On the 16th and 17th of September the Social Platform held its second flagship conference in Helsinki, Finland, ahead of a ministerial conference on the Economy of Well-Being.
The conference saw the participation of numerous high-level speakers from the European Commission, the ILO, the Finnish Presidency and Ministry.
The Finnish Presidency of the European Union started in July and aims at adopting Council Recommendations on the economy of wellbeing in October. According to the Finnish Presidency, the economy of wellbeing is a “comprehensive tool for developing policy-making in the EU and its member states. Wellbeing policy and economic policy are not exclusive but are interlinked. The EU should also strengthen the links between gender equality policy and economic policy. Promoting gender equality, reducing inequalities, creating more employment opportunities for women and helping people reconcile work and private life are all key objectives in terms of sustainable economic growth”.
The 150 participants of the conference put forward the following recommendations on an economy of wellbeing approach that leaves no one behind:
The Economy of wellbeing encompasses a long-term approach, that…
- …looks at the impact of decisions and policies on people’s lives;
- …is based on a participatory governance structure;
- …ensures socio-economic and environmental justice for all.
As mentioned, the Social Platform is contributing to this process and during the conference in Helsinki, several workshops were organised by its member organisations with the purpose to address specific topics and provide relevant recommendations.
CECOP and SOLIDAR held the “Economy of Well-Being starts at work” workshop stressing out the importance of quality employment conditions and access to social protection for non-standard workers, and looking more particularly at solutions cooperatives can bring to workers in order to achieve well-being.
Luc Cortebeek, from the ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work addressed the audience with a keynote speech on the ILO’s Work for a brighter future report and stated, “If the economy is organised as it should, all workers can have a role in shaping their future, even though it is not the case at the moment. This needs to become a collective problem, rather than an individual one. So how can Europe become a better social level playing field?”
The Secretary General of SOLIDAR, Conny Reuter, in line with the network’s aspiration to advance social justice in Europe, insisted on the need to focus on decent work as pre-condition for wellbeing.
His call was followed by CECOP’s Secretary General Diana Dovgan’s intervention on the possible cooperative solutions to achieve quality jobs: “coming from the 19th century, it is safe to say that the worker cooperative model is not new at all; however it is still able to reinvent itself! And this is because it is controlled by the workers themselves – it is proven that when you give workers the means, they are able to find solutions to complex problems, like platform work, among others”.
Jarmo Hanninen, President of Coop Finland, CECOP’s Finnish member organisation, presented a concrete example on cooperative solutions for non-standard workers. His organisation accompanies free-lancers to establish and develop cooperatives in order to mutualise common assets and services. While the model works quite well since the 90s, the competition with the big platforms is making it very difficult especially for small cooperatives to develop and more cooperation with the trade unions is needed.
The Head of the International Affairs of the Finnish Trade Union STTK, Maria Haggman praised the ILO’s proposal for a universal labour guarantee and called for enhanced cooperation on democracy at work.
On behalf of civil society organisations with a special expertise on inclusion, Sian Jones, Policy Coordinator of the European Anti-Poverty Network took the floor to warn that the ILO report on the Future of Work does not put into question the economic system and does not tackle the topic of wealth redistribution at all. On non-standard work, she said, “many people don’t have access to social protection due to their employment status. We need to focus on adequate minimum income, rather than just wages”.
Speakers and participants drafted recommendations for the plenary, which will be presented to the Finnish Presidency in order to feed the debate on the economy of well-being ahead of the council conclusions.
- Decent and adequately remunerated work is a precondition of wellbeing.
- Request for a framework directive on adequate minimum income.
- The added value of social economy enterprises and cooperatives as they put people first before profits.
- ‘An economy that works for people’ dimension should be spelled out in the action plan for implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights.
- the Social Platform’s end-of-conference press release containing the recommendations here.
- All the recommendations here.