Social Dialogue

Social Dialogue is key to balancing the interests of workers and businesses in industrial relations, while respecting national, cultural and regional traditions. In doing so, it has a track record in promoting quality labour conditions and productive corporations. Social Dialogue is thus an essential element to ensure decent work and economic growth, one the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Given the significant challenges that the world of work is currently facing, Social Dialogue needs to re-invent itself to sustain its added value for workers and businesses. The World Employment Confederation-Europe is the recognised, EU Sectoral Social Partner for temporary agency work, representing the employers in the sectoral social dialogue wth UNI Europa.

EU Sectoral Social Dialogue

The World Employment Confederation-Europe is the recognised EU sectoral social partner for temporary agency work at EU level and has been engaged in EU Sectoral Social Dialogue since 2001. The counterpart representing workers’ organisations is UNI Europa.

Every three years, the sectoral social partners agree on a new work programme focusing on different aspects related to regulation of temporary agency work, EU employment policies, capacity building and joint research.

In 2023, the European Union adopted a new initiative to further strengthen and promote social dialogue. The World Employment Confederation-Europe had welcomed the proposals as a way to fully unlock the potential of social dialogue in fostering dynamic, inclusive and resilient labour markets. At the same time, it had some concerns with the proposed review of the rules on the financing of the European Sectoral Social Dialogue Committees. Alongiside 30 other European sectoral social partner organisations, WEC-Europe signed an open letter to the European Commission to call for the autonomy of sectoral social partners to be maintained, allowing them to focus on content and their contribution to EU policies.

The EU Sectoral Social Dialogue Work Programme 20212023  

The 2021 – 2023 work programme adopted on 31 May by the World Employment Confederation-Europe and UNI-Europa will cover the following main topics under the overall theme of “PARTNERS”:

P – Platform work: digital transformation, artificial intelligence and the changing world of work

A – Apprenticeships: dual learning and the European Skills Agenda

R – Regulation: the review of the regulatory framework on temporary agency work (review of restrictions and fact-finding on cross-border temporary agency work) and the benefits of diverse forms of work

T – Trust: building trust and confidence in working together through best-practice sharing

N – New normal: the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the temporary agency work industry, digital transformation and the allocation role of temporary agency work

E – Employment Policies: activation, labour market transitions, public-private partnerships and policies to tackle undeclared work

R – Role of sectoral social partners: connecting European and national debates and capacity building

S – Social Innovation: new ways of working, learning and social protection

The COVID-19 pandemic poses an unprecedented, major challenge to economies and societies around the world and it has also severely impacted the temporary agency work sector.

Building on a long-standing tradition of social dialogue, the World Employment Confederation-Europe and UNI-Europa decided to address this challenge together and issued joint recommendations on 29 April 2020 to both mitigate the immediate impact of the crisis and prepare for the recovery of the labour market and the economy.

In February 2022, the social partners adopted a new joint declaration, focusing on the lessons learned during the Covid-19 pandemic and making recommendations for the recovery to lead to more inclusive and resilient labour markets in Europe.

Joint research and statements

Through their various projects, the World Employment Confederation-Europe and UNI Europa agreed several joint recommendations and declarations on topics of relevance to the agency work sector, such as:

  • Foster the sectoral social dialogue and the capacity of sectoral social partners to develop and strengthen social innovation in the temporary agency work industry (Joint Recommendations on social innovation, 2020)
  • Monitor and foster the correct classification of people working via online talent platforms at national level (Joint Recommendations on online talent platforms, labour market intermediaries and the changing world of work, 2018)
  • Carry out better data collection and reporting at EU and national levels to enable comparative analysis of different forms of employment and to better differentiate temporary agency work from the more generic category of temporary work (Joint Recommendations on comparing temporary agency work with other forms of employment, 2015)
  • Involve the sectoral social partners in the implementation of active labour market policies. Taking advantage of their expertise on transitions will be instrumental for the success of programmes designed to increase labour market participation (Joint recommendations on temporary agency work facilitating transitions in the labour market, 2012)
  • Funding for training should be simplified for the temporary agency work sector, especially with regards to the European Social Fund and the funds managed by other sectoral training bodies (Joint Declaration on vocational training, 2009)

For more information about each of these joint research projects conducted by the World Employment Confederation-Europe and UNI Europa, visit our page dedicated to the Agency Work sector.

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