This week, in conjunction with Jean Lambert MEP and CESI, the European Independent Trade Unions Confederation, we held a parliamentary breakfast meeting on EU Labour Mobility – what role for Trade Unions and NGO’s. Building on the input of our members and our policy paper on EU freedom of movement we discussed with MEP’s, researchers, employers, commission officials and others how to address the gaps in the provision of social assistance often experienced by EU migrants. We talked about the lack of information, the confusion of legislation, the potential criminalisation of service providers and the discrimination that is more and more apparent in how some Member States, and indeed society, can view EU migrants. The role of NGO’s and Trade Unions as advocates, care providers and representatives was welcomed but at the same time I asked if we should have this role? What I meant was should it not be the responsibility of governments to ensure that public employment agencies know the correct application of the law and that local municipalities understand how fundamental rights work? But then Agnes Jongerius, an MEP from the Netherlands talked about fear and hope. She talked about how people who experience exploitation or social destitution are often in fear and additionally are unheard. The voices are ignored. However, Trade Unions and NGO’s can bring hope and be people of hope and can defeat fear and silence with hope and noise.
And I suppose that this is Diaconia – covering fear with hope, changing silence to powerful, justice-seeking noise. That is the responsibility we have and perhaps sometimes doing that means we have to do things that others should be doing.
Questions around EU mobility will continue with the publication of a labour mobility package later this year. We hope it brings more hope than fear – and even so, our members will keep bringing hope regardless.
Have a good weekend,