European Social Christian oriented unions held an EZA sponsored two-day seminar in Vienna about the Social Dialogue in Europe (April 18-19). Trade union representatives of 17 European countries listened and debated with 12 speakers and discussed matters in working groups. The seminar was organized by WOW together with its member-organisation from Austria, the Christian Fraction of the trade union GPA-djp.
In working groups they discussed on such questions as if they consider the Social Dialogue in their country as a success, if not why not, what the role is of the trade unions in the Social Dialogue, if employers and governments respect the trade unions as their social partners, what should be the future of Social Dialogue, what is the position of trade unions in the society (trade unions in Europe are losing members) etc?
Speakers from countries that have a long-term experience with Social Dialogue like for example Austria, Denmark and the Netherlands agreed that the Social Dialogue has brought stability and welfare for all people in their countries. But they also concluded that because of the globalisation, the fast technological developments, the demographic developments (people become older), the financial crisis of 2008, the European crisis today, etc. it is necessary to revaluate the Christian social values and based on this revaluation to come to a redefinition of the employment conditions and functioning of the labor market.
However, in other countries the Social Dialogue is still ‘under construction’ because governments and or employers do not respect the trade unions, don’t want to enter in a dialogue or use the dialogue just for their own political agenda. In some countries like for example Serbia, employers don’t even accept the existence of a trade union in their company. Trade unions have still to struggle to become recognised as a valuable partner for democracy, socio-economic progress and social justice.
The participants agreed that trade unions should have the courage to look with fresh eyes to the labor world of today and based on a revaluation of Christian social values should reformulate how “redecorate the labor world with new wallpaper and new furniture”.