The social dialogue is the key to social cohesion in the Western Balkans

Social dialogue is the pivot of social cohesion in Europe, especially in Western Balkans, where it is increasingly necessary to ensure a solution to the problem of building a peaceful society able to achieve at all levels the necessary European integration. These were the issues dealt with in the seminar that took place from 14 to 16 November 2013 in Dubrovnik, Croatia, within the EZA special project for workers’ organizations of the Western Balkans. Titel of the seminar was “The social dialogue is the key to social cohesion in the Western Balkans”. It was organized by MCL / EFAL (Movimento Cristiano Lavoratori / Ente Nazionale per la Formazione e l'Addestramento dei Lavoratori) together with ZD NSi (Združenje delavcev Nove Slovenije) and HKD Napredak (Hrvatsko kulturno društvo Napredak) and was supported by EZA and the European Union. It was attended by about 30 representatives of workers’ organizations.

The seminar addressed the topics of the European integration of the Western Balkans, of social, cultural and religious dialogue, of the commitment of civil society and in particular workers. The reflection was centered on the prospect of the European integration of the entire area of the Western Balkans.

During the debate, an analysis was made of the status of the various countries in their negotiations with the EU for membership. It was observed the distance still existing and the difficulties of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Good note was taken of the progress made by Serbia last September with the launch of the first phase of negotiations for membership. The road is still long for all, the corruption and weakness of democratic institutions is important.

Workers are deeply concerned about the state of social dialogue; they see a worsening of the quality of work and the weakness of the protection of the rights which are often totally disregarded. There is no real agreement for the social dialogue and cohesion is still weak. Class differences are high and poverty is growing because of the lack of a qualified professional training.

The role of workers' organizations can grow but strong divisions remain and civil society does not yet have a strong role of social responsibility. The seminar has noted that the "remnants of the dominant ideologies in the old system" are still able to influence and support forms of government that, in essence, try to manipulate the social dialogue and prefer to exercise power with "a certain attention to the past" and not without populist actions.

Education becomes the pivot of change which is not an easy or quick process. In the societies of the Western Balkans the intercultural and religious dialogue cannot be neglected: this phenomenon is the origin of the dissolution of Yugoslavia and many of the reasons for the war. We cannot let the passing of time to be the only molding element of the new cohesion. The workers shall have the task to re-establish the rule of law in society and labour as the basis for society.