European social dialogue experiences and perspectives
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EUROPEAN SOCIAL DIALOGUE: EXPERIENCES AND PERSPECTIVES. ILO seminar, Piestany, June 2009 [email protected] Structure of the presentation. The past: Recalling the history of the social dialogue The present: From social moratorium to attempts to organise social regress.

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EUROPEAN SOCIAL DIALOGUE: EXPERIENCES AND PERSPECTIVES

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European social dialogue experiences and perspectives

EUROPEAN SOCIAL DIALOGUE: EXPERIENCES AND PERSPECTIVES

ILO seminar,

Piestany, June 2009

[email protected]


Structure of the presentation

Structure of the presentation

  • The past: Recalling the history of the social dialogue

  • The present: From social moratorium to attempts to organise social regress.

  • The financial crisis: The future of the European Social Dialogue


Part i

Part I

  • The Past : Where do we come from?


The deal between commission and trade unions in europe

The deal between Commission and trade unions in Europe

  • ‘No one can love a market’ (Jacques Delors)


Internal market is necessary but not enough

Internal market is necessary but not enough!

  • Why have an internal market?

    • Key word = competition between firms

    • Intense competition will lead to innovation and productivity

  • However, key question is how companies compete with each other

    • One way: To invest in innovation, new products, new techniques

    • Other way : Cut-throat competition at the expense of workers…as well as innovation. Example of Siemens-BenQ (and many others…).


Correcting the internal market the european social dimension

Correcting the internal market: The European Social dimension

  • European Social Acquis to build a social level playing filed for competition in the internal market

  • Agreement on Social Policy ,annexed to the Maastricht Treaty (1991): Formal role for European Social partners to be consulted and to conclude agreements on working conditions

  • Possibility of social partner agreements being made binding European social directive


Social dialogue procedure and different stages art 138 139

Social Dialogue: Procedure and different stages (art 138, 139)

  • Covers all proposals in the ‘social field’

  • Mandatory consultation

    • First stage: Social partners advise whether Community action is necessary

    • Second stage: Opinion on possible content; social partners can also decide to start up negotiations. If they do, Commission can not start up work of their own over the next nine months.


Social dialogue procedure and different stages art 138 1391

Social Dialogue: Procedure and different stages (art 138, 139)

  • If European framework agreement is reached, two options to implement it (erga omnes):

    • According to the national procedures and practices of the Member State

    • Council decision on a proposal of the Commission (after joint request of European social partners) (with Council required not to touch the substance of the agreement)


Social partner agreements implemented as eu directive

Social partner agreements implemented as EU directive

  • Equal Rights for Part-time workers

  • Putting limits to fixed-term work

  • Parental leave

  • Principles jointly underwritten by ETUC and European employers:

    • A-typical work to remain exception, not the rule

    • Comparable rights for part time workers

    • Part of the European Social Acquis


Social partner agreements implemented by national social partners

Social partner agreements implemented by national social partners

  • Most recent agreements

  • Telework

  • Stress in the workplace

  • Voluntary ? Part of the European Social Aquis?


Based on the belgian french tradition

Based on the Belgian/French tradition

  • Social dialogue, supported by the state

  • Autonomy of social dialogue but with politics behind it to drive the dynamics of social dialogue

  • A tradition not shared by the UK and Nordics (for very different reasons)


Part ii

Part II

  • The present

  • Barrosso’s Commission counter attack:

  • We do love the Internal Market


A trend break in objectives

A trend break in objectives...

  • Major shift in objectives: ‘Growth and jobs’ first.

  • Famous ‘Barrosso’ line: ‘A good father cares the child that is sick, not for the children that are in good health’

  • Put bluntly ‘Competitiveness first, social Europe (perhaps) later’

  • The internal market as a Trojan Horse: More competition in the Internal Market will automatically force member states down the road of deregulation, weakening wages, working conditions, social security and public services


New european policy making in practice

New European policy making in practice

  • Services directive

  • Social policy agenda becomes a ‘social agenda’ (2005-2008): Lots of ‘green books and overviews’, not a single policy proposal

  • Unice’s demand for a social moratorium implemented!

  • Idem dito on green book’ on labour law: possibility to draft new European policy ruled out (after one letter from Unice/BDA)

  • Laval and other related ECJ cases

  • Flexicurity discussion: Protect the worker, not the job

  • So, pressure on workers’ side …with the directive on agency workers as the one exception


How did the european social dialogue react

How did the European Social Dialogue react?

  • Employers see an opportunity, try to turn the EU social dialogue around

  • Employers’ strategy and agenda:

    • To approach Social Europe from the angle of ‘economic analysis

    • Showing the case for bussiness friendly (de)regulation, probably also back tracking previous social framework agreements such as ‘fixed-term’ fex


Joint analysis of the challenges of the european labour market

Joint analysis of the challenges of the European Labour Market

  • Key to the Social Partners’ work programm 2005 to 2008

  • Employers’ strategy and agenda:

    • To approach Social Europe from the angle of ‘economic analysis

    • Showing the case for bussiness friendly (de)regulation, probably also back tracking previous social framework agreements such as ‘fixed-term’ fex)


Example analysing the better jobs deficit contractual arrangements

Example : Analysing the ‘better jobs’ deficit: Contractual arrangements

  • While open ended contracts remain general rule…

  • ….there is a worrying phenomenon of a structural trend for fixed term work to increase independant of the business cycle:

    • 1997: 11,7%

    • 2000: 12,6%

    • 2005: 14,5%


Analysing the better jobs deficit contractual arrangements

Analysing the ‘better jobs’ deficit: Contractual arrangements

  • Other issues:

    • Rising share of part- time jobs, with a rising share of involuntary part time jobs, and with rest of part-time conditioned by lack of work/life balance

    • Conspicuous shares of ‘self’ employed workers : Fake independant work! (Greece, Italy, Poland)


A typical work stepping stone or rather a trap

A-typical work: Stepping stone or rather a trap?


Stepping stone or trap

Stepping stone or trap?


Labour law section

Labour law section

  • Recommend ‘to review, and if neccesary adjust, the design of labour law and job protection

  • ‘with a view to’

    • Ensure balance between flexibility and security. Provide adequate security for all contracts

    • Develop complementary employment security measures

    • Enhance legal certainty with regard to scope, coverage of labour law

    • Respect the European Social Aquis

    • Promote stable employment relationships

    • Improve work/life balance


Battle won on paper

‘Battle’ won on paper

  • What about reality of politics ?

  • Joint analysis becomes ‘flexicurity’ opinion

  • Impression in public opinion is created that European Social partners ‘agree’ with mainstream (Commission) approach: ‘Protect the workers and not the jobs’


Part iii

Part III

  • The Financial Crisis and the future perspectives for the European Social Dialogue


The return of mass unemployment in europe

The return of mass unemployment in Europe


May s jobs summit

May’s Jobs Summit

  • A new attempt undertaken to do a joint declaration on ‘action to adress the current crisis’.

  • A draft declaration scoring some points to our advantage (fex need to do more for the real economy, not only for the banks/ generalisation of temporary unemployment systems with decent income).

  • However, also a possible trap: Cutting non wage labour costs (for the lowest wages only or for all wages).

  • …and a refusal even to mention ‘high and rising inequalities’.

  • Learning from experience: Joint declaration refused by ETUC Executive.

  • Commission reaction and follow up communications simply go ahead:

    • Cut non wage labour costs for all workers; challenge is to prevent company failure; ‘flexicurity’ in times of crisis

    • while ignoring the critiques and proposals of the ETUC


Summing up

Summing up

  • Eropean social dialogue has its moments of success

  • Danger of becoming an instrument to be used to support the political case for deregulation and less Social Europe

  • Thread carefully : We can’t throw away the baby (the EU Social Dialogue) with the bathwater (Deregulation drive)…

  • .. nor can we sign up to anything and have the EU social dialogue function as a means of pressure on national trade unions (‘you’ve agreed to this at EU level so why not at national level?’)

  • Keep it alive untill there are better times and meanwhile try to limit the damage. More discussions, less joint statements ?


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