What should trade unions fight for today?

Trade Unions in many European cities mobilised demonstrations to mark May 1, International Workers' Day, yesterday. In Germany protesters called for a more social Europe, in Paris riots overshadowed the rallies and in Istanbul dozens of marchers were arrested. Commentators discuss which topics workers' representatives should be focusing on in today's world.

Open/close all quotes
Ouest France (FR) /

New tasks for the 21st century

The trade unions must modernise if they want to continue in their role as social mediators, Ouest France comments:

“In this uncertain world which faces major changes due to climate change and the emergence of new economic and political challenges, the intermediary organisations, starting with the trade unions, are of major importance. ... They can play a central role in creating a new and more social Europe. In France, however, they must resolve the disputes they inherited from the second half of the 20th century. They must take into consideration the changed expectations of the employees, who want flexibility as well as collectivity. Rights must be established for new ways of working and for areas such as health, ageing and continuing education.”

T24 (TR) /

Democracy needs the workers

Democracy and workers' rights cannot exist independently of each other, website T24 stresses:

“This relationship is mutual. On the one hand democracy and the rule of law are fundamental prerequisites for labour disputes. On the other hand democracy can only come about through a struggle led by the workers. ... In Turkey, the workers aren't organised and the unions are powerless. The biggest problems are growing unemployment, economic crises and inflation. ... The current authoritarian one-man system is foundering in an economic and political impasse, and has sparked a serious crisis. The burden of this crisis weighs on the working classes, with steadily rising inflation and tax hikes. The solution lies in the creation of a democratic constitutional state led by organised workers.”

Trud (BG) /

The class struggle will never end

Conflicts of interest between workers and employees are inevitable, writes Trud on the occasion of International Labour Day:

“The relationship between capital and workers has always been tense, and it always will be. There will never be peace, even if every day were May Day. For there to be work at all, someone has to take a risk and invest money. In return he will demand hard work from his employees. They will not be ruined like their employer if he fails, even though they bear part of the responsibility. So ask anyone what sort of people they would hire if they had a company of their own, and the answer will always be: hard workers.”