The ETUCE Central and Eastern European Network (CEENET) meeting was the first pre-conference event held ahead of the ETUCE Conference (6-8 December 2016 in Belgrade). The participants discussed the future of the network and evaluated the work conducted during the  first two years. Representatives  from ETUCE member organisations in Georgia, Ukraine, the Russian Federation, Slovenia and Bulgaria outlined the key achievements and challenges at stake in their countries.

In the afternoon, six workshops took place discussing recent policy developments in Europe and education trade unions’ priorities in different education fields:

  • The Higher Education and Research (HER) workshop, which was attended by trade union representatives of HER, particularly addressed terms of employment  of higher education personnel, such as permanent employment contracts and professional development. The participants also discussed the importance of the teaching component in the academic career and addressed the need for governments and higher education institutions to provide appropriate and supportive employment conditions to higher education personnel.
  • In a parallel workshop, participants debated the current developments inEarly Childhood Education (ECE). The ET2020 sets a target of 95% participation of children (from age 4 to school enrolment) in ECE. The participants recognised that special challenges confronting  this objective are that ECE is not obligatory in all countries, and that demand is higher than supply. Migration and austerity measures further challenge the sector. At the same time however, low salaries and qualifications of early childhood educators continue. The participants in the workshop discussed how education trade unions could better support ECE workers.
  • The Equality Capacity Building Workshop addressed discrimination against  women and young professionals in the teaching profession, particularly regarding recruitment, retention and representation in leadership positions and democratic structures. Following the report on the achievements and recommendations developed by the ETUCE Standing Committee for Equality in 2013 to 2016, the equality priorities of the new work programme were presented and the workshop participants exchanged good practices and ideas on how to promote capacity building for education trade unions on retention and recruitment of women and young people .
  • The workshop on Continuous professional development (CPD) discussed challenges in the field of CPD for teachers. Apart from an often weak supply of training opportunities  lack of employer support and accessibility issues were discussed. The participants collected ideas on how trade unions could support their members to better ensure that every teacher can participate in high quality professional development.
  • The participants to the European Social Dialogue workshop assessed the state of play of social dialogue in education both at European and at national level. The participants expressed their concerns about years of  trends towards unilateral decision-making by governments, disregarding social dialogue structures and processes. The European Commission’s initiative “A New Start for Social Dialogue” marked a new impetus for social dialogue. The members of the workshop emphasised that the promotion of social partners’ structures across European countries remains a high priority in the ETUCE work programme for an effective European Social Dialogue.
  • The workshop on the topic of Education Trade Unions on the Refugee Situation in Europe addressed the issue of building education trade unions’ capacity to face the challenges and respond to the needs and opportunities presented to education systems in Europe with the influx of migrants and refugees. In line with the EI Strategy and Action Plan on Migrants and Refugees that focuses on proactive initiatives for education trade unions to protect and promote the rights of refugees and migrant children, teachers and other education personnel, the participants in  the workshop exchanged good practices and ideas on promoting education as the key to integration and inclusion, and how to build education trade unions’ capacity in this field.

View the Conference website here.