Social dialogue & conflict resolution mechanisms

Social Dialogue and Conflict Resolution Mechanisms: conciliation, mediation, arbitration in Estonia, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovenia - Workshop

Prague, 29-31 October 2003

Speech abstract - Timo Kauppinen
Research Manager,
European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions


The project on conflict resolution mechanisms in the Acceding Countries is derived from the previous European Foundation project on Social Dialogue and EMU in the Candidate Countries, which was carried out in the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia during 2002 and 2003.

The Slovenian Government and social partners made a proposal for extending the project to cover and compare country experiences of conflict resolution in the Acceding Countries. The topic was welcomed with great interest in all acceding countries. It arouses from the fact that interest conflicts are becoming more prominent in the countries when economic development is progressing and distribution of wealth is becoming more accurate. Another reason was that in all acceding countries a law on conflict resolution has been adopted about ten years ago and just after the revolution. The transition to the market economies was at that moment at its early stage. The system worked well but according to common view of the partners involved in the project it needs some revision. They also considered important to have comparative information from both the acceding countries and the EU Member States.

Taking into account these comments and our experiences from the previous social dialogue workshops we decided to use the method of social dialogue foresight, which has been developed in two Foundation projects: one dealing with foresight methods for knowledge society and the other with social dialogue and economic and monetary union in the candidate countries.

The purpose of the project is to gather employers, trade unions, governments and researchers in order to investigate and assess how social dialogue can best be utilised in the development of conflict resolution mechanism for the acceding countries in order to generate social peace in harmony with employers’ and employees’ benefits.

Basic principle of the method is that social partners and the government people have to work together

  • when analysing today’s situation,
  • when making a vision on future development and challenges and
  • when drafting a development plan.

In order to facilitate discussion the Foundation has asked a national expert to prepare a background document on actual practices in conflict resolution. This report describes the number and nature of conflicts in each member states as well as conflict resolution models.

The project is carried out in close cooperation with the government, employers’ and trade union organisations. The researchers who are drafting the national reports are selected according to the proposal of the social partners and the Governments. Their representatives participate in the workshop where they discuss national reports and draft development projects for conflict resolution mechanisms in their countries.

In order to produce comparable national reports on conflict resolution the Foundation has drafted guidelines for national reports, which have been delivered to the national experts. The guidelines try also to put conflict resolution mechanism into the national economic, political and industrial relations framework.

Project plan 2003-2004:

October 2003 - workshop in Prague: social partners and the government representatives of Estonia, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovenia discuss national reports and draft development plans.

January 2004 - workshop in Prague for the remaining five acceding countries: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia.

March 2004 - conference in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The programme covers the main results and summaries on the Foundation projects on the social dialogue and EMU in the candidate counties and the social dialogue and conflict resolution in the acceding countries.

The purpose of the conference is to discuss about the outcome of the Foundation work and evaluate how the implementation of the projects has taken place in the acceding countries.

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