EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life

Management and labour

‘Management and labour’ is the English term used in EU law to refer to organisations representing workers and employers. The equivalent term used in other language versions is ‘social partners’ (e.g. partenaires sociaux in French, Sozialpartner in German). This equivalence may be illustrated through Council Directive 97/81/EC concerning the Framework Agreement on part-time work concluded by BUSINESSEUROPE, CEEP and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), where the second Recital of the Preamble to the directive reads: ‘Whereas management and labour (the social partners)….’

Of particular importance, the term ‘management and labour’ appears in Articles 154-155 TFEU as referring to those organisations at EU level entitled to initiate the European social dialogue, which may lead to contractual relations including agreements between them. The identification of organisations claiming to fall within the meaning of the ‘management and labour’ raises numerous potential difficulties. Article 152 TFEU uses, for the first time in primary EU law, the notion of ‘social partners’: ‘The Union recognises and promotes the role of the social partners at its level, taking into account the diversity of national systems. It shall facilitate dialogue between the social partners, respecting their autonomy.’

See also: Agreement on Social Policy; European industry federations; European social dialogue; European social partners; representativeness; Social Policy Protocol.


Please note: the European industrial relations dictionary is updated annually. If errors are brought to our attention, we will try to correct them.
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