22 June, 2017IndustriALL Global Union and industriAll Europe held a European union communicators’ forum at the headquarters of VDSZ union in Budapest, Hungary.
The meeting, held on 19 and 20 June, was attended by 54 people from right across Europe, including Kosovo, Turkey, Russia, Bulgaria, Finland, France, Belgium and Germany. In an innovative attempt to reach beyond the room and communicate with as many people as possible, the event was streamed live on Facebook, reaching many thousands of people.
The meeting was opened by Valter Sanches, Luc Triangle and Tamás Székely, general secretaries of the host organizations. Sanches spoke of the constant refrain of anti-union messages in mainstream media across the continent, and of the urgent need for unions to use innovation to get their message across to a wide audience.
“We live in complicated times, and we can see the rise of populist nationalism. Eight white men have the same wealth as half the world. The owner of Inditex, a company we negotiate with, is among this eight.
“This is something very wrong.
“We can count on one hand the countries where unions are welcome. The media is controlled by corporations, and we hear many myths about how unions are bad. This is why we need our own media.”
After participants introduced themselves and their expectations for the day, Irish campaigner Eugene Flynn introduced a session called “Telling the union story - how do we hack mainstream media?” He spoke about understanding the way narrative works so that we can insert our talking points into the media.
“People are convinced by emotion. They then look for facts to support their conviction. If we are communicating to win people to our point of view, we need to remember this, and appeal to the universal and human aspects of the story."
Media consultant and former National Union of Journalists president Scarlett MccGwire spoke about the recent UK general election, and the success of the Corbyn campaign in capturing the public mood, and articulating a new, progressive politics.
On the second day, European Trade Union Confederation communications officer Daniele Melli spoke about the campaign for a pay rise for workers in Europe.
Participants expressed their support for the campaign.
“Trickle down doesn't work,” he said.
“But with a pay rise, wealth will perculate up. Decent wages and working conditions are a great way to stop the growth of reactionary, nationalist populism.”
MccGwire then spoke about adapting to a digital future, and participants discussed what works best in their unions.
What works for your union?
This was followed by a presentation on the work of IndustriALL Global and industriAll European unions, and how joint campaigning achieves results.
IndustriALL Global Union and industriAll Europe: who are we, and how do we work together?
The day was summed up with a presentation on the power of a network, and a practical exercise in which affiliates discussed the most effective ways to share information and build a structure that would allow them to respond rapidly to solidarity calls, while also collaborating on campaigns.
The power of a network