Managerial and professional unions agree to cooperate in European social dialogue

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In July 1999, two bodies representing managerial and professional staff at European level, CEC and EUROCADRES, signed a "protocol of cooperation for the European social dialogue". The protocol provides for the establishment of a liaison committee, the future participation of the two organisations in the institutions and processes of the social dialogue, and greater cooperation.

Managerial and professional staff make up approximately 15%-20% of the workforce in the various EU Member States. There are two principal organisations which seek to represent the specific interests of this group at European level:

  • the Council of European Professional and Managerial Staff (EUROCADRES), established under the auspices of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), represents all those managerial and professional staff within ETUC-affiliated unions. Using ISCO classifications (groups 1 and 2 - senior officials, managers and professionals) EUROCADRES claims to represent over 5 million professional and managerial staff in all branches of industry, public and private services and administrative departments; and
  • European Managers' Confederation (Confédération Européenne des Cadres, CEC) brings together separate national bodies representing managerial and professional staff from 11 EEA countries (such as CFE-CGC from France, CIDA from Italy and ULA for Germany), along with associated organisations from central and eastern Europe and 11 European sectoral federations.

Both EUROCADRES and CEC are recognised by the European Commission as social partners (as "cross-industry organisations representing certain categories of workers") and are therefore consulted on issues in the social domain. Because of the increasing importance of the social dialogue (EU9806110F) - not least since the Amsterdam Treaty incorporated the involvement of the social partners in EU decision-making into the EC Treaty proper - the two organisations felt it necessary to implement greater cooperation, and thus on 8 July 1999, they signed a "protocol of cooperation for the European social dialogue".

The protocol

In the text of the protocol, CEC and EUROCADRES affirm the importance of the social dialogue process in the development of the European Union and the social dimension in particular. It is argued that, particularly in the context of the greater involvement of the social partners in decision-making in the social dimension and in relation to the EU's economic guidelines, it is crucial for professional, managers and executives to be involved in this dialogue. The key role played by ETUC in this dialogue is acknowledged and it has therefore been agreed to accept ETUC's proposal for CEC and EUROCADRES to establish a liaison committee on behalf of managerial and executive staff.

Article A states that EUROCADRES and CEC recognise each other as European organisations representing executives, managers and professional staff in the public and private sectors at European level.

Article B provides for the establishment of a liaison committee to facilitate cooperation between the two organisations in the institutional bodies and processes of the European social dialogue, in particular:

  • bodies where there is an exchange of views on employment, such as the Standing Committee on Employment, and meetings with the Labour Market and Employment Committee;
  • the (intersectoral) social dialogue committee and social dialogue "summits";
  • negotiating processes with employers' organisations; and
  • restricted high-level meetings of the EU institutions with the social partners

Article C sets down the practical arrangements for this cooperation. For meetings in committees such as the Standing Committee on Employment or the social dialogue committee, CEC and EUROCADRES will have their own representatives, although a joint representation may be agreed by the liaison committee. In negotiations, one representative from EUROCADRES and one from CEC will participate in the meetings. The practicalities of this representation and particular positions will be decided by the liaison committee, together with ETUC, particularly regarding joint representation in working groups with a limited number of participants. For restricted high-level meetings, CEC and EUROCADRES will address their opinions to ETUC, and joint positions may be agreed by the liaison committee.

Article D outlines principles to ensure good cooperation. It provides that the liaison committee will meet regularly to exchange views and opinions on professional and managerial staff issues as well as other matters of joint interest. The aim of such meetings will be to adopt a joint trade union approach on these matters. In negotiations, it is agreed that any disagreements between the organisations will be resolved internally, so as not to block progress in negotiations or delay the decision-making process. It is also provided that, outside the negotiating process and the issues they decide to pursue together, EUROCADRES and CEC retain their autonomy of expression and activity on all other issues.

Finally, Article E states that any problems which may occur in the implementation or interpretation of the protocol will be discussed within the liaison committee. The protocol is to be reviewed within three years of coming into force.

Commentary

Following the signing of the agreement, the president of CEC, Maurizio Angelo stated that: "Because executives, managers and professionals are key actors of change, it is essential that they express their concern and their proposals in an autonomous manner within the framework of social negotiations with the general workers' organisations, with whom they express solidarity." CEC sees issues such as new forms of employment contracts, teleworking, lifelong learning and professional equality for women as potential areas of cooperation with EUROCADRES. Michel Rousselot, president of EUROCADRES, underlined that "the protocol is a positive agreement for European professional and managerial staff. It allows them to complete the representation that EUROCADRES has already assured in the social dialogue and in the following negotiations. It is equally positive for the trade union movement whose cohesion it reinforces". ETUC also expressed its satisfaction over the successful conclusion of the agreement. (Tina Weber, ECOTEC Research and Consulting)

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