(8 December 2020) On 3 December 2020, 40 delegates from trade unions (TUNED) and employers in central and federal governments (EUPAE) adopted a statement to mark the 10th anniversary of the EU social dialogue committee.
While the troubled times do not allow for celebrations, the statement is an opportunity to recall the achievements of the past decade and chart a course for the coming years.
One key achievement was the adoption of an agreement setting out EU minimum standards on consultation rights for trade union representatives regarding restructuring, occupational health and safety and other issues of direct concern to 9 million public sector employees.
TUNED and EUPAE have renewed their demand to the European Commission to implement the agreement by proposing a Directive for Council to adopt by qualified majority voting. The pandemic has thrown into sharp relief the importance involving workers and their representatives in securing a safe workplace and organising teleworking.
They welcome the ongoing discussions between the Commission and the EU social partners on improvements to EU social dialogue and clarification of the rules and role of the Commission regarding the legislative implementation of social partner agreements.
The statement recalls that all the means available to the EU social partners, including statements, policy guidelines, EC-funded research and an autonomous agreement on quality administrations, have been used. A key challenge, however, is to better promote and implement the content of these outcomes at national level.
At the meeting, the Committee also discussed the topics of the incoming workplan for 2021-2022.
The first year will be busy with the new round of negotiations of a social partner agreement on digitalisation, with the first meeting planned for 20 January.
The negotiations will build upon previous research which fed into a checklist of dos and don’ts on how digitalisation helps, or does not help, to improve work-life balance for government employees, the cross-sectoral agreement on digitalisation and the massive development of teleworking in the public sector due to the pandemic of the Covid-19.
The composition of the negotiation delegation will be drawn from TUNED and EUPAE members, keeping a regional and gender balance and trying to mirror the countries represented on each side. Five meetings are planned for the first half of 2021, with the financial support of the Commission.
The consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, including occupational health and safety, the involvement of workers and their trade unions in risk assessments, work organisation and staffing levels will remain on the agenda of the Committee in the next year to come.
Other topics on the workplan include diversity in the workforce of central governments, with a future meeting dedicated to the EU legal framework on tackling and eradicating all grounds of discrimination at work. Finally, the issues of attractiveness of working in central governments as well as ethics and the prevention of conflict of interest will also be part of the workplan over the next two years
The workplan needs further finetuning and will be put for adoption at the first meeting of the Committee on 26 April 2021, hopefully in a face to face meeting.
More information on the information and consultation rights Agreement (T 310/18):