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Sectoral social dialogue - Commerce

Social partners


Employees' organisations Employers' organisations
UNI Europa EuroCommerce

Social dialogue in this sector covers:

  • retail and wholesale trade.

Over 30 million people work in the commerce sector, of which around 19 million are in retail. The sector is one of the main entry gates to the labour market for young people and a re-entry point for those who have left the labour market temporarily.

The sector's considerable expansion over the past 20 years has been accompanied by a transformation in its competitive structure, greater use of technology and changes in the regulatory framework (e.g. opening hours, establishment size). Large companies now dominate at the expense of the numerous small and micro businesses once typical in most countries. One result is a significant decline in the number of self-employed workers and a substantial increase in the number of part-time jobs (many held by women) and non-permanent contracts. The higher productivity of the retail sector resulting from its transformation has resulted in lower prices and generated new demand for higher skills.

Focus areas

The Committee is currently focusing on:

  • adapting to change
  • vocational training and skill needs, including the creation of European sector skills council
  • EU employment strategy (e.g. common position on a more inclusive labour market)
  • joint follow-up of EU policies with a social impact (e.g. study on working conditions in the retail sector)
  • health, safety and well-being at work (e.g. third-party violence)
  • effectiveness of social dialogue (including capacity building of social partners in the newest EU countries and candidate countries).

Activities and meetings

Check the library entries for this sectoral social dialogue committee.


  • Joint contribution on the social aspects of the European Retail Action Plan (2012) 
  • Capacity building projects aimed at social partner organisations in the new EU countries and candidate countries, in cooperation with the ITC-ILO (2011-2012)
  • Promotion, awareness-raising and dissemination of multi-sectoral guidelines to tackle third-party violence and harassment related to work (EuroCommerce as lead project promoter) (2011)
  • Joint opinion on the Agenda for new Skills and Jobs (2011)
  • Common contribution to some flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 Strategy (2010)
  • Toolkit for the prevention and management of third-party violence (2009)

See also "European sectoral social dialogue – recent developments" (2010 brochure).


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