Exploring the Functions of an Employer's Organisation and Social Dialogue in Belgium: IWorCon project study visit

From 7 to 9 February the Coordinator of the IWorCon project, UNIPSO, hosted its study visit in Brussels. The aim of the visit was to present UNIPSO, their work as an employer’s organisation and to understand how social dialogue works in Belgium.

UNIPSO is a cross-sectoral and pluralist confederation of employers operating in the “social profit sector”, specifically within the French-speaking region of Belgium. UNIPSO represents 31 employers’ federations from both the private and public sector.

During the visit, the Social Employers together with the project partners from APSS CR (Czech Republic), NASOR (Bulgaria), The Net (Greece) and WRZOS(Poland) exchanged experiences on their organisations’ structures, funding and systems of social dialogue in each country.

The first day of the meeting started with the presentation of the 13 sectors covered by UNIPSO, which includes health and social care, culture, youth, sport, education, lifelong learning, etc. The study visit also provided valuable insights into the inner work of an employer’s organisation, its functions, funding mechanisms, membership structure, and governance model.

The second day started at APEF, an association that brings together employers’ and employees’ organisations from the French and German-speaking part of Belgium. These organisations manage the so-called “Life Security Funds” of the non-profit sectors, for employment and vocational training. The APEF coordinates and expands the activities of these Funds. It also ensures the promotion and development of the actions set up by these Funds. To be able to make an efficient use of the funds it is important to have a good collaboration between social partners.

Partners also had the opportunity to know more about UNIPSO’s role as an employers’ organisation and the role of social dialogue in Belgium. Dialogue between employers and employees in Belgium is structured on three complementary levels: within the company, at sectoral level and at cross-sectoral level.

In Belgium, social partners first discuss at formal or informal level and once they agree, they present their proposal to the government. Every 2 years in the non-profit sector, there are tripartite negotiations. The government provides funding to finance agreements between employers and employees.

This Was followed by a discussion on the different funding possibilities for employers’ organisations, including its potential advantages and disadvantages.

The last day of the meeting focused on the communication activities of UNIPSO regarding the Belgian elections and the sectors’ priorities collected in their memorandum, such as invest in services offering tailored needs, increase employment and the attractiveness of professions, promote a sustainable living environment and strengthen the governance of policies and partnerships with the social profit sector, among others.

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