Social Dialogue in Europe: class struggle is not coming back, it never went away.

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Book Presentation and debate highlight the challenges to social stability without social dialogue in Europe.

On December 7th, the Worker's group hosted a presentation of the book 'European Social Dialogue: history of a social innovation' by Jean Lapeyre, followed by a debate on the past, present, and future of social dialogue in Europe, and the necessity of it.

The speakers outlined the past key role of social dialogue and warned about risks of losing it, despite positive signs with the EU Pillar of Social Rights. Healthy and functional social dialogue will be key to ensure proper living conditions, social stability, and the survival of the European project.

'If the book had covered the history of social dialogue in the period after 2003, it would have been much thinner' regretted John Monks on the current evolution of social dialogue, who also commented on the potential of a stronger social Europe to stall nationalism and populism.

History of Social Dialogue in Europe

The book presentation, hosted by Workers' group president Gabrielle Bischoff, had the contributions of EESC President George Dassis and main social dialogue actors: John Monks and Cándido Méndez, formerly ETUC secretary general and president, respectively, and Philippe de Buck, former member of Business Europe.

They all highlighted the key role of social dialogue in shaping a fairer Europe, the political leadership of the 1985-2003 period, and the necessity to show initiative against the challenges present by digitalisation and the new employment schemes and 'gig' economy.

In Cándido Méndez's words, 'Social dialogue can offer content, and bring hope to millions of working families in Europe, thus assuring the sustainability of the European Project'.

The future for social innovation

The debate took place between the audience and Luc Triangle, IndustriAll Europe General Secretary, Marie-Hélène Ska, CSC General Secretary, and Peter Scherrer, current ETUC deputy Secretary General. The necessity of social dialogue for the coming future was highlighted, rebuilding a strong national base, and challenging employer's reticence to social EU regulation.

'The EU Commission speaks of Social Dialogue, but the language employed by the Troika against Greece, or the continuous ignoring by the Commission of the Social Partner Agreements (such as the hairdressers' one) must warn us: we must take the initiative as workers' representatives, not wait for the politicians to further the points', marked Luc Triangle, wrapping up the necessity of a strong national and European stance for Trade Unions to keep social dialogue strong.