All for one, one for all - Jean Lapeyre

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Jean Lapeyre, Deputy Secretary General, European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC)



Dear friends,


First I would like to thank you very much for the invitation and on behalf of European Trade Unions Confederation to wish you all the best in our joint action for the success of the European year of people with disabilities.


This year must be the opportunity to mobilise opinion and to reinforce our struggle to insure the same right to jobs, training and dignity for the people with disabilities.


In employment, training, education or housing, the battle for equal rights and dignity is far from being won.


For example there are today three times as many jobless people among the disabled than in the rest of the population.


Although some housing has been adapted, the situation of persons with a disability is a long way from being routinely considered in architectural projects; town planning, or in access to public buildings or sports and cultural centres. The same is true of transport.


There is a chronic shortage of places in the ordinary school environment for children with disabilities. Not to mention the lack of preparation and training for the staff responsible for receiving, supporting and educating these children among and with the others. Yet integration should start at school.


In the context of economic globalisation; which makes the weakest members of society more vulnerable, it is the social responsibility of the European Union to organise the solidarity in the context of the enlargement, Solidarity is what characterises the European Social Model. That's the reason why we ask to integrate the Social Charter of fundamental rights in the Treaty.


All these rights to jobs, to education and training and to dignity should be the subject of a special Directive deriving from the framework directive adopted on 27 November 2000 "establishing a general frarnework for equal treatment in employment and occupation" which is now being transposed, but sometime with some delay or weakness into the legislation of Member States. In cooperation with NGOs working with people with disabilities organised in the European Disability Forum, the ETUC is calling for the Commission to take the initiative in launching a debate on a such directive.


I would like to underline the excellent cooperation we have between us. The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and the European Disability Forum (EDF) have organized a joint European conference, in Thessalonica (<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Greece) from 1St to 3rd March, as part of the 2003 European Year of People with Disabilities, to reiterate their mutual commitment to equal opportunities in terms of access to the labor market and training for disabled persons.


At this conference I must stress that together we have announced our opposition to the war in Iraq calling for a peaceful solution within the framework of the United Nations.


The Declaration of 17t" January 2003 by the Social Partners, UNICE and CEEP for the employer's side and ETUC for the Trade Unions, , confirms and reinforces the commitment of the Social Partners and calls for further action to promote the employment of disabled persons.


This commitment must lead at national level and at company level to concrete measures to encourage the recruitment of disabled persons, involving changes in the work place environment, reintegrating or keeping disabled persons in employment or an equivalent job without loss of rights when the disability occurs during a worker's professional life, equal career development opportunities, ideally with incentives to employ disabled persons. Additionally the balance between professional life and family life for workers with a disabled child, parent or partner should be taken into account through measures such as reduction of working hours, additional allocated leave days, while maintaining the full benefit of social and professional rights.


In Thessalonica ETUC and EDF called for all employers' organizations to assume their social obligations with regard to equality of treatment for disabled people in employment, education, training and career development, particularly in cases of collective negotiations.


ETUC and EDF hereby commit themselves to working together during the European Year of People with Disabilities and in the future within the framework of a common strategy to protect and promote the rights of disabled people, particularly:

·        at the national level by strengthening co-operation between trade union and organizations representing disabled people and their families

·        by promoting exchanges of good practice in the field of employment and professional training through joint publications

·        at the European level, by setting up a permanent common working group on training, qualifications and employment of disabled people, which will be the subject of a joint seminar in 2004.


As trade unions we want to be side by side with you during all this European ye~r and well over this year to succeed in the fight against discrimination


"All for one, one for all" that's the slogan launched by ETUC for the European year.


"One for all" means that everyone is unique but also everyone is of equal value. No one can be left on the margins of society through discriminatory policies.


"All for one" means that to make progress down the same road, we need solidarity, working together.


Thank you very much