Another step towards a European social dialogue in social services

27 June 2019, final conference PESSIS+ project

(10 July 2019) On 27 June the trade unions and employers in social services took another step towards setting up a European social dialogue in the sector. EPSU met with the Federation of Social Employers in the final conference of the PESSIS+ project. They discussed how to ensure greater dignity and better working conditions for the 10 million social service workers across Europe.

PESSIS+ has helped to further understand how social dialogue is organised across Europe and to explore the needs and challenges facing employers and the workforce in the sector. The project has involved extensive research and stakeholder meetings, both at national and EU level.

The latest research findings on the state of play of social dialogue across the European Union were presented by Jane Lethbridge from the Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU). Her report covers 25 countries and was followed by specific presentations on Denmark, Latvia and Luxembourg.

In the next session, Sylvain Renouvel, Director of the Social Employers, launched the Social Employers Observatory, a specialised research unit looking at working conditions and sustainability in the social services sector. Following this, Frédéric Turlan, director of the IR Share industrial relations information service, introduced research on the main characteristics of the social services workforce.

The afternoon focused on a series of thematic meetings held by the Social Employers and EPSU. In their joint work, both organisations have focused on digitalisation and recruitment and retention in social services. A joint position paper on digitalisation was presented at the conference while a second joint position paper on recruitment and retention is currently being developed by the two organisations.

Dietmar Erdmeier, of the ver.di services union in Germany (see his presentation below), and Maria Hansson, of the Kommunal municipal workers’ union in Sweden, participated with employer representatives  in the panel “Taking stock of achievements of the project and perspectives” where they presented their views on social dialogue in the sector from a national level.

The question of “How can the European institutions strengthen working conditions in the social services sector?” was debated in a panel involving Sigried Caspar, team leader for sectoral social dialogue, at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility (DG EMPL), Krzysztof Balon, Member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and Vice-President of the Diversity Europe Group of the EESC and Stefano Martinelli, deputy head of cabinet for Luca Jahier, president of the European Economic and Social Committee who highlighted the support from both institutions of the cooperation between the Social Employers and EPSU.

The day concluded with the signing of a joint letter from the Social Employers and EPSU to Marianne Thyssen, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility and Joost Korte, Director General of DG EMPL. The letter reaffirms the willingness of both organisations to further engage and promote an effective EU-level social dialogue for the social services sector, asking the European Commission to support a move in the next months into a test phase for such a dialogue. 

EPSU and the Social Employers will reconvene on the 17th October 2019 for a thematic meeting on the promotion of socially responsible public procurement in social services.

1. Conference Agenda

2. Joint Media Release – included in the article published by the Social Employers

3. Joint EPSU–Social Employers Position Paper on Digitalisation in the Social Services Sector: EN - FR - DE - ES - FIN - IT - SV

4. Presentations

  1. European report on social dialogue in the social services sector, Jane Lethbridge, PSIRU
  2. Report on social dialogue in social services in Denmark, Anders Randrup
  3. Report on social dialogue in social services in Latvia, Daina Podzina
  4. Report on social dialogue in social services in Luxembourg, Vassil Kirov
  5. Report on the characteristics of the social services workforce, Frederic Turlan
  6. Presentation of "Joint EPSU-Social Employers Position Paper on Digitalisation in the Social Services Sector – Assessment of Opportunities and Challenges", Luca Scarpiello, EPSU
  7. Challenges for, opportunities and usefulness of EU-level social dialogue in the field of social services from a German trade union perspective, Dietmar Erdmeier, ver.di, Germany - in EN and DE

5. Final European Report, Jane Lethbridge, PSIRU

More about the PESSIS+ project on the website of the Social Employers and on the website of EPSU.

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