Developing Collective Bargaining in the Care Sector (DEVCOBA): Partners met in Milan to kick-off new project

(18 March 2024) From 29 February to 1 March project partners met in Milan for the kick-off meeting of the DEVCOBA project.

The meeting was hosted by the project managers from the University of Milan at the Department of Social and Political Sciences.

DEVCOBA examines the care labour market and its industrial relations, with a focus on early childhood education and care (ECEC) and long-term care (LTC).

The project aims to explore the dynamics, mechanisms and impact of the development of collective bargaining and representation as a way to improve working conditions and reduce staff shortages in the care sector.

The research-oriented project brings together eight partners from seven countries: the University of Milan, the Employment Relations Research Centre (FAOS) of the University of Copenhagen, the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), the University of Bremen (UNI-Bremen), the Central European Labour Studies Institute (CELSI), the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) and the Federation of European Social Employers (Social Employers).


1. Systematic comparative knowledge on collective bargaining

Deepening systematic and comparative knowledge and disseminating information on the structure and coverage of collective bargaining and representation, unionization rate, and job quality in the care sector, concentrating in particular on ECEC and LTC services across different EU countries.

2. Country-specific initiatives to extend collective bargaining

Examining the country-specific repertoire of actions adopted by the social partners to extend and develop collective bargaining coverage as a measure to improve the quantity and quality of work in the care sector. This will allow delivering expert insights on how more encompassing collective bargaining institutions and social dialogue bodies enable improving working conditions and job quality, as well as reducing skill and labour shortages.

3. Social partners’ activation

Fostering awareness and activation of social partners, stakeholders, and policy-makers on the critical issues regarding the quantity and quality of work in the care sector across EU countries at both the European, national, and sectorial levels by setting up a systematic and constructive dialogue with them.

4. Dissemination

Disseminating the results of the research actions and stimulating information exchange, social dialogue, and collective bargaining among social partners, stakeholders, and policymakers at the EU, national, and sectorial levels on how collective bargaining and other social dialogue initiatives are dealing with the quantity and quality of work in the care sector across different EU Member States.


  • A national-level mapping of collective bargaining and representation structures in the care sector in six countries (Denmark, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, and Slovakia)
  • Case studies identifying actions and initiatives adopted by social partners in each country to extend collective bargaining coverage
  • Analysis of workers’ individual positioning and perceptions on job quality, working conditions, and collective representation
  • Comparative analyses of the situation between the six countries
  • National and international dissemination activities

For more information on DEVCOBA, visit the project website: