German and Belgian employers’ social services organisations support further steps towards an European Social Dialogue
German employers’ social services organisations believe that European Social Dialogue is an important instrument to strengthen social services and to address future challenges of the sector such as the increasing impact of digitalisation. In their point of view, building a European Social Dialogue would be a unique opportunity for the sector to take part in European policy initiatives. Before each European Social Dialogue meeting in Brussels, representatives of the employers’ organisations of AWO (Arbeiterwohlfahrt), Caritas and Diakonie met in Berlin to discuss the draft Common Declaration.
The latest European Social Dialogue meeting which took place on 4th October 2016 in Brussels fostered further exchange with their colleagues from Austria, Belgium and France. The discussions on common point of views and differences emphasised the value of working together and strengthened the employers’ interest in further exchange. The meeting that successfully resulted into the finalisation of the Common Declaration encourages German employers to take the next steps within the PESSIS process, working on a Sectoral Agreement.
Belgian employers' social serivces organisations position
As part of the third phase of the PESSIS project, UNIPSO (Union des entrerprises à profit social) organized a meeting on 21st March 2016 with Belgian representatives of employers from the social services sector (support and housing for people with disabilities, health care, home care Services, day care for children, youth help services etc) to reflect on relevant issues for the social services sector to deal with the European Social Dialogue.
The exchange between the participants was very interesting and made it possible to identify certain points of attention and reflection that UNIPSO wishes to include in the Joint Declaration which will be presented at a meeting with representatives of the European Parliament in 2017.
Participants stressed the importance of developing a European political project based on a strong social dimension. It is also important that the European social model combines economic dynamism, entrepreneurial spirit with social progress and the development of an inclusive and equitable society for all European citizens. In the development of a social Europe, it is necessary to take into account the values that characterize the social sector: solidarity, added value and social purpose, accessibility of services, quality of human relationships within services.
In this context, the meeting identified main concerns, namely:
to preserve values and the specificities of the sector for social benefit and, as a corollary, to avoid the downgrading of the social model, especially in the context of budgetary restrictions (commodification risk)
to recognize the quality of services for social benefit and the professionalism associated with it
link the themes handled closer to the field, in connection with the actors concerned.
A reflection was conducted on more precise themes that can be dealt with at European social dialogue level from the specific point of view of the sector for social benefit. These included: organization of working time, quality and safety at work, mobility of workers and the issue of cross-border workers, vocational training, the Europe 2020 Strategy, the Social Investment Package, the Semester European…
The conclusions of the meeting were then presented to the UNIPSO’s Board for approval. Reflection continues with the Belgian representatives of employers who are very interested in this project, which should lead to a better representation of employers in the social services sector in the European social dialogue.