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Sectoral social dialogue - Tanning and leather

Social partners


Workers' organisations Employers' organisations
industriAll European Trade Union Confederation of National Associations of Tanners & Dressers of the European Community (COTANCE)


Social dialogue in this sector covers the tanning and dressing of leather, as defined by NACE (Rev. 2), class 15.1.1.

NACE 15.1.1 also includes tanning and dyeing pelts, but the EU-level Social Dialogue does not cover this segment. However, some National leather federations members of COTANCE who are also members of national leather federations do include fur tanning.

EU-wide, there are over 162 000 jobs in the tanning and leather sector (Eurostat, 2014, Labour Force Survey data) in about 16 000 companies (Eurostat, Business Statistics for 2013). However, the tanning sector in the narrow sense of the term employs only about 28 000 people in some 3000 firms.

Production has shifted towards higher-quality output and more fashionable products. There is now more of a focus on environmental aspects, quality and design and more investment in these aspects.

Major challenges include:

  • access to raw materials
  • trade barriers
  • identification & labelling of leather at EU level
  • education & training,
  • the sector's image & attractiveness

Key areas

The Committee is currently focusing on:

  • market access, non-tariff barriers, labelling leather to show that it is genuine & certified indication of origin,
  • access to raw materials & EU industrial policy,
  • promotion of education & training, promotion of the industry & its jobs,
  • promotion of the image of the leather industry & importance of social dialogue,
  • health & safety at work.

Activities & meetings

Check the library entries for this sectoral social dialogue committee.

Recent achievements

  • 2015 - Manifesto for the Future of European Leather
  • 2014 - Joint letter to the Commission President, Mr Juncker
  • 2014 - Joint declaration on the defence of the European leather industry
  • 2012 - Joint statement on the Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Ukraine
  • 2012 - Joint statement on the ban on Cr VI (hexavalent chromium) in leather & leather products
  • 2009 - Joint statement on the Greenpeace report on the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest