Claude Lambrechts, CNE Belgium

After my studies in the field of social aid, with a focus on collective action, I was lucky enough to be hired in 1986 as an animator in a permanent education movement for women and to discover the aspirations and problems encountered by different generations.

In 1987, at the age of 22, I was able to get a more stable contract as a permanent trade union official in an interprofessional trade union federation of the CSC. That's when I really discovered machismo and sexism, both in the workplace and in the union. My objectives were to look for women candidates for the social elections, to organize the trade union service for women and to organize training for them. The function also included other tasks, such as being on duty to receive members and deal with individual cases, and organizing meetings of delegates, women and men, in a geographical area. The exchanges and solidarity of permanent colleagues in other regions, as well as the advice and support of close colleagues, were very important to me. In 1996, after a training course for adults, for three years, one day a week, I became responsible for the training of workers' representatives. In 2003 I was hired by the CNE, a professional trade union center, first as a regional representative and in 2006 as National Secretary for several sectors, Business Services, ICTS, Transport and Logistics, ... The work consists of organizing and training activists in these sectors, negotiating national sectoral agreements and getting involved in international trade unionism. I have also been responsible for Action Femmes CNE and until now for the international action Women for CNE. Defending legitimate rights and improving working conditions, while not losing sight of the gender dimension, is a permanent challenge. Assets to succeed in a trade union career and to keep going? To be organized to reduce stress and to be able to reconcile work with a private life, to have the capacity to listen and to empathize, to keep morale up and a good dose of optimism to move forward, despite the difficulties, so as not to be only in defensive struggles and to obtain new gains. After 36 years in this profession, what are the reasons for satisfaction? The progress towards a better balance between women and men within the trade union organizations and in the different places of consultation and negotiation, as well as a better integration of the gender dimension in the claims and agreements. The pleasure also of the multiple encounters; women, men, from working class or employed, from all origins and cultures, engaged in various struggles, small or large... what a human wealth.... Let's remain vigilant for the future and let's not give up!