Cross-industry bipartite social dialogue established

Representatives of the most relevant social partners in industry and construction in Slovakia have signed a contract of cooperation which establishes the basis for cross-sector bipartite social dialogue. Its goal is to develop a mechanism for regular consultation between representative employers and their partner trade unions in the respective sectors. The Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family has welcomed the establishment of cross-industry bipartite dialogue.

Establishment of cross-industry bipartism

Bipartite social dialogue was established at cross-sector level in Slovakia in February 2013. Senior representatives of the country’s social partners in industry and construction signed a contract on cooperation on 31 January 2013.

The contract was signed by the Integrated Trade Unions (IOZ), the Metal Trade Union (OZ KOVO) and the Trade Union of Mine, Geology and Oil Industry Workers (OZ PBGN).

For the employers, the contract was signed by the Slovak Electromechanical Association (SEA), the Association of the Automotive Industry (ZAP SR), the Association of Metallurgy, Mining and Geology (ZHTPG), the Association of Construction Entrepreneurs of Slovakia (ZSPS) and the Association of the Mechanical Engineering Industry (ZSP SR).

These social partners represent the most economically powerful sectors of Slovak industry and most of its export trade.

In the contract, the social partners express their interest in strengthening social dialogue at cross-sectoral and national levels and confirm its role in maintaining social peace. They also stress the importance of bipartite meetings and of exchanging ideas to make agreement possible on issues relating to employment, the development of the economy and the activities of the social partners in society.

The contract has two annexes. The first is the Declaration on Establishment of Industry Bipartism which sets out the new bipartite organisation’s internal structure and the way it is financed. The second is the Standing Order which regulates its internal procedures.

Aims and objectives of bipartism

The main objective of the cross-industry bipartite social dialogue is to create a forum for regular meetings of representative employers and partner trade unions from Slovak industry. The new agreement states that permanent themes to be addressed by the bipartite body are:

  • legislative procedures and their impact on the activities of members;
  • the development of Slovak industry, including its raw materials and energy policies;
  • minimum social and wage standards;
  • collective bargaining;
  • the development of employment and creation of new jobs;
  • scientific and technical development;
  • taxes and contributions to compulsory insurance funds.

Until now Slovakia’s private sector has not had cross-sector social dialogue. Achieving the new bipartite objectives will require the building of an effective mechanism for cross-industry social dialogue. A certain form of cross-sector social dialogue already exists in the public sector through multi-employer collective bargaining.

Conference on bipartism

The signatories to the new contract organised an international conference on the importance and place of bipartism in social dialogue, in partnership with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, which was held in Bratislava on 18 April 2013. The aim of the conference was to clarify the meaning and aims of bipartite social dialogue and to learn how bipartism works in other countries. It was attended by about 60 participants, including representatives of the social partners and the public authorities, and representatives of the social partners from Austria, Germany and Sweden.

The conference was attended by Jozef Burian, Minister of Labour, Social Affairs and Family (MPSVR SR), and Jozef Kollár, President of the Confederation of Trade Unions (KOZ SR), both of whom welcomed the establishment of cross-industry bipartism.

Juraj Borgula, Vice-President and Chief Negotiator of ZSP SR, and Emil Machyna, President of OZ KOVO, gave the conference keynote speeches in which the objectives of cross-industry bipartite social dialogue in Slovakia were outlined, highlighting the priorities and the need to address current problems in both industry and society.

Representatives of social partners from Austria, Germany and Sweden spoke in detail about the functioning, rules and outcomes of bipartite social dialogue in their countries. They pointed out the differences between the various forms of social dialogue in differing national contexts but consistently stressed its importance for social peace, stability and the effective development of society.

The participants also discussed specific topics, such as social dialogue in the metal unions, the importance of applied research and education, corporate social responsibility and the long-term sustainability of public finances in Slovakia.

The findings of the conference will be used by the social partners to improve cross-industry bipartite social dialogue in Slovakia.

Ludovít Cziria, Institute for Labour and Family Research

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