Social partners present work programme 2006-2008

The European social partners have presented their second joint multi-annual work programme, in which they outline their key aims for 2006–2008. During this period, they plan to undertake the following: continue policies and actions developed under the first work programme; monitor existing framework agreements and frameworks of action; start new negotiations; and deal with new issues of core interest for the cross-sector social partners. The programme aims to reinforce autonomy in social dialogue.

The cross-sector social partners at European level – the European Trade Union Confederation ( ETUC), the Union of Industrial and Employers’ Confederations of Europe ( UNICE)/European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises ( UEAPME) and the European Centre of Enterprises with Public Participation and of Enterprises of General Economic Interest ( CEEP) – presented their second multi-annual work programme for Social Dialogue 2006–2008 (67Kb pdf) at the Tripartite Social Summit in March 2006 (joint press release (78Kb pdf); IP/06/362 (71Kb pdf)).

First work programme

The social partners emphasise the contribution of the first joint work programme for 2003–2005 (128Kb pdf) (EU0212206F) to implementing the Lisbon Strategy, sharpening the focus of European social dialogue, and enhancing their autonomy. The new work programme builds on the achievements of the previous programme, among which the social partners particularly emphasise:

Content of the work programme

The new work programme aims to further reinforce the social partners’ autonomy. The programme aims to concentrate on the major concerns of Europe’s workers and employers, and use a variety of tools in order to implement the programme. Key issues are:

  • macroeconomic and labour market policies;
  • worklife cycle and employment;
  • mobility and migration;
  • lifelong learning, competitiveness and innovation;
  • integration of disadvantaged groups;
  • balance between flexibility and security;
  • undeclared work.

The social partners intend to develop recommendations for EU and national institutions, and to define the priorities to be included in a framework of action on employment.

They also plan to negotiate an autonomous framework agreement on either the integration of disadvantaged groups into the labour market or on lifelong learning.

On 7 February 2006, the European social partners began negotiations on harassment and violence with the aim of concluding a voluntary agreement by the end of 2006 (UNICE Headlines No. 2006-05).

In addition, the work programme aims to:

Monitoring activities

In addition to their second joint work programme, the social partners presented their evaluation report (585Kb pdf) on the framework of action for the lifelong development of competencies and qualifications at the Tripartite Social Summit. This report builds on the annual reports of 2003 (316Kb pdf) (EU0306205F), 2004 (367Kb pdf) and 2005 (538Kb pdf), and fulfils the follow-up provisions to evaluate the impact on both companies and workers after three annual reports.

All of the jointly agreed measures include follow-up provisions and monitoring activities. One example is the framework agreement on work-related stress, signed in October 2004. It includes a monitoring clause regarding its implementation. In the first three years, annual interim reports are required, followed by a full report in the fourth year. In the framework agreement on telework, signed in July 2002, a monitoring clause stipulates that the member organisations will report on the implementation to an ad hoc group set up by the signatory parties, under the responsibility of the social dialogue committee. This ad hoc group will prepare a joint report within four years after the date of signature.

Commentary

The two work programmes demonstrate a commitment to joint action in cross-sector social dialogue and make an important contribution to the European social model. Current negotiations on violence and harassment, and the start of negotiations on a further autonomous agreement, will contribute to important issues on the political agenda. Monitoring and reviewing of provisions are as important as the agreement achieved or strived for. The social partners’ emphasis on autonomy also implies responsibility for implementation by the national member organisations.

Anni Weiler, AWWW GmbH

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