The second day of Congress began with the celebration of EFBWW’s main achievement during the last four years.
In the last four years, unexpected developments affected Europe and the world: the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, staggering inflation causing a cost-of-living crisis, threats to democracy and attacks on human and workers’ rights. Despite the difficult context, the EFBWW and its affiliates did achieve significant progress in many areas.
Our fight to stop asbestos deaths finally resulted in a major victory for our workers. The European institutions approved new legislation that will better protect construction workers from asbestos: the occupational exposure limit will be reduced to 2,000 fibres per m3 (50 times lower than the current limit), investments in training of workers and better prevention will be scaled up, asbestos encapsulation will be banned.
Fight social dumping and labour crime
Our subcontracting campaign brought the voice of subcontracted workers to the political heart of Europe, calling for an end to exploitation in subcontracting chains and demanding new rules to promote direct jobs and limit subcontracting. In 2019 we launched an official complaint for “illegal state aid” against the unfair posting bonus in Slovenia. After years of lobby work and campaigning, the scheme will finally be abolished. We contributed to an ambitious resolution that was adopted by the European Parliament, asking for new digital enforcement tools and sectoral social ID-cards to increase transparency and safety on construction sites. With the support of the European Commission, we have started a project to look at a possible EU legislative framework in this area. The construction sector is taking the lead and showing the example.
The EFBWW welcomed the goals and objectives of the European Green Deal and successfully lobbied for an ambitious Renovation Wave. We focused on skills and quality jobs in the revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive demanding for a just transition that leaves no one behind. We successfully pushed for the inclusion of the cement sector in the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism.
Organising and gender mainstreaming
Confronted with a declining membership and at the urgent request of our affiliates, we made the first steps in the field of organising with several workshops and training seminars. We adopted a policy paper that sets a clear framework for an own EFBWW organising strategy. This will be one of our strategic priorities in the next Congress period. Following the adoption of a resolution on gender at the last Congress, the EFBWW published a practical manual for gender mainstreaming in sectoral collective bargaining agreements.
Covid-19: Health before profit
In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a stand-still. We reacted immediately and went digital with the speed of light. We created an online space to assist our affiliates to exchange information and good practices. Together with our sectoral social partners, we lobbied the EU institutions to secure a central role for our sectors in all the EU economic recovery programs and available funding.
To safeguard its operating capacity, the EFBWW took important decisions towards financial and organisational sustainability. We strengthened our advocacy and lobby work. We made important investments to improve our internal and external communication, experimented with campaigning techniques and engaged in alliances and partnerships. We continued and increased our commitment to social dialogue. We strengthened social partnership in construction, wood and forestry and cement. The many joint initiatives and projects are good examples. At international level, the EFBWW and BWI strengthened their cooperation. Our combined efforts pushed the International Labour Organisation to recognise occupational health and safety as a fundamental workers’ right.