Strengthening FIA unions in Central and Eastern Europe

FIA Projects Publications

As a trade union federation, FIA is committed to providing assistance to performer unions around the world as they seek to improve terms and conditions for their members and drive equitable and respectful employment practices in the arts and entertainment sector.

With the creation of a regional sub-group gathering affiliates in Central and Eastern Europe, it has become apparent that – despite the disparities among them in size and experience as well as their national contexts – they nevertheless share a number of common challenges, some related to the EU accession, some arising directly from their shared socialist past and some stretching further still in their common history. Among these, one of the most pressing needs is to grow union representativeness among a largely atypical workforce and to develop the engagement of employer counterparts to a meaningful social dialogue, with a view to promoting higher labor standards in the live performance and recorded media sector. Having successfully applied for EU funding, these unions have embarked in a joint capacity-building project to reinforce their common endeavors. This allowed them to undertake a series of study visits to sister unions from outside the group and from across the EU, in order to draw on successful organizing strategies and approaches in other countries.

The project, now completed, has delivered a wealth of best practices with respect to membership outreach and recruitment, communication, engagement with employer counterparts, with policy-makers and other stakeholders – thanks to several immersive peer-learning experiences in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK, where FIA affiliates have a strong track record on organizing, bargaining and adapting to change. Despite the challenges brought about by the sudden outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the drastic measures intended to harness the spread of infection, all outstanding project work could be carried out successfully in a virtual environment, including two training sessions with senior trade union organizers meant to improve the strategic planning of FIA affiliates in the region, often challenged by limited resources and a reluctance among young performers to take up union membership.

At a final restitution event, held online on April 30, 2021, FIA affiliates in the region delivered compelling evidence of the progress made since the early start of the project, with some managing to negotiate their first collective bargaining agreements and most others developing a clear-cut strategy to grow their presence and authority within the industry.

A handbook, offering a snapshot of the rich variety of practices that emerged in the course of the study visits, is available in English, French and Spanish. It describes various approaches to engaging performers into membership and looks at how a selected number of unions in Western Europe have learned to work with stakeholders and employers in the best interest of their members. The concluding section of the handbook draws practical conclusions from the many examples showcased, suggesting ways to apply the lessons of the project in a home context that is often challenging and sometimes under-resourced. These practical and action-orientated tips advise unions on how to approach daily challenges and build a structured approach to planning and union action.

– Handbook of Best Practices_EN

– Handbook of Best Practices_FR

– Handbook of Best Practices_ES

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