What makes a good relationship between employers and employees?
The answer and an accurate explanation are provided by the study “Conditions and Criteria for Social Dialogue in Europe – the Workers’ Perspective”, a booklet written and published by European Centre for Workers Questions (EZA) in cooperation with the HIVA Research Institute of the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium). The presentation of its findings was held this week in Brussels.
Social Dialogue is about to be back on the agenda
The book analyses which circumstances and quality criteria have to be kept so that a social dialogue can be possible and can lead to good results.The study confirms that good and trustful cooperation with the social partners is a condition to find successful solutions for employees in Europe.
However, the booklet does not shy away from admitting that labour organisations in Europe meet serious challenges. 30 years after the founding of the European Social dialogue, the representation of the of the workers aspirations face an uphill battle. Long-term unemployment, precarious employment and worker poverty have significally increased in most European countries due to the financial and economic crisis. In addition, worker’s organizations are faced with structural weaknesses in southern Europe and a lack of strong pre-existing social dialogue traditions in Central and Eastern Europe.
It is very important that at the European level we continue talking, debating and studying the social dialogue issue. It is sad that in Italy this debate is dead. The responsibility bears on Renzi and on the Unions themselves adopting old schemes that are unable to bring the debate at the top of the national agenda.
Since the focus of the book is the workers perspectives, what trade unions should deliver in order to improve the working environment?
According to the book, employers expect getting pay increase, protection of equal opportunities, a working environment that is interesting and enjoyable, working with management to improve performance, increase managerial responsiveness to employees, and the making of the workplace into a better place to work. Easier said then done? Is it too mush to ask? No if there is commitment from both sides, clear objectives and rules on what it is dealt with and broad information on business and employment on a timely manner provided.
Best evidence, says the book, suggests that union effects on productivity depend on the general industrial relations climate. Unions can be good for productivity and sometimes they would not make any difference to companies profitability. The important thing is to create the right climate. High trust relationships between trade unions and employers, running in parallel with direct employee involvement initiatives, appear to produce the largest productivity effects.
«The European Commission has a particular interest in the social dialogue. The Commission recognizes the usefulness and the necessity of social dialogue» said David –Pascal Dion, Head of Unit- Dir. Directorate General for Employment Social Affairs and Inclusion commenting the book findings. «President Juncker had said he wanted to become the president of social dialogue. Indeed, the Commission, a year ago, launched “A new start for social dialogue” conference to give a new impetus to social dialogue at EU level. All together we can revitalize the social dialogue issue».