Social Dialogue : Contact in view of EPSCO meeting on the Recommendation on Strengthening Social Dialogue in the EU

Brussels, 02 June 2013

  • To Social Attachés

Dear Social Attachés.

We are writing to you regarding the Proposal for a Council recommendation on Strengthening Social Dialogue in the European Union, due for adoption at the EPSCO meeting on the 12th of June. The ETUC has been closely following the Council discussions, and we have communicated with you on several occasions regarding our concerns in particular relating to the need to recognise the role of trade unions as the actors empowered to conduct collective bargaining on behalf of workers and in relation to derogations.

While we welcome the work undertaken during the Council discussions to take into account our concerns in the operative part of the text, there are still aspects of the considerations/recitals that should be changed to avoid undermining trade union prerogatives and respecting collective agreements. This means modifying or deleting some contradictions between the recitals and the operative part of the text as well. This is most relevant in recitals 12, 13 and 15.

Recital 12 refers to workers organisations despite the operative text referring only to trade unions. We reiterate again our position that trade unions are the actors empowered to conduct collective bargaining on behalf of workers. Any attempts to replace or circumvent the role of trade unions through other forms of workers organisations is unacceptable. The recital should be modified to ensure a consistent reading with the rest of the Recommendation as well as the Directive on Adequate Minimum Wages in the EU. This means deleting the word “generally”.

Similarly recital 13 must be modified to ensure that unions are not pressurised to give up or share prerogatives with non-union representatives. Therefore the last sentence of the recital should be deleted.

In recital 15, there is a lack of clarity regarding the references to the favourability principle and deviations that could undermine the application and respect of collective agreements. The relevance of these concepts in the context of the Recommendation is not clear, and the ambiguous wording creates a harmful confusion that must be avoided by removing these references.

In order to ensure an effective and positive impact of this Recommendation, we strongly urge you to address these concerns in your final deliberations on the Recommendation.

Your Sincerely,

Claes-Mikael Ståhl
ETUC Deputy General Secretary