Interview with Giovanni Mininni on the ETF 2013 Congress

30 May 2013

Giovanni Mininni, National Secretary in charge of Fisheries in the ETF affiliated Italian union FLAI-CGIL, was interviewed by Livia Spera, ETF Political Secretary for Fisheries, about his impressions on the ETF 2013 Congress.

What will you remember of the ETF 2013 Congress?
For sure I will remember a funny anecdote, and I hope the German colleagues will laugh with me on this: in the mythical Germany where everything works perfectly, technology did not work very well this time and there was poor Wi-Fi connection in the meeting room and in the internet corners during Congress!
But certainly the most important moments that I’ll recall from this Congress are the interventions from the delegates and the debates that have shown how diverse working conditions in transport across Europe are. Exploitation of workers and very poor working conditions that we thought definitely overcome are spreading again in Europe, due to austerity policies and to the dominance of governments led by neo-liberal parties .This situation is very negative for European workers’ rights and contribute to impoverishing their salaries. This is a feature shared by several EU countries. A strong and unitary answer has to be given to this situation from the European trade union movement, which unfortunately has so far shown to be not strong enough to fight back. As a last point I would like to underline the unacceptable repression of the Turkish government against the workers and their unions.

What’s in your opinion the most important part in the main motion?
The main motion presents several crucial points for the future political strategy of the ETF and its members. No doubt the chapter on sustainable transport and to the related proposals is crucial not only as regards environment protection but also regarding the social role of transport. I would like, however, to emphasize the part of the main motion that concerns the future activities of the ETF Fisheries Section. This not only because my union represents fisheries workers in Italy, but also to highlight the work that the ETF Fisheries Section has been carrying out over the last years to put pressure on policy-makers in order to modify the original proposal from the European Commission on the reform of the CFP (Common Fisheries Policy). Such proposal presented several problematic aspects for workers, part of which the ETF has contributed to eliminate through the cooperation with several Members of the European Parliament. Unfortunately specific issues related to fisheries have not been included in the Congress programme and in the debates that took place during the three days of Congress. This is in my opinion the shortcoming of this Congress.

What are the next challenges for your sector?
The main upcoming challenge for the Fisheries Section is the reform of the CFP, for the possible side effects that its implementation could have on workers. Moreover, in my view, as important as the reform of the CFP is collective bargaining. Regrettably, several European countries, some of which having big fleets, do not have strong systems of collective bargaining in fisheries. In Italy fisheries workers are covered by collective bargaining agreements (CBAs), but I believe that the ETF should act to promote collective bargaining also in the countries where it is not yet a reality. CBAs are fundamental instruments to protect workers’ rights, to make sure that each and every worker in the sector benefits from the same level of protection, also taking into account that in fisheries questions such as safety at work are still far from being solved.