Social dialogue: employers and workers across EuropeOn December 13, 2019 by Raul Dinwiddie
It’s more or less 30 years now that we have a successful social dialogue on European level, built upon successful
social dialogues in all our member states. So this sixth working programme for the
European social dialogue, I think, is a very strong signal to all institutions
that we are ready to take up our share of responsibility, that we are ready to work in the right direction and that we are ready to take up the key challenges on the labour markets, like digitalisation, skills shortages and well-being at the workplace. Companies very often need to be competitive on a global scale. In order to do so we need to make sure that we grasp the opportunities of digitalisation. But we know we have a skills gap, we know that we need to make sure that we will have enough digitally skilled people on the labour market. And this is where social partners will need to work together in order to provide more people in Europe with better and more jobs. The new European social dialogue working programme represents a concrete joint contribution of social partners on key social and economic challenges to shape a more inclusive future for Europe. The programme contributes to the implementation of our common commitment to roll out social dialogue. It covers a balanced range of themes of common interest for workers and employers, such as: digitalisation, the performance of labour markets and social systems, skills, psychosocial aspects and risks at work, capacity building and circular economy.
It is designed by social partners and for social partners. It is a central tool for social partners to deliver on their responsibility to ensure a fairer Europe for workers and companies. The world of labour and the world of work is changing rapidly. Digitalisation is a word – is a catch word we hear every day in all the media. And it is of course of interest for the social partners to manage the digitalisation process in a fair way, that all the economy, the business and the workers participate and profit from it. So it should create good jobs, quality jobs – and of course one thing is important: that we distinguish between working life and the life apart from work, the life after work. And that is a reason why in the negotiation about digitalisation, we would like to see a possibility that we have an overall and framework agreement about ‘switching off’ and ‘switching on’. And that is what we are aiming for as trade unions. CEEP look forward to negotiating the autonomous agreement on digitalisation. Together with our trade union counterparts, we will design a solution to accompany the transformation brought up by automation, artificial
intelligence and the data economy on labour markets, developing skills and innovation, empowering national social partners via capacity building and promoting circular economy, or other key action that will contribute to building a fair, competitive and sustainable Europe. A good dialogue between social
partners at all levels is particularly relevant for crafts and SMEs to ensure competitiveness, a fair competition and good working conditions. As a European social partner, SMEunited strives for a balance between the interests of business and workers, taking into account the real needs of the
economy. With this sixth work programme, we demonstrate that we have a realistic agenda for the challenges of SMEs with a focus on qualified workers, digitalisation and a capacity to deliver. Capacity building is a must for SME
organisations in order to implement our European social dialogue outcomes and to contribute to the necessary structural reforms.