, when a huge number of emigrans arrived in Belgium after the Second World War, mainly Polish, Italian and Spanish people. In 1964 an agreement was concluded with Turkey and Morocco on the regulated migration. In 1975 a migration stop entered into force.
The Belgian Trade Union has a counselling service operated since the 198-ies and 1990-ies. The structure of the migration has been changed since the 2000-ies.
Since the 1990-ies the xenophobia has been becoming stronger, the attitude of trade unions changed. The main goal is to support integration of migrants. The actual themes are: discrimination, to be multi-colour and migration. They have active relations with foreign trade unions. Their objective is the treat problems more efficiently, and acquires information about foreign employers. They have an active cooperation with the ETUC and the ITUC.
They prepare publications on migration, targeting migrants, published in 14 languages.
They let a legal bureau operated, protecting the law of migrants and representing them before the court, also represent the interest of the posted workers in the framework of the social dialogue. The sectors they deal with are the meat industry, the construction industry and the transport. Their next goal is to avoid the social dumping.
A supporting centre was established in Antwerp, especially for the employees arriving from the new EU member states. The counselling is performed by 8 professionals, 3 of them in the framework of EURES. The subjects of counselling are: social insurance, rights of the employees, taxing.
Joint actions are organized in the framework of international interregional trade union committees. They prepare publications, organize educational days and information events.
The „Multi-colour project" has been operational from 2003, counsellors participate in it.
Realizing diversive HR-politics they educate industrial representatives and trustees.
The target groups are: experienced workers, working power in disadvantaged situation, migrant employees, and an enhanced attention is turned to the gender equality. Preference is given for ensuring the same working conditions and being multi-colour.
Szabolcs Sepsi (DGB) introduced the website www.fair-labour-mobility.eu , which is realized in the European Fair Mobility project in a Bulgarian, Slovenian, Romanian and German cooperation. They operate a helpdesk, and the employees can have access to information yet in the sending countries.
They are dealing with posted workers, the self-employed people and those in legal status being employed. They serve with practical information, which are accessible in the national languages.
Information for migrant workers by trade union websites
Melinda Kelemen, project manager (LIGA) informed the participants that the project has its own website: www.migrantinfo.eu. The information related to the project, the partners, activities, useful links, video films, news, blogs, relevant documents can be found in this website.
Rosa Crawford, project coordinator (TUC) indicated that the TUC migrants website www.tuc.org.uk/working-in-the-uk is available in 13 languages, including Hungarian and Romanian.
Their website www.tuc.org.uk provides information on employment status and rights. www.tuc.org.uk/employment-status-and-rights, or www.tuc.org.uk/working-in-the-uk
There are two webpages on trade union membership: www.tuc.org.uk/join-a-union, www.tuc.org.uk/union-finder
They edit migration publications since 2004, mainly printed materials, providing information related to employees, as well as to self-empolyed people and posted workers and also regarding certain sectors.
Judit Tóth, expert (University of Szeged) asked, why aren't the relevant websites interlinked? The search engine should recognize keywords in several languages.
Marco Cilento (ETUC) replied that the ETUC is unable to coordinate everything. The development of a single information website costs 200 thousand €. The professional materials should be translated to more foreign languages, which also costs a lot.
Marco Cilento (ETUC) told that the long-term objective is to accept mutually the trade union memberships on a European level, but it is not yet operational. Under his opinion to pay the higher membership-fee in Western Europe would be more difficult for the „Eastern" members, although the services ensured for the members cost a lot. An example is that a Sapnish employee asks for help in Germany, than two trade unions cooperate with each other.
Stefan Peirsman (ACV-CSC, Belgium) told, that in Belgium only after half a year trade union membership becomes a member enttiled to the full range of their services.
Giorgo Casula (Portugalia) expressed his opinion that in certain sectors (as agriculture, constructing industry) there are a lot of employees, who cannot use Internet. Therefore it should be made accessible also for them the most important information, where they can find a job.
Closing the Conference
Melinda Kelemen, project manager (LIGA, Hungary) thanked for the participants and closed the final meeting of the project with the summary of its outcomes. Namely: the multilingual publications were prepared and distributed to the relevant people. The project website www.migrantinfo.eu was developed and will be operational at least for 5 years making possible the wide distribution of the project results and the relevant information for migrants. It can be also stated that the project had been very useful from the point of view of networking.