Brussels, 11 June 2010
EU launches European social dialogue with education workers and employers
The Commission launched today a new social dialogue committee in education with teachers, trainers, lecturers and education authorities from across the EU to tackle challenges facing their sector. Education and research employs 14.7 million workers and represents 5.7% of EU GDP. This new committee brings together trade unions and employers' organisations from the sector to discuss issues such as the quality of education, classroom violence, adapting to demographic trends and the impacts of public spending cuts. Sectoral social dialogue committees can launch joint actions, adopt guidelines and conclude agreements, contributing directly to shaping EU labour legislation and policies.
"Education is both a political priority and a key sector of the labour market in Europe, but in these times of crisis it faces more challenges than ever, from budget constraints to teacher recruitment," said László Andor, EU Commissioner for social affairs. "The European social dialogue on education is a crucial tool to bring employers and employees together and tackle these challenges with joint solutions."
The new committee is holding its inaugural meeting in Brussels today and brings together the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) – composed of teachers’, trainers’ and lecturers’ trade unions – and the European Federation of Education Employers (EFEE) – representing education ministries, regional and local authorities, state agencies and other types of employers’ organisations.
On the agenda will be improving the teaching, working and learning environment by identifying and exchanging good practices. The committee will also discuss issues such as the impact of demographic trends and the recruitment and retention of staff in a time of strict budgetary limitations. The ETUCE and EFEE are, in addition, already involved in negotiations with social partner organisations from other sectors on adopting EU-level guidelines to tackle third-party violence and harassment related to work.
The sector employs 14.7 million workers across the 27 EU countries and educates 93 million pupils and students every year. It represents EUR 583 billion of public spending every year, or 5.7% of EU GDP. The social dialogue will cover the entire sector: pre-primary, primary, secondary, vocational education and training, higher education and research.
The EU and the Commission are committed to promoting European social dialogue, both at cross-industry and sectoral level. Since 1998, the European Commission has created 39 sectoral social dialogue committees. These committees have adopted more than 500 texts such as autonomous agreements, codes of conduct, guidelines, framework of action and common websites. Agreements may be implemented through Council directives.
European social dialogue is part of our social model and is recognised as a tool of good governance and of social subsidiarity. In times of crisis, it has also demonstrated its role as an instrument of social resilience, helping to mitigate the negative social impact of recession.
European social dialogue refers to discussions, consultations, negotiations and joint actions involving organisations representing the two sides of industry (employers and workers).