|Profesor Milan Katuninec during his speech at the WOW seminar on the Social Dialogue in Europe|
Profesor Milan Katuninec of the Slowakian Trnva Univeristy spoke on the WOW seminar on the social dialogue in Europe. We have the pleasure to publish here the first of three important partis of his speech that can be useful for trade unions elsewhere in the world.
"Despite different developments of trade unionism, we all agree that the trade union movement must be an important part of civil society. But from 1989 there has been a widespread decline in the trade union membership in all central and east European countries. Poland has a level of union density of less than 15%, Hungary 16,8%, Czech Republic and Slovakia 17%, Bulgaria about 20%, and only in Romania is the density with 33% above the EU average.There have been many attempts to explain this negative trend and I know that we have no time to deal with them in detail. I will mention briefly only some of them.
One reason for this is a large structural change in the industrial breakup of enterprises that have not been competitive in new market conditions, the privatization of enterprises and new companies with transnational capital. During the period of reckless privatization, there was a weakening of the position of the trade union movement in many enterprises, the basic social rights of employees were ignored, and the market economy was reflected in the uncompromising assertiveness of the unrestrained capitalism. Most of employees who remain today in the trade union organizations are working for former state-owned companies. People, who have been sacked and have experienced unemployment, are less likely to join again a trade union after finding a new job, because they have lost trust in the trade union movement.
In Central and Eastern Europe as well as in many west European countries where the unemployment grows, trade unions are losing their power. We can see in our countries a failure of active social policy, which emphasizes prevention of social problems by taking action „ex ante“. There is a growing number of young people in Central and Eastern Europe without any work habits, without having to learn that nothing is free.
There are 35.6 % young people in Slovak Republic unemployment and many of them are loosing active interest in work. They are without personal responsibility and roam the streets. This people, without acceptation that the borrowed money should have to be paid back, are living on state support without any hope for better future. In an unhealthy environment the importance of future and the strategy focused on goals of serving the common good is often underestimated, and the attention goes to the negotiations for solving of accumulated problems. In such an environment we can not wonder that the view of young people on the social policy is significantly different from the view of the older generation, for whom unemployment is a huge shock. But there also are different views among young people."