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Sectoral social dialogue - Commerce

Social partners

Workers' organisations Employers' organisations
UNI Europa EuroCommerce

This sector covers activities defined by NACE (Rev. 2), classes 45, 46 and 47:

  • Retail and wholesale trade.

In the EU, over 30.5m people work in commerce (Eurostat, 2014 Labour Force Survey data) - one of the main ways into work for young people and those who have left the labour market temporarily.

Commerce has expanded considerably over the past 20 years. At the same time, its competitive structure has been transformed, with more use of technology and changes in the regulatory framework (e.g. opening hours, shop size). Larger companies now dominate the market.

As a result, there are now far fewer self-employed workers and far more part-timers (many of them women) and people on temporary contracts. Productivity in the retail sector is now higher, while prices are lower. The changes have generated new demand for specialised skills.

Key areas

The Committee is currently focusing on:

  • adapting to change, vocational training and skills needs (e.g. new skills needed in e-commerce)
  • EU employment strategy & the commerce sector (e.g. promoting more & better jobs for young people, combating undeclared work, integrating migrant workers)
  • joint action on EU policies with a social impact on commerce (e.g. European Retail Action plan)
  • health, safety & wellbeing at work (e.g. third-party violence, ergonomics, stress at work)
  • making dialogue between employers' & workers' organisations more effective (including capacity building for these organisations in the newest EU countries and candidate countries).

In 2015, social partners have completed a project designed to provide more and better jobs for young people.

They are currently carrying out a joint project to improve health and safety at work and analysing the sectoral labour market by gathering data and information on the labour market, the changing forms of employment and the main work arrangements in the commerce sector.

Activities and meetings

Check the library entries for this sectoral social dialogue committee.

Recent achievements

  • 2015 - Joint pledge to join the European Alliance for Apprenticeships
  • 2015 - Joint project on youth employment: more & better jobs for young people in the commerce sector
  • 2014 - Joint recommendations & action plan on social dialogue in the EU 13 & candidate countries
  • 2013 - Joint position paper on the consultation under Article 154 TFEU on undeclared work
  • 2013 - Joint statement on revision of the IORP (Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision) Directive
  • 2012- Social partners set up a sector skills council for commerce. . Designed to tackle the mismatch between employees' skills & companies' needs in the retail and wholesale sectors, the council successfully completed its first year at the end of 2014
  • 2012 - Joint contribution: the social aspects of the European Retail Action Plan
  • 2011-2012 - Capacity building projects aimed at employers' & workers' organisations in the new EU countries & candidate countries, in cooperation with the ITC-ILO (International Training Centre of the International Labour Organisation)