Launch of the PESSIS Project

Monday, 16 January 2012 00:00

On the 9th and 10th January 2012, CEDAG participated in the kick-off meeting in Brussels launching the project Promoting employers’ social services organisations in social dialogue (PESSIS) which will run for 9 months until September 2012.

The project, funded by the European Programme Industrial relations and Social dialogue, is supported by a broad partnership of European and national organisations representing social and health services providers.

CEDAG is among the European partners including  Caritas Europa, Eurodiaconia, the European Platform for Rehabilitation (EPR), European Federation of National Organizations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA), the European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD), SOLIDAR, Workability Europe and the European Federation of public services union (EPSU).

The main aim of this initiative is to remedy to the lack of qualitative and quantitative data on labour issues in the sector from the perspective of employers and to promote a culture of social dialogue.

Though the social services sector represents a considerable share of the EU workforce, it does not have a place in the European social dialogue. This partly depends on the lack of employers’ representative structures at national level with and a recognized role in social dialogue. The situation is indeed very scattered at national level since in very few countries such as Belgium social services employers participate in collective bargaining about labour issues.

 How social dialogue is organised at national and European level?

Putting it into context, social dialogue is the collective bargaining happening between employers and employees which together represents the social partners.

Social dialogue can happen at bi-partite level, involving organisations representing employers and trade unions for employees, or tri-partite level where public authorities participate along social partners. At European level social dialogue happens at cross-industry and sectoral level and the Commission has the obligation to consult social partners on a variety of social affairs.building bricks c

PESSIS is the first step in a longer term process which has the creation of a sectoral committee in European social dialogue representing employers and workers in the social services sector as ultimate goal. The necessary element which would make it possible is the establishment of a platform at European level representing employers in the sector with members in a significant number of member states.

The preliminary phase of the project is a mapping exercise aiming at collecting information on the existence, the functioning and organization of social dialogue and the involvement of the social services sector in 11 countries (Austria, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Finland, France, Ireland, Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, UK). The National Partners, together with the Researchers in their respective country, will reach out to other employers in the sector for the collection of comprehensive data. A crucial moment for checking all data collected against reality and to exchange experiences with other relevant actors will be the national meetings, where the highest possible number of stakeholders will be involved. 

These meetings will offer an opportunity for the National Researchers to meet with all key players in their country, namely organisations or platforms set up to do the collective bargaining. Starting from the subsectors well covered by the partnership, such as elderly care, long-term care, services for people with disabilities and rehabilitation, this mapping exercise aims at covering the bulk of all personal social services, including, e.g., the child care sector.

The European partners will be responsible of coordinating the research and act as “sounding board” for the national partners. In particular, the European Federation of public services union (EPSU), and selected affiliates at national level, will participate with an advisory role to assess the research findings and provide the employees’ perspective.

The research carried out at national level will feed in different national reports which will be then compiled and validated by a Coordinating Researcher who will oversee the whole research, provide methodological support and complement any missing information. The final expected result is a EU summary report with a comparative analysis of the main features as well as best practices and barriers in different national contexts and recommendations.

The research results will be presented at the final conference in June that will be attended by social services providers, social partners, academics, public authorities and representatives of European institutions. This would be the opportunity to assess the success of the project and discuss with relevant national and European stakeholders the way forward.

Good working conditions is at the core of the quality of social services, as they are for almost 80% staff costs. Quality of services and quality of employment should therefore go in hand and social dialogue could help in reconciliating both aspects.