European Sectoral Social Dialogue Committees (SSDC) are fora for consultation on European policies. They are also tools for autonomous social dialogue among the European social partners who may develop joint actions and conduct negotiations on issues of common interest, thereby contributing directly to shaping EU labour legislation and policies.
This policy instrument set up by the European Commission is provided to the social partners of chemical industry as well as to 42 other sectors operating in the internal market.
The counterpart of ECEG in the SSDC is industriAll Europe, representing around 8 million workers from all European countries.
As official sectoral social partners, the ECEG and industriAll Europe set up their Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee. They are autonomous in their work and responsible for the level and rhythm of their dialogue (number and type of meetings), the content of their dialogue (work programme, meeting agenda) and the outcome of their dialogue. The European Commission provides organisational, financial and policy support via a responsible policy officer.
The Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee for the chemicals, pharmaceuticals, rubber and plastics industries organises one plenary meeting as well as two (previously three) working group meetings per year.
Within the Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee, ECEG with its social partner deals with social affairs, but also touches upon many other issues such as economic policy, reindustrialisation, restructuring etc. Please consult ECEG’s Work Programme for 2016-2017 for more information.
For further information you may also visit the SSDC website.
At international level, social dialogue is defined by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) -“including all types of negotiation, consultation or simply exchange of information between, or among, representatives of governments, employers and workers on issues of common interest relating to economic and social policy”.
At European level, social dialogue is defined by provisions of Articles 152, 154 and 155 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). These articles provide European social dialogue with a framework and basic principles for its functioning.
Bipartite: this is the autonomous dialogue between employers’ organisations and workers’ organisations and it refers to discussions, consultations, negotiations and joint action involving the two sides of industry. Bipartite meetings take place within the Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee structure (SSDC).
Tripartite: the European tripartite social dialogue involves the European institutions (Commission, and where appropriate, Council and European Council) as well as the social partners. This takes place within the Tripartite Social Summit and allows for discussions on diverse policy areas, such as macroeconomic, employment, social protection and education and training.
The European Commission promoted the SSDC between the representatives of the European trade unions and employers’ organisations as an instrument for better governance and for social and economic reforms.
Social partners have reached a large number of autonomous agreements at the European level which they implement themselves, while others have been transformed into binding legislation.
The sectoral social dialogue committees consist of a maximum of 66 representatives of the social partners, comprising an equal number of employers’ and workers’ representatives. They are chaired either by a representative of the social partners or, at their request, by the representative of the Commission, who, in all cases, provides the secretariat for the committees.
Each committee adopts its own rules of procedure, and holds at least one plenary meeting per year, dealing with more specific questions at meetings of enlarged secretariats or restricted working parties. The task of preparing meetings, agenda-setting and follow-up is delegated to the respective secretariats of the social partners, together with the Commission.
The EU Social Dialogue Liaison Forum brings together social partners at cross-industry and sectoral level to provide information and discuss cross-cutting topics. It works to fostering synergies across sectors and between cross-industry and sectoral social dialogue. The liaison forum also provides a platform for social partners to present joint initiatives and share good practices, or discuss shared challenges.
In the course of the year, there are regular meetings dedicated to providing an update on social policy initiatives of the Commission, and on specific horizontal issues relevant to EU social partners.
The European Commission suggested in its 2004 Communication (re-affirmed in 2010) a typology to classify social dialogue outcomes according to both their binding or non-binding character and the implementation or follow-up given to them.