by the EESC Workers' Group

The EESC Workers' Group warmly welcomes the social dialogue initiative recently published by the European Commission. It sends a strong signal to EU workers and citizens who are currently faced with a serious cost-of-living crisis.

Agreements between the social partners on fair wages and working conditions can be strong mitigating measures against the effects of inflation on working families, as they were during the pandemic, when collective bargaining across Europe made short-time working arrangements, teleworking and health and safety protocols possible, and paved the way for a fairer recovery.

That is why social dialogue and collective bargaining are the backbone of the European social model and a basic element of democracy and sustainable economic growth, and should be preserved as such.

However, social dialogue is far from being a reality everywhere in Europe. In a number of Member States the social partners lack organisational capacity, and newer forms of employment such as platform work are less likely to be represented. The share of workers covered by collective agreements at national level has declined significantly in the past decades.

The European Commission's initiative is therefore warmly welcomed as a step in the right direction, although more clarity will be needed as regards the role of the Member States in establishing binding mechanisms for the involvement of the social partners. (mg)