Commerce social partners agree joint employment declaration

A joint declaration on promoting employment was agreed by the European-level social partners in the commerce sector at their conference held in Lisbon on 14 April 2000. This declaration was made in the context of the continuing social dialogue in this sector.

The social partners in the commerce sector – EuroCommerce for employers and Uni-Europa Commerce for trade unions – agreed a joint declaration on employment on 14 April 2000 at a joint conference in Lisbon. The parties state that promoting employment in the European commerce sector is their main priority and that this declaration is the latest step in a very active social dialogue process which began in 1985 and which most recently produced a joint agreement on fundamental workers' rights in August 1999 (EU9911213F). The European commerce sector is estimated to employ some 22 million workers, which form a particularly diverse workforce, including many women and young people.

The parties to the declaration maintain that, in order to allow employment in this sector to increase, policies must be devised which promote the development of consumption and which keep interest rates low. In addition, policies need to be developed which meet the challenge posed by the growth of new technology and structural changes in the sector. They suggest that one way of ensuring that the retail and wholesale industries compete successfully with other sectors is to develop their attractiveness and competitiveness through quality services which are well adapted to consumer needs and expectations. In order to provide this, staff need to be properly trained, well qualified and motivated, working under employment conditions which are stable and secure.

More specifically, the parties state that public authorities may need to take steps to ensure that small and medium-sized enterprises develop their competitiveness and are thus in a position to offer stable and good-quality employment. In addition, support needs to be given to both inner cities and rural areas to ensure that retail services do not "wither away", particularly in the case of small towns.

The parties praise all the efforts made so far at European level to promote employment, including the special European Council meeting on employment held in Lisbon in March 2000 (EU0004241F) and state that they are prepared "to take the lead in creating a framework through social dialogue where enterprises can adapt smoothly to changing consumer needs while providing secure quality employment for their workers".

In terms of future initiatives, the parties state that they will analyse employment and employment-related trends in the sector in order to identify areas of joint work and action. In specific terms, they are expecting to sign a framework agreement on "mature workers" in the very near future and are currently engaged in negotiating a framework agreement on teleworking. In addition, the social partners are working on a project adapting vocational training to the rapid expansion of "e-commerce".

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