DialogueS Final Conference “Social Dialogue in Social Services for a strong social Europe”

On 19th October 2020, the Social Employers and EPSU co-hosted online the Final Conference of the DialogueS project. The topic of discussion was “Social Dialogue in Social Services for a strong social Europe”.

The DialogueS Project launched in February 2019, has now came to an end. The Social Employers are looking forward to engage in new projects and continue the work together with EPSU to strengthen the capacity of social partners in social services, in order to set up the adequate (national and EU) sectoral social dialogue structures.

The aim of the Conference was to present an overview of the main project outcomes, draw the lessons learned and further build the path towards European sectoral social dialogue for social services.

The event was opened with welcoming remarks from Gregor Tomschizek, President of the Social Employers and Maryvonne Nicolle, President of EPSU’s Standing Committee for Health and Social Services. They gave a brief overview on the common work between the Social Employers and EPSU during the project, both highlighting the importance of further building social dialogue for the social services sector

This was followed by a video message from Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, who acknowledged the social services actors “for their remarkable work and for being in the front line in these exceptional times we are living in”. He also pointed out the importance of the social services sector in the implementation of the Commission’s initiatives and in the recovery process form the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, he highlighted the key role of constructive partnerships between employers and workers, especially in critical situations such as the one we are facing, and the “importance of social dialogue to achieve resilient and inclusive societies”.

During the first panel, the Social Employers presented the report on Benefits of Social Dialogue in Social Services, which was developed throughout the project. The report analyses current hindering factors for social dialogue in the DialogueS target countries, as well as the main needs, such as legislative reforms, increased membership and capacity, and better financial resources. It then highlights the benefits of social dialogue, including good practices and recommendations from Social Employers members.

The second panel  brought together employer and employee representatives from Romania, Greece and Portugal to provide an overview of the state of play of social services  and social dialogue at national level. From Romania, Razvan Gae, Sanitas Federation (member of EPSU), presented the situation of the sector and social dialogue in the country, as well as the impact of COVID-19 from employee perspectives. Giannis Bistas, EEA Margarita, from Greece, introduced the main difficulties in Greece to establish social dialogue in social services  and presented a new established network, representing Service Providers for People with Disabilities. From Portugal, Júlia Cardoso, Portuguese Social Workers Organisation, gave an overview of the situation in Portugal and the concrete actions taken to build capacity. All interventions highlighted  the need to further build capacity for structured social dialogue at national level and promote social dialogue culture.

During the afternoon session, Bettina Kromen, from the Modernisation of Social Protection Systems Unit of DG EMPL, European Commission, presented the EU Commission’s report on the impact of demographic change from June 2020. The report shows that long term care (LTC) faces many challenges in terms of the growing demand of workforce due to demographic change and the ageing of the workers, the quality of jobs and the impact of work on health. Eileen Rocard, from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), presented LTC workforce challenges and provided examples to improve working conditions and career opportunities in LTC, focused on recruitment and retention.

Finally, Jakob Embacher, Policy Assistant EPSU, and Sylvain Renouvel, Director Social Employers, presented jointly the Joint Position Paper on “Recruitment and Retention in Social Services Sector” and the newly adopted Joint Position Paper “Preparing the social services sector for the COVID-19 resurgence and increasing its resilience“.

The conference was concluded jointly by the Social Employers and EPSU.

Closing the conference, Penny Clarke, Deputy General Secretary, EPSU stated that:”In the face of the current crisis, we need to fight on different areas simultaneously. Building sectoral social dialogue in the social services sector will enable us to influence all these different areas at once. Social dialogue at EU level is key to develop a structured response, coordinated programmes and coordinated support to secure workers’ safety and health. EPSU is looking forward to next steps with the Social Employers in this area.”  Gregor Tomschizek, President, Social Employers, added:”Thanks to DialogueS, we gained in-depth insights into the social dialogue landscape in social services and built capacity in the project’s target countries in Central, Eastern and Southern Europe. DialogueS also allowed us to further develop the fruitful cooperation with EPSU and work together as social partners in social services on joint actions and outputs, aimed at supporting the sector to face current challenges and best prepare for the future. We look forward to go further in Social Dialogue in Social Services.

Supporting documents

Summary report, here.