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Industrial relations: social dialogue under strain in Europe says new report

11/04/2013 Industrial relations: social dialogue under strain in Europe says new report

The on-going economic crisis poses a serious challenge to the dialogue between workers' and employers' representatives and governments according to a report published by the European Commission.

The report shows that recent government reforms have not always been accompanied by fully effective social dialogue, leading to increasingly conflictual industrial relations in Europe.

The involvement of workers' and employers' representatives (the "social partners") in government reforms is vital, as solutions found through social dialogue tend to have wider acceptance in society, to be easier to implement in practice and to be less liable to give rise to conflict.

Well-structured social dialogue can effectively contribute to the economic resilience of Europe. In fact, countries in which social dialogue is well-established and industrial relations institutions are strong are generally those where the economic and social situation is more resilient and under less pressure.

The new report focuses on:

  • how the outcomes of European social dialogue can make a real difference to the working lives of Europeans, for example on improved health and safety at work and working conditions;
  • industrial relations in the public sector (public administration, education and healthcare) in light of the government spending cuts in many Member States;
  • the state of social dialogue in Central and Eastern Europe;
  • the involvement of social partners in unemployment and pension system reforms and in the transition towards an economy that is more sustainable and less dependent on fossil fuels.

Report: Industrial Relations in Europe 2012