The ETUCE special conference was organized on July 5-6. in Liège, Belgium. The conference offered the member organizations an opportunity to gather together to build common goals and think about ways to strengthen the appreciation of the work of teachers and other workers in the education sector.
ETUCE (European Trade Union Committee for Education) is the umbrella organization of European trade unions in the field of education. It operates in 51 countries and represents a total of 11 million members across Europe. ETUCE was founded in 1977 and in 2010 became an integrated part of the global Education International (EI). ETUCE's main goals are, for example, to promote EI's goals in the European region, to represent its member organizations in EU meetings and to support the development of independent and democratic educational unions in Europe.
The theme of the conference was commitment and activities of trade unions and organizations in Europe. The purpose was also to evaluate goals already achieved so far, and to work on the strategies set in December 2020, which are intended to strengthen the dialogue in the education sector and to make education systems more effective throughout Europe. Speeches were given, for example, by the Belgian regional ministers of education, various researchers and the general secretary of EI. The topics were especially education and digitalization, citizenship and participation and issues of sustainable development.
OAJ was represented by chairwoman Katarina Murto and head of international affairs Christer Holmlund. OAJ's head of education policy, Jaakko Salo was also present. He is a member of the ETUCE board.
The themes of the conference were commitment and activities of trade unions and organizations in Europe and securing the attractiveness of teaching profession. Focus was particularly on enabling high-quality public education, and its benefit in improving the status of teachers and other educational personnel. The situation in Ukraine was also discussed.
Katarina Murto brought up the long tradition of OAJ's social dialogue in her speech on the conference's resolution on the commitment of trade unions. "The good dialogue between the Finnish government and the labor market organizations has created good basis for us to develop Finland's education policy and also to highlight demandingness and workload of teachers' work," says Murto. Murto also emphasized OAJ's continuous work to correct challenges in the education sector. Although there are many disadvantages, it is important to highlight the positive aspects of teaching as well. In this way, teaching will continue to be an attractive worklife option. OAJ also thanked resolution for noticing young people, because they are the future of our organization, Murto says.
The good dialogue between the Finnish government and the labor market organizations has created good basis for us to develop Finland's education policy and also to highlight demandingness and workload of teachers' work.
Murto also spoke about the conference's peace resolution regarding the situation in Ukraine. OAJ has strongly condemned Russia's military attack and the war in Ukraine. We have expressed our support for cooperation between international teachers' organizations to achieve peace in Ukraine. We have also shown support to Ukrainian refugees and educational organizations, says Murto. When the war started in February, OAJ immediately decided to suspend its cooperation with the Russian teachers' union ESEUR. For these reasons, OAJ considers the ETUCE peace resolution good and gives its support. OAJ continues its solidarity with Ukrainian students, trade unions and citizens, says Murto.
OAJ continues its solidarity with Ukrainian students, trade unions and citizens.
Jaakko Salo spoke in his supporting speech about ETUCE's policy paper, especially about increasing the attractiveness of teaching and reasonableness of teachers' workload. OAJ wants to underline the importance of teachers' well-being at work and limit their workload. COVID-pandemic has widely highlighted the social importance of teaching. At the same time, teachers' work on the front line of the pandemic has increased their workload. Now we need to work for recovery of teachers so the attractiveness of teaching can be ensured in the future.
COVID-pandemic has widely highlighted the social importance of teaching. At the same time, teachers' work on the front line of the pandemic has increased their workload.
Now we need to work for recovery of teachers.
Salo brought up the OAJ's Shaping futures campaign, which aim is to bring out the significance of teacher's work and make it more visible. In the campaign Finnish celebrities have recalled the positive effects of their teachers on their lives. Find out more about Shaping futures campaign here.