Background information

EU 2019 Conference on "Trade Union Practices on Non-Discrimination and Diversity"

Compared to 2010, the number of reports about discrimination at work on the ground of sexual orientation has mounted.
This disturbing outcome of a study in the European Union Member-States was one of the topics discussed at a meeting in Brussels on the 17th of October, 2019.

Human rights and the principle or equal rights have become one of the fundamental principles on which the European Union is based.
A discussion about how to protect people in all areas of social life against discrimination based on all the grounds the EU acknowledges still needs to get to a final conclusion. Nevertheless, the protection in the area of work is legally arranged.
And the European Union policies agrees that trade unions have an important role to play in the battle against discrimination - including the discrimination of LGBTQI+ workers or applicants.

(Picture: the panel)

Almost ten years ago, the European Commission ordered a study about the trade union practices on non-discrimination and diversity. BR> ICF (a global consulting services provider) recently wrote a follow-up study about this subject.

For practical reasons, gender-based discrimination was not included in the study, but it does consider the grounds race or ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation and gender identity as well as multiple discrimination and intersectionality.

The conference in Brussels was aimed at sharing information about the study and encouraging trade union representatives and others to share good practices. A part of the ICF study includes description of good practices. A panel (with Tiina Astola, Rossella Benedetti, Jane Pillinger, Ludovic Voet, Nadja Salson and Susan Milner) discussed the current situation and the solutions.

The ICF study was discussed in the month before the Eurobarometer results will be made public, and the conference participants also got some information from the next Eurobarometer figures.
Examples from various countries were discussed. They varied from the impact of trade unions on new legislation, such as the lobby by the Italian CGIL for the legal recognition of same-sex partnerships in Italy to actions by the Spanish CCOO gender and sexual diversity group leading up to LGBTI-inclusive several clauses in collective labour agreements.

The interest for the conference was overwhelming. Registration facilities were closed well in advance before the conference, since the rooms in the Brussels hotel would not allow more participants.

(Picture: the panel)

A high information density in the morning programme kept people alert, and in the afternoon smaller workshops discussed questions about action perspectives for both the European Commission and the trade union people were member of.
Although the coffee, tea and lunch breaks offered some space for informal exchange of information, the compact programme of one day could not allow a lot of networking.

(Picture: One of the slides: not very optimistic situation under the previous administration in Italy)

But probably, there will be more discussion about the topic in time. The fact that in the new European Commission (probably starting in December 2019) will be the first to have a Commissioner with only Equality in her portfolio without having to deal with other issues, might be a positive sign about the importance of the subject.

To be continued!...