On 30 September 2015, the ETUC 13th Congress adopted an emergency motion on the European refugee crisis which firmly deplores the recent loss of lives of asylum seekers in the Mediterranean. New rules are needed in EU Member States to ensure that the dignity of these people is safeguarded.
Speaking on behalf of EFFAT, Swedish President Therese Guovelin addressed the Congress and highlighted the role that we, as unions, must play in this crisis.
In representing the agriculture, food and tourism sectors, EFFAT has gained a wealth of experience in welcoming migrant workers and is convinced that social dialogue is an essential means towards a faster and smoother integration into the labour market and society at large.
Using Sweden as an example, Therese showed that agreements between employers and unions can be extremely beneficial to asylum seekers even before they are granted refugee status. "We call it fast track to integration", she said addressing the Congress, and added: "we assess migrants' skills in their own language during a two-week period, based on their previous work experience and in a work place where collective bargaining agreements are respected, with equal pay and fair conditions. If extra training is needed, this is paid for by the government. A first agreement has been signed by the Swedish Hotel and Restaurant Workers' Union (HRF) and the Swedish employers' association, and I hope more sectoral agreements will build on this success".
Similar solutions can and should be found, if and when jointly discussed on European, national or plant level. Trade unions need to follow best practices and increase social dialogue in order to alleviate the crisis.
The ETUC emergency motion can be found here