Collective organisation of the social partners
Collective organisation of the social partners is a prerequisite for collective industrial relations. The Community Charter of the Fundamental Social Rights of Workers 1989 provides for this under the rubric ‘Freedom of association and collective bargaining’:
Employers and workers of the European Community shall have the right of association in order to constitute professional organisations or trade unions of their choice for the defence of their economic and social interests.
Every employer and every worker shall have the freedom to join or not to join such organisations without any personal or occupational damage being thereby suffered by him.
Collective organisation is particularly important in the case of trade unions. For this reason, trade unions are specifically mentioned in Article 12 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union: ‘Freedom of assembly and of association’ (now Part II of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe).
The purpose of Article 12 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union is to secure the presence and effectiveness of the social partners at all levels. Formulation, implementation and enforcement of the rights of workers require collective organisation of the social partners at both national and EU levels. The importance of trade unions to the social rights of workers highlights the rights of association necessary for the social partners to carry out their responsibilities.
See also: employee representation; employer organisations; European Industrial Relations Observatory; European social model; European social partners; EU system of industrial relations; freedom of association; national trade union confederations.