Antti Palola, Chairman of the Finnish Confederation of Professionals (STTK) opened the Baltic Sea Trade Union Network’s (BASTUN) meeting in Vilnius.
Dear Madame Minister for Social Security and Labour, dear friends in BASTUN,
On behalf of the SAK and STTK I have the pleasure to wish you all welcome and open this High Level Meeting here in Vilnius.
I only wish we could meet in more happier times: the ongoing war in Ukraine, the terrible situation of the trade union movement in Belarus, rising rightwing populistic tide in Europe and – indeed even in my home country Finland. The rightwing government is trying to weaken the trade unions and the workers’ rights as well as to cut the benefits of the people and break down our welfare society. These all are issues we need to address and take into account in our daily work as trade unionists
BASTUN is a regional network in the Baltic Sea area. We often face similar challenges at the same time. In the past years we have addressed issues such as Social Dialogue and Collective Bargaining, Mobility of Labour and how to fight against growing poverty and inequality. Unfortunately these issues have not disappeared from our so called to do-list and as we all well know, the work will continue day after day.
In this Finnish presidency, however, we would like to widen the topics to Human Rights to remind ourselves and others that trade unions are in their cores all about human rights within societies.
Also, the environmental questions cannot be swept under the rug even though they seem less acute in the light of recent events in Europe and the world. We need to discuss the Green transition and more importantly, what Just Transition means to labour, quality jobs, education for workers and just distribution of possible wealth resulting – just socially, regionally and ecologically.
I hope we will have fruitful discussions today and we can share our knowledge together. My colleague from SAK, Katja, will later explain working progamme for our presidency in more detail.
Once more, I wish you all warmly welcome to this meeting and I also wish you all a fruitful seminar and constructive debate.