At the ETUCE Special Conference in Athens, Greece, on 27-28 November 2018, the European education trade union movement kicks off new priorities for shaping the future of Europe and the role of education trade unions. 300 education trade union delegates from 132 national education trade unions at all levels of education from 51 European countries debated and voted on several resolutions to face the challenges teachers and other education personnel are confronted with and to put forward their vision for quality education as a landmark for fairer European societies as a vital prerequisite for democracy.

Renewing their call for increasing public investment, effective social dialogue, equality and equity in education, respect for the status of teachers and educators, fair working conditions, and reclaiming the legitimate collective power of education trade unions whose existence allows individual teachers and educators to organise in order to assert control over all aspects of their work and of their profession, delegates adopted the following resolutions:

President Christine Blower opened the second ETUCE Special Conference in Athens on Shaping the Future of Europe: The Role of Education Trade Unions. She was followed by the presidents of the DOE and OLME welcoming the delegates to Greece. EI General Secretary David Edwards addressed the delegates and outlined the global challenges confronting quality education and teachers in worrying times of populist, extremist, nationalist and xenophobic movements gaining consensus. To counter the influence of private actors in education, especially where their activities in education have a negative impact on access and exacerbate inequities within education systems, EI is committed to the Global Response to the Commercialisation and Privatisation of Education. The campaign calls on all education trade unions to develop a global response to ensure governments fulfil their obligation to provide free and quality public education.

Framing the conference theme, the European Director Susan Flocken highlighted the need to defend education against privatisation and commercialisation, to face broader societal challenges and fragmentation through collective actions and through intensifying organising and servicing efforts amongst the most marginalised and under-represented with solidarity actions. It is in this context that ETUCE is launching a new Europe-wide campaign to “Shape the future of Europe with teachers”.

Three honoured guest speakers prompted and inspired discussions. In his speech on Trade union renewal: building capacity to support effective social dialogue, Professor Howard Stevenson from the University of Nottingham pointed to the challenges and changes facing the teaching profession and the needs to organise around ideas to develop ‘unionateness’ as central to professional identity, to develop skills and capabilities of members in order to increase the participation and engagement in unions’ work. Mr Sjur Bergan, from the Council of Europe, broadened the discussion reflecting on the role of education in developing democratic cultures, based on valuing human dignity and cultural diversity, democracy, justice, fairness, equality and the rule of law, on knowledge and critical understanding. Eventually, Ms Susanne Conze from the European Commission, Directorate General for Education and Culture, described the European policy initiatives for up-ward convergence of quality education systems across the European countries in the framework of the European Education Area by 2025.

One-day of side events preceded the Special Conference, allowing for in-depth discussions on specific challenges and priorities for education trade unions on innovation in education, equality and equity, new forms of employment, communication and campaigning, trade union rights and on migration. The ETUCE Central and Eastern European Network (CEENET) met prior to the Special Conference to evaluate the work conducted during the first 4 years of the network and to discuss future priorities. Trade unions’ leverage in policy making and trade union rights were in the focus of the meeting. Representatives from ETUCE member organisations in Serbia, Croatia, Kyrgyzstan, Albania and Lithuania outlined the key challenges and achievements in their countries.

For a glimpse at the event and its side-events: ETUCE on Twitter and #ETUCE2018

Speakers’ presentations and speeches

Photo gallery