Intervention of Carla Cantone – General Secretary

The first act relates to the election of the President.
Before making a proposal I would like to thank Robert Racke for the work he has done in recent years.

Robert will continue to be actively involved in Ferpa’s trade union work.
But I would like to present him with my personal little gift and I want to do it here, in front of the Executive. It is a little thought that I am sure that he will appreciate because he’s a coin collector.

Now let’s move on to the proposal.

I’m putting forward Michel Devacht.
Michel Devacht has an excellent track record of trade union activity as an activist and as a leader.
Now if there are no objections, let’s move to a vote.
Michel Devacht has been elected with two votes against him. So I would like to ask Michel to take on the post as President and I will hand over to him the management of the work even if today’s task is to make proposals and therefore I will take the responsibility to put them forward.
We need to elect the Steering Committee which will then be convened at 10.00am on 12 November. The names put forward are :

Devacht Michel President
Cantone Carla General Secretary
Martinez Lopez Ana President of the Women’s Committee
De Graaf Dick FNV
Diez Merino Anatolio UJP – UGT
Douglas Ron TUC
Juhasz Lazslo MSZOSZ
Fumagalli Tino FNP-CISL
Ehsan Malik FGTB
Jasna Petrovic SUH
Siciliano Agostino UILP-UIL
Thum Werner OGB
Fabre Dominique UCR-CFDT
Simone Welti UNAR-CFTC

The Steering Committee has been elected unanimously.
The Financial Audit Committee elected at the Congress has been convened on 13 November at 9.30am for the election of the Chairman.
Those on the Committee are :
Jacotay Michèle France (candidate to become Chairman)
Cola Claudio Italy
Ravicini Sergio Belgium

As decided at the Congress, we need to elect the Working Group to discuss the Constitution that will be convened at 2.30pm on 12 November.

On the Constitution we need to clarify a few things because the form sent out needs clarifications.
Ferpa has a Statute and a Regulation.
We are talking about conclusively reconfirming the trade union nature of Ferpa. Ferpa’s Constitution can only be based on the fact that we are a Trade Union Organisation belonging to ETUC.
So it is about strengthening the Statute to specify trade union tasks and rules, taking in particular ETUC’s Statute as a point of reference.
We will start from the reconfirmation of values in the preamble, which says that : “Ferpa is part of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC).
The Working Group will make proposals that will subsequently be evaluated and decided on by the Steering and the Executive.
The names put forward are :
Dick de Graaf Netherlands (group coordinator)
Agostino Siciliano Italy
Werner Thum Austria
Diez Merino Anatolia Spain
Jasna Petrovic Croatia
Lajos Mayer Hungary
For the Financial Audit Committee : Michèle Jacotay, France
Fort the Women’s Committee : Jeaninne Martin, Belgium
Of course both the General Secretary and the President will have the right to take part when they deem it to be necessary.


26 October at 3pm
Carla Cantone, General Secretary

Hello again. This morning we took some organisational decisions relating to the President, the Management and the Statute.
Today, first of all I would like to reconfirm the programme that I presented to you at the Budapest Congress when you elected me and of course we need to be coherent with the political resolution of the 7th Congress, which was the outcome of a major discussion of the preceding meeting of the Executive.
The general document is our guideline but we need to plan our work with a medium to long term programme and therefore to plan the necessary priorities to take forward the strategies that have already been decided in past years, whilst looking ahead to new strategies too.
The strategies of ETUC and Ferpa need to be finalised to have a better Europe for all the citizens and therefore also for pensioners and elderly people.
We’re talking about a social Europe based on universal rights of citizenship such as : dignity, democracy, liberty, social justice, work and respect for the work of social dialogue among trade union and institutional representatives.
We’re talking about a social Europe and a Europe of work as the ETUC Congress and the Ferpa Congress have indicated.
It is a better Europe for men and women, young people, children and the elderly.
So we need to set ourselves precise objectives and strategies in the medium and long term to be achieved in two stages :
1. By the time of the middle of the assembly’s term of office ;
2. By the time of the next Congress.

We will do it together with all of us discussing and taking part in choices that we will take from time to time in the Executive, in Management, in the committees and in the Working Groups.
But above all we will do it with ETUC, taking part in every meeting and thereby developing our requirements in full recognition of Ferpa’s role within ETUC.
We are not an independent trade union. We are an affiliate trade union that must be fully recognised in all its aspects by ETUC.
Ferpa has been asking for this for eight years. If we have not had results, the responsibility lies with everyone, including us.
We must therefore make Ferpa’s work more productive here in Brussels but we must also strengthen the Trade Union of pensioners in every country, and in every form that it takes, because, as you know, organisational models are not totally the same. Even the model for joining and for registering for the Trade Union differs from country to country.
It is about organising ourselves, being present, mobilising ourselves in support of the people that we represent and winning trade union members for our organisations.
I stress this point because we should be very careful not to underestimate how important it is.
If we do this, within ETUC and in Europe Ferpa will also be strengthened and will gain in terms of its authority vis a vis ETUC and towards the policy in which Ferpa should be regarded as a recognised and respected organisation.
We need to convince countries that are today outside Ferpa by their own choice to join Ferpa. We need to set ourselves the aim of representing all the countries, agreeing on the most useful modalities to achieve this aim and to allow every country to be recognised in Ferpa.
Gaining trade union authority means having the power and the possibility to take forward social policies, rights and needs for pensioners and the elderly.
So we need to build a strong sense of unity among pensioners and elderly Europeans who account for more than a quarter of the population today and will account for one third in 2030. There are millions of them, a huge number of them, a huge force that needs to be represented to combat those who want to weaken the welfare state and welfare in every country.
Active ageing is an important issue that needs to be taken up.
As you know, I have planned meetings with all the trade union organisations of the countries that belong to Ferpa.
Up until today I have met three countries, five are planned, and in the coming days I would like to fix appointments for the remaining countries.
And my plan is to have meetings with all of you and to finish by the end of March 2016.
These meetings have not been and will not be bureaucratic but about the issue of our trade union commitment and about the problems of the elderly and pensioners.
I plan to meet you in the various countries at least once a year.
I also intend to plan, with the help of ETUC and with your help, meetings with the countries that do not belong to Ferpa.
That includes countries in northern Europe, in the Baltic countries and others too.
It will not be straightforward but I intend to try to do it.
Today I want to tackle two work plans :
1. Organisational ;
2. Trade union policy.

The organisational work plan
As for today’s Ferpa, I need a good level of knowledge about it. Therefore, to organise it better, it is not enough to have the names of those who are part of the bodies (Executive, Steering, Financial Audit Committee, Women’s Committee).
The names and the organisations are not enough. I would also like to know the responsibilities that you have in your countries. Today’s responsibilities.

If I ask that it is because there good reasons for asking. We need to respect the composition of the bodies and the participants need to be designated by their trade union organisations. One does not take part in a personal capacity but with regard to the Ferpa Regulation. Too many changes to every meeting are not a good thing. There needs to be continuity in terms of attendance.

I suggest the following commitments to you :
1. A form has been sent to you in which I ask you for very detailed information. Please be precise and specific.
2. I would like certain information on the payment of the fees of your confederal organisations to ETUC. Obviously the fees that concern pensioners and what the modalities are.
3. To get to know possible agreements with the categories of the active pensioners on the registration to the trade union when they stop working.
4. Through its General Secretary Ferpa is committed to organising the website because it is not updated and is therefore useless.
The website is business and identity card. Many of you have pointed this out to me. You are right. It needs to be rebuilt. I am looking for volunteers in Italy who will commit to working on the website free of charge. Unfortunately costs are always a problem. But I will see how to resolve that. I am well underway on that.

Second work plan : trade union policy
On the trade union policy plan, I propose the following points :

1. I would ask you to send me, by December, a brief report or forms that sum up the conditions of pensioners and the elderly in your countries on :
The pension system, the health and welfare system, the lack of self-sufficiency ;
A note on possible trade union agreements with the governments of your countries or the requests.

2. Ferpa here in Brussels needs to overcome the little visibility and little influence it has towards ETUC and towards the European Parliament.
I took part on 20 October in the first meeting of the Social Protection Group on the pension system and on the report with the European Commission.
I intervened, I introduced myself and I supported the fact that Ferpa wants to take part in every initiative.
I agreed with Montserrà Miro that we need to keep meeting and working together.

3. We need to promote exchanges between countries and bilateral meetings. I will try to organise them.
4. We need to meet the meet the social organisations for volunteering and for cooperation that deal with the elderly whilst always distinguishing between and separating the roles, tasks and functions.

Ferpa is a trade union organisation but we must meet them whilst respecting our and their autonomy. Meeting them is useful.

5. We need to relaunch the ICE for elderly and fragile people. We will talk about it with Henri tomorrow morning.

6. We need to take up the charter for the rights of the elderly again. I would like to develop a manifesto that is visible in all the countries.

7. We need to schedule a meeting with the youth from ETUC to counter with them those who want intergenerational conflict.

8. We need to take forward, with greater energy, both the projects of the Women’s Committee that have already been adopted and the new projects. We will talk about that tomorrow when we elect the new President.

9. I think that every year we need to launch a campaign in favour of male and female pensioners and the elderly. We need to choose a theme. The crisis has engendered a lot of poverty. There are more than 50 million poor people and most of them are elderly and children.

I think that a campaign could be on “energy poverty” due to the cold and the heat. Other ideas, which I will talk about with the Management, will be discussed at the next meeting of the Executive, which is scheduled for 3 and 4 March 2016.

I have no doubt forgotten something that I ask you to suggest to me in your interventions, both on the organisational and political level, which are all priority projects.
It is the minimum and not the maximum that I intend to do.
I’ll stop here because the list is already very long.
Our real challenge is to bring home results, even gradual ones but results nonetheless.
For this purpose we need to seek alliances also in the European Parliament, for which I ask you to help me meet MEPs who, in your view, are useful, those from your countries.
You should point out to me and help me to have conferences. Obviously those that concern the trade union.
European policies on social issues are fundamental and will be increasingly the subject of European decisions by the European Parliament and the European Commission.

Our work has not been easy in recent years and it will continue to be difficult. But we and ETUC need to keep trying.
To do it we need to make Ferpa authoritative and recognised. It is a huge challenge.
We need to organise ourselves better, be more active and, first and foremost, believe in Ferpa.
Maybe we need to change our habits and renew ourselves by thinking that being in Ferpa bodies is not a bureaucratic fact nor a responsibility for simple recognition but a major commitment for the work that we must do and for the role that Ferpa needs to play.
Let’s try to change and strengthen Ferpa all together.