From 12 to 13 March 2018 took place in Vienna (Austria) a seminar about “Capacity building for social dialogue in the public administration sector”, organized by EUROFEDOP (Europese Federatie van het Overheidspersoneel), with the support of EZA and of the European Union.
The two-day Seminar offered a rich programme for the participants. While developing the programme, the organizers have taken the different social dialogue practices of the representatives of the participating countries into account. Fritz Neugebauer, the president of Eurofedop stressed that negotiations are equally important in every nation and that the European Union established the required structure for social dialogue to take place, but the way in which social dialogue is organised at national level, remains the responsibility of each member state. As he said: “It is a proven scientific fact, that social dialogue is advantageous for the society from both an economic and a social point of view”.
Bert van Caelenberg, the Secretary General of Eurofedop explained: an increasing use of ICT at work has caused that the Public Administration faces the big challenge of adaptation to the constantly changing labour market, as well as the problems of part-time employment and precarious work, the adaptation to social changes, the constant development, as well as the planning of the conditions of telework jobs.
Participants were able to see and hear positive examples on the challenges of the modern age from the presentations:
Dr. Karin Petter-Trausnitz from Austria, FCG spoke about work-life balance. Árpád, top-level manager from the Hungarian Tax and Customs Authority (NAV) as well as member of trade union VPDSZ explained the recent and upcoming developments of the e-personal taxation. The members of the Seminar have visited the building of the Federal Ministry of Finance, where Mag. Alfred Hacker held a presentation about the “implementation of modern ICT”. In his presentation, he presented the structure, strategy and the digitalization process of the Ministry. Herbert Bayer, the president of the national section of finances presented the conversion of the Ministry from a trade union point of view. On the second morning of the Seminar, the participants were given an overview about the structure of workers’ organizations in Austria by Wilhelm Gloss.
After discussing the positive examples, several problems have been discovered during the debate from the Eastern-European and Balkan countries: it turned out that in many places the ILO ratified provisions are not kept, at other places like in Albania trials due to illegal lay-offs can be dragging on for years. It is common that there is no sufficient child care system, no nursery care at working places and there is a significant gender pay gap in the Public Administration sector. In specific countries, such as Serbia, where digitalization is not widespread, workers are worried that this transition involves negative consequences such as the depression of workers and unemployment. In countries where digitalization is in a more elevated state, such as Austria, or Hungary, there was a more positive opinion about the tendencies.
During the last part of the Seminar the participants have agreed upon a common proclamation, which content will cover besides wages, the amelioration of the work environment. This includes the professional development, the compatibility of family and work, general health and the equal appreciation of men and women. Social dialogue gets a great emphasis, more detailed the limit of working time, the regulation of leave of absence and overtime and the redirection of the workforce being dismissed due to digitalization into other jobs. Employers need to take into account the need of nursery care and should secure such allowances to parents with small children as part-time job and home office.
At the end of the Seminar, the participants have accepted the proclamation with minor changes which will be sent out later in English.
Bert van Caelenberg closed the day with the following words: In the European Union social dialogue has an important role. The European Parliament has established a framework agreement for forty sectors. Unfortunately, the Public Administration sector is not included in this agreement, therefore the common proclamation has great significance. The preservation of the minimal trends, the intensive negotiations and the establishment of trust is important.
Reconciliation of career development and individual family planning is also an issue of great importance for the public services in the countries of the Western Balkans as well as the Central and Eastern European countries.
Good job performance depends not only on factors such as having a steady job or a regular income, but is rather the result of the interaction of a number of different factors.
One important factor is to have a good work-life balance in order to stay healthy and productive.
EUROFEDOP therefore calls for a common approach focused on promoting the importance of family friendly working arrangements for women and men working in the sector, and calls on the public employers
- to respect and appreciate more fully the efforts undertaken by mothers and fathers to organise their professional and personal lives as well as their everyday lives;
- to assume their organisational responsibility for employees regarding reconciliation of both spheres of life through social dialogue (e.g. in the case of working time arrangements, when requesting overtime, for holiday planning, when introducing new working methods, assigning jobs in other locations);
- and also urges the public employers, taking into account operational needs,
- to support and to make it easier for mothers and fathers, in individual cases, to perform their professional and family responsibilities, as well as
- to promote the individual reconciliation of both spheres of life, e.g. by part-time employment
- to pay more attention to the social challenges posed by the increased needs of women and men to care for their families and to take account of this. Today, mothers or parents are at greater risk of falling into poverty, especially when several people have to live on an extremely low income. Furthermore, there is a pressing need for more crèches, nurseries and day-care centres as well as further tax cuts. For many the risk of falling into poverty is the reason why they do not choose to start a family and have children.
These requests EUROFEDOP is making in this resolution are based on the conviction that we need a EUROPE that is aimed at guaranteeing us and our children prosperity and the right to an adequate standard of living.
Vienna, 13th March 2018 Unanimously adopted