European Parliament calls on the Commission to support more, not less, EU sectoral social dialogue

Photo credit: European Parliament Multimedia Centre

Photo credit: European Parliament Multimedia Centre

(2 June 2023) In a resolution on the Commission’s Communication and Council Recommendation on EU and national social dialogue of 25 January, the European Parliament calls upon the European Commission to increase its financial, legal and technical support for EU sectoral social dialogue.

This is welcomed by EPSU who is involved, for the trade union side, in 5 sectoral social dialogue committees (in local and regional government, in central government, hospitals, gas, electricity) and soon to come for social services.

The Parliament reaffirms that social dialogue contributes to economic and social welfare, sustainable and inclusive growth and development and that collective bargaining is key to decent wages and equal pay between women and men.

The motion comes on the heels of the Commission’s plans to weaken its support on organising and financing the European Sectoral Social Dialogue Committees.

While the Commission’s Communication considers that social partner agreements are amongst the best outcomes of social dialogue, it seeks to reduce the means and resources to achieve further agreements.

The plans have met fierce opposition from more than 30 sectoral social partners who recently drew attention to the matter to Commission President Von der Leyen asking to reconsider the Commission’s proposals.

As President Von der Leyen addressed the ETUC congress in Berlin last week, we expect the Commission to walk the talk and takes due account of the Parliament’s reaction in addition to ours and the employers. It cannot, on the one hand, voice support for social dialogue and, on the other, undermine the possibilities to make it work.

“The Commission’s planned dilution of financial and institutional support for social dialogue committees will lead to fewer meetings, reduced political engagement and competition between sectors of the economy when what we need is more cooperation, more negotiation to shape and deliver the green and digital transitions in a balanced way,” said EPSU General Secretary Jan Willem Goudriaan.

For workplace democracy to be more than words, Parliament rightly points out that it must be based on trade union rights to organise, collective action and collective bargaining, which are challenged in a number of EU member states.

Member States and social partners are also encouraged to consider extension mechanisms to broaden the applicability of collective agreements to all workers within a sector or company.

Read the letter from over 30 sectoral social partners to Commission President Von der Leyen here.