On the eve of the European Commission’s major employment policy conference Jobs for Europe the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) appeals to European policy makers to face up to the failure of austerity and adopt an alternative approach. As politicians, EU and international officials, academics, experts and the social partners gather to discuss how to build on the Commission’s Employment Package and in what way employment policies can assist Europe’s recovery, the ETUC reiterates that employment policy cannot compensate for failing economic policies.
The latest EU unemployment statistics are disastrous: unemployment has increased virtually every month for the past year reaching record levels. Over 25 million people are now out of work and behind the statistics are individual and collective stories of frustration, anger, loss, despair and, increasingly, personal tragedy. Worse is yet to come – the economic outlook is also bleak as the eurozone edges closer to a double-dip recession confirming the ETUC’s warnings that collective austerity and too ambitious deficit reduction would stifle the economy and lead to further job losses.
While the ETUC believes that some of the proposal set out in the Employment Package  warrant further discussion, European policy makers continue to focus on the wrong target. Structural labour market reforms in the form of deregulation of employment protection legislation, undermining or even dismantling collective bargaining structures, promoting ever more flexible labour markets and policies that increase precarious work will not create sustainable new jobs. Instead they will substitute quality jobs with poor jobs and make Europe’s workers even more insecure.
The situation is urgent: the ILO’s latest Global Employment Outlook confirms the bleak employment prospects for young jobseekers…