Published: 22/01/2002

Strengthening organizing and bargaining power within transnational hotel and catering companies was the dominant theme at the 11th conference of the IUF HRCT Trade Group, held in Malmö, Sweden June 18 to 20. One concrete result of the in-depth review of union work within specific TNCs was a commitment for joint work between unions organizing within the Hilton/Scandic company.

Conference delegates took positive note of the latest contacts between the secretariat and the catering transnationals Sodexho and Compass, as well as the efforts made by the secretariat to ensure proper implementation and respect for the IUF/Accor agreement on trade union rights. A network of researchers in the HRCT sector is being built to strengthen the secretariat’s capacity to react quickly to any request for information and action on transnational companies.

The conference devoted specific attention to the challenges facing unions in the fast-food and institutional catering sectors where flexibility, precarious contracts, low wages and violations of trade union tend to be the rule. A working group will be set up to discuss common policies to facilitate organizing the many unorganized workers in the sector and to encourage active implementation of the principle of reciprocity of affiliation laid down in the IUF rules.

The conference also encouraged the secretariat to assess the need for developing regular contacts with intergovernmental institutions like the World Tourism Organization, employers’ organizations such as the International Hotel and Restaurant Association (whose president Einar Söder addressed the conference) and non-governmental organizations active in the tourism sector. Regular contact with these various organizations was considered essential for assuring that labour movement views were properly taken into account in the growing public debate on issues like ethical behaviour in tourism, tourism industry sustainability, commercial sexual exploitation of children through tourism etc.

Resolutions were adopted in support of the struggles for trade union rights at the Shangri-La Jakarta Hotel, the Belgrade Hyatt Regency, the Laguna Hotel in Zagreb and Autogrill in Italy, along with a resolution authorizing a fact-finding mission to Cuba to determine the relevance of establishing contacts with the trade union in the HRCT sector.

Nicos Epistithiou (OEXEV Cyprus) was re-elected president of the Trade Group, as was first vice-president Birgitta Kihlberg (HRF Sweden). The position of second vice-president will be shared on a rotating basis between Helena Burgess (BIU Bermuda) and Kunio Akiyama (Leisure Service Rengo Japan). The conference expressed its deep appreciation for the work of retiring vice-president Hiroshi Sawada.

See a full report of the conference and resolutions adopted on the members only site.