Elevating Professionals & Managers for decent work in the digital age


Elevating Professionals & Managers for decent work in the digital age

Day two of the UNI Professionals & Managers meeting kicked off with a presentation from South African finance union SASBO explaining their awareness raising campaign that managers can – and should – join their union.

It was a fitting start to a day dedicated to elevating the awareness of P&Ms about their rights and raising the profile to this group of workers in the labour movement.

Carles Català fom CC.OO in Spain spoke about why unions are needed in professional fields in his country. Multinationals often hire contractors in Spain for projects who give unrealistic deadlines. This forces workers, particularly in STEM areas, to work long hours and through the weekend. He called for works councils in these fields along with more organizing and raising awareness of the benefits of union membership for professionals. He cited the strikes in the finance sector as an example of P&M workers using traditional trade union tactics to push for results. 

Supporting the message of Català, Ricardo Calderon, of Fesuc, Chile, told participants about the massive economic cost of mental health and stress – not to mention the human toll. P&Ms are particularly exposed to “technological stress” and mental fatigue are more affected, and this has serious health implications, such as lack of sleep, increased instance of substance dependence, high blood pressure, and other ailments.

Sister Malini Subramaniam of UTES Singapore spoke about ways her union is furthering professional development as a solution to many problems P&Ms face. Her union’s job redesign and upskilling support, often through company training committees, help workers meet challenges they face.

On a similar note, Prem Kumar Makkar, AIBOBOA, India, talked about how elevating P&Ms is necessary to “drive meaningful organizational change, inspire the broader workforce and navigate challenges with resilience and innovation.”

After these presentations, the challenges and opportunities were clear, and the time to set the stage for the coming four years was upon us.

The P&M Conference unanimously elected a new president, Daniel Valtakari of the Academic Engineers and Architects (TEK) in Finland. Valtakari is a long-time trade union leader, who in addition to his position as senior advisor to TEK is the UNI Europa P&M Vice President.

He said, “Putting our issues into a global context, we have to encourage professional and managers to become and remain organized and to set an example for others. P&Ms enhance unions ability to negotiate with management and educate and train union members. In a digital world, P&Ms can help trade unions adapt to a new environment.”

Valtakari praised outgoing P&M President Ulf Bengtsson. “He has been a mentor to me,” he said. While UNI General Secretary Christy Hoffman lauded Bengtsson’s forward thinking on AI and the role that P&Ms should play.

Ulf accepted a gift of appreciation from Hoffman, and called on the unionists in the room to be rising together as we take on new challenges.

Participants also elected new global presidium composed by the regional representatives: Marie Christine Lébert, UNI Europa ; Simone Baía, UNI Americas; Bro. Prem Kumar Makkar, UNI Asia & Pacific;  John Aboradze, UNI Africa.