Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Invited by its Danish affiliate, the board of the European Organization of WOW held a 'strategic day' in a special training centre of KRIFA in the north of Jutland. Here we se during breakfast on the left side of the table board member Mara Erdelj from BOFOS, Serbia. Next to her Soren Fibiger Olesen president of KRIFA and our host. Next to him you see executive secretary Bjorn van Heusden and treasurer Rolf Weber from KRIFA. In the foreground on the right side of the table Roel Rotshuizen president of WOW and secretary general of CNV Dienstenbond. In the kitchen you see Wolfgang Pischinger, board member and President of the Christian Fraction of the Austrian trade union GPA-djp.
The debates on the future strategy of EO/WOW were guided by Helene Riis Lindholm from KRIFA (on the photo she is the only one standing). She speaks German and English. Before starting the strategic debates, the board had agreed on 4 main goals: growth (financial,  membership and representativeness), more solidarity activities and funding, more influence on European level (European Commission and Parliament) and exchange of experiences (seminars and other international activities). The road to these 4 objectives was symbolized by climbing a mountain, as you can see on the photo behind Helene. 
The sessions started by a small training in how to deal with dreams and/or ideals. Each of us was asked to share his dream he would like to realize within 2 years. Then he had to walk through the 2 lines where the others made sounds that support his specific dream. As you can see everybody was listening carefully to the dream of our board member Valère Jung of CFTC France.
We were invited by Helene to an imaginary New Year Happening of the year 2015, to celebrate that we had reached our goals as specified during our sessions we were holding. It was a short break to the future to help us better understand the present. It helped us as a team to get a sharper aware of our goals.
The next day - Wednesday 30th of January -  we were invited to have breakfast together with all employees working at KRIFA headquarters in Aarhus, Denmark. The delegation was announced on the screens in the restaurant. From left to right: Guenther Trausnitz, president of EO/WOW, Wolfgang Pischinger of the FCG/GPA-djp, Soren Fibiger Olesen, President of KRIFA and Adalbert Ewen of the German CGM.
An overview of the restaurant with in front the EO/WOW board members. Everyday at 9 o'clock in the morning all KRIFA employees are invited to come to sing together and to share the information of the day. it was a nice experience to see how KRIFA combined motivation of its employees with information and communication.
After our KRIFA breakfast we went to Hotel Legoland in Billund to have our regular EO/WOW boardmeeting and to assist to the EU seminar organized by KRIFA and WOW with the support of EZA and the European Commission. Standing before the Legoland Dragon from left to right: Solveig Baekkgaard Maksten from KRIFA, assistant to the seminar, board member Mara Erdelj from Serbian BOFOS and myself.
The rest of the day the EO/WOW board held its regular meeting in one of the rooms in the Hotel Legoland Congress Centre. Going from left clockwise you see president Roel Rotshuizen, treasurer Rolf Weber, Adalbert Ewen, Valère Jung, executive secretary Bjorn van Heusden, Wolfgang Pischinger, european president Guenther Trausznitz and Mara Erdelj.
Thursday 31 of January was the first day of our two days European seminar on "What reason for existence do trade unions have in a market with declining support?" The seminar was opened by KRIFA President Soren Fibiger Olesen, host of the seminar, Guenther Trausznitz as European President and as you see below EZA President Bartho Pronk.
 As a former Member of the European Parliament EZA President Bartho Pronk challenged the EU trade unions  - if necessary -  to force the European Union Countries to respect the social paragraphs of the EU Lissabon Treaty. Trade Unions should even think about the possibility to go to court. 
An overview of the seminar room with participants coming from Spain, Romania, Serbia, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Croatia, Cyprus, Portugal, Macedonia, Malta and Ukraine. ( more than 50 participants from 17 countries). The seminar languages were English, German and Spanish
From Lego employee Helena Jensen the participants got a short training in communications.  They had to sit in pairs of two, with its backs to each other. Only by communicating with words -not seeing - one should try to build the same Lego helicopter within 15 minutes. It was not easy. To come to a common result one must communicate very clear and precise. On the photo we see working on the project UHM Secretary General Josef Vella (left) and UHM President Jesmond Bonello from Malta.

Laust Hogedahl from the University of Aalburg analyzed "The future of trade unions in a Danish context". The traditional trade union confederation LO lost the last decennia hundred thousands of members while a smaller union like KRIFA has grown more than 200% in the same period. Laust investigated why workers prefer one trade union for another. Ons of his conclusions is: "wage earners decision for joining of leaving a trade union consists of a mix of utilitarian and normative motives which must be seen in relation to the price of the membership fee when you have a market with competition as is the case for Denmark." Another conclusion is that "the flight of members from LO unions to alternative unions (mainly KRIFA!) is mostly due to utilitarian arguments (to save money) but the LO unions close relation to the Social Democratic Party has also facilitated the flight of members." After his presentation there was room for questions and remarks. The same happened during all presentations held at the seminar.
KRIFA's chief executive officer Jesper Mengel explained the seminar audience about how "being an attracting union in a market with declining support". As you can see on the photo it's Jesper's conviction that a trade union should create a strong vision, a vision that helps your union to climb a mountain, motivates your staff and attracts new members. You cannot change the people but yes you can change yourself and your organization.
EO/WOW President Guenther Trausznitz (on the right) introduces to the seminar audience Knud Norbo from the Human Resources Department of the Danish Jyske Bank. He spoke about "what employers do expect from the future cooperation with trade unions". The Jyske Bank believes that cooperation with trade unions is necessary for the future of his bank. Cooperation with trade unions gives more stability to labour and working relations at the company and it motivates workers to do the best for the company. The challenges for the future are: the pressure on the 'Danish model' (flexicurity, European/Danish government interference in agreements, declining union organized employees), individualization (global mega-trend), changes in ways of production (no common working times), changing work-life balance, need for more local empowerment.
STING Secretary General Jasna Pipunic had the floor during a panel about how "being an attracting union in a market with declining support". Jasna used the opportunity to explain briefly the  history, vision, mission and basic values of STING in Croatia, that soon will become a member state of the European Union. The two other members of the panel, Wolfgang Pischinger and Gunther Trausznitz, explained how their union FCG/GPA-djp succeeded in maintaining membership and even to grow a little bit.
Last speaker of the seminar was Guy van Gyes from the Belgium Higher Institute for Labour Affairs from the University of Leuven. He spoke about "the future of trade unions in a European context". Like all other speakers before him he confirmed that on European level there is a downward trend in trade union membership except in the Scandinavian countries and Belgium. Statistics show that between 60%  and 70% of the workers still believe that unions are necessary while around 50% really trust trade unions. Besides many other challenges like those mentioned by foregoing speakers, Guy believes it is necessary to establish a community experience in a large network organization which means the trade union.
On the first day of the seminar KRIFA invited all participants for a visit and a dinner with music at their headquarters at night. The new building was opened in june 2012 ( A NEW HOUSE FOR THE DANISH CHRISTIAN TRADE UNION CONFEDERATION KRIFA) . Here you see the photographer and Rolf Weber preparing us for the 'family photo' of all seminar participants.
During the visit KRIFA employees gave sightseeing tours through their headquarter's offices. On this photo the Spanish speaking group with Martine Grislain (in red jacket) as translator. On the left you see Allen Brunn from KRIFA and further clockwise Gonzalo Postigo (ASIPA), Fernando Serrato (ASIPA), José Javier Rebato (FEC) and Ovidi Noguera (FEC-CAT).
During the office tour we passed by the KRIFA call centre that is working from early in the morning until late in the evening. It is one of the very important services for the members of KRIFA. Allen told us that the employees of the call centre can handle 80% of the calls. The other 20% of the calls has to be channeled through others.
After the sightseeing tour the seminar participants was offered a drink and a dinner with music. On the photo left you see executive secretary Bjorn van Heusden, KRIFA board member Ib Horup (red pants). On the right you see CNV Dienstenbond President Dirk Swagerman talking to Ken Tobiasen from KRIFA, who gives a helping hand to the WOW administration.

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