Extending the research on social dialogue in the social and health services sector to Hungary, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and United Kingdom

Part of the research to inform PESSIS III has involved the development of five case studies of social dialogue in the social services sector in five Member States: Hungary, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and the United Kingdom. The research has found that there are both similarities and differences between the five countries.

Almost all countries are undergoing change in their social services sectors, with the future of long term funding posing specific problems for planning and maintaining a high quality workforce. The sector is characterised in all countries by low pay, shortage of workers, lack of training and problems with recruitment and retention. The future of the social services sector depends on finding solutions to these issues.

The extent of public, private and not for profit/ social economy provision varies from country to country. The UK has almost 50% private provision. Portugal has a growing social economy sector. Romania, Slovakia and Hungary still have a strong public provision but private and not-for profit providers are expanding. The extent to which the social services are covered by collective bargaining agreements varies from country to country. In Hungary, collective bargaining agreements are in place for social workers, nursery workers and are negotiated at workplace level. In Portugal there has been a decline in collective agreements since 2008 and the financial crisis.

In some countries social dialogue there is supportive legislation but often a lack of employers’ organisations. Several respondents from the social services sector welcomed the opportunity to work at an EU level so that they could share experiences and learn from examples of good practice.

Jane Lethbridge
Director of Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU)