Summer | Editorial of the Secretary-General Klaus Heeger

Dear colleagues, dear members, dear friends,

As we go back in our memories and remember what has happened, as we read your emails, the ones we have sent, the ones we have received, for instance in February: Didn’t our state of mind, our ways to work, our planned travels and meetings and travels and meeting and travels and meetings, seem…naïve or immature in a way? Are these the right words?

 “In a split of a second our lives changed; they toggled, from maximum speed, hasty travels and countless meetings, to frozen inertia, cold distance and silent incredulity, I wrote in my April editorialAnd now, where are we? We are back in restaurants, cinemasmuseums, and theatres. Brussels´ streets are empty. Not because of the lockdown, but because many have left for the summer holidays.  

Don’t you think that, after all, we as citizens, societies, states (and not least the EU) didt do so bad? Don’t you think that, after all, as we have been put to the testwe maybe did not completely fail? Clearly the difference between relatively responsible and irresponsible governments has become brutally visible if one compares most of our European leaders with some narcissistic reality-ignoring ones in the world.

If the pandemic has been good for one thing, it is that it unmasked impostors, showing that a virus does not care about alternative facts and the loss of any sense of reality.  

This is not to discharge our governments – as trade unionists, we were, in our view very rightly so, outraged about the lack of protection of our workers in the public services to face such crisisespecially at the outset and peak of the pandemic. The large recovery packages which were then tied at national and European level are probably not sufficient, but they are major signs of determination to do whatever it takes. And as Germany takes over the Council Presidency, the fight against the pandemic, the recovery from the great lockdown and not least Brexit will be the top priorities. What is at stake, is of unprecedented importance for Europe and the EU – and Merkel appears like the Messiah himself. A lot will depend of concrete decisions taken and directions are given. But even more, will depend on solidarity.  

As we are trying to live normal lives again, as we are mourning the dead and licking our wounds, as we are expecting second waves, new and even worse viruses in autumn and, anyway, in the years and decades to come, as we are preparing for a global recession of –4.9 per cent in 2020 and an even worse one for the EU and the eurozone, with tremendous impacts on jobs, incomes, poverty and inequalityIt is a moment to brave the future.    

What we can see (and feel) is how strongly trade unions are needed, in times of crises more than ever. The many interviews I had the privilege to conduct in the frame of our new CESI Insides series, revealed incredible support for trade unions´ work, both at national and at EU level. And I am very grateful, I feel privileged, for having experienced such approval – especially in these difficult times.  

Thank all for you this priceless support, for this commitment and dedication!  

Take care of yourselves and of each other- and see you hopefully very soon after summer in … our new offices.