Strengthening the social dimension in the European Packaging Sector: towards a functioning and representative European Social Dialogue committee (part 1)

With the financial support of the European Union and EZA, BIE International organized a European online workshop on the social dialogue in the packaging sector with the title “Strengthening the social dimension in the European Packaging Sector: towards a functioning and representative European Social Dialogue committee” (part 1). This is a growth sector that is facing substantial changes as a result of digitalisation and the development of e-commerce, as well as the pressures to decarbonise the economy.

The present crisis has accelerated these trends and put the sector in focus as an essential sector. However, the sector is diluted in different European social dialogue roundtables, where it is not a dominant sector.  BIE International cooperated very closely with UNI Europa Graphical & Packaging (UNI G&P) to ensure the quality of this workshop.

For UNI Europa Graphical, it is a priority to develop an effective social dialogue in the sector, in order to address the challenges of digitalisation, green transition and European recovery. This workshop was a first step to share with the UNI G&P affiliates and IndustriAll European Trade Union how to tackle this challenge.

19 key role players from the sector coming from trade union organizations from 9 countries (Belgium, Spain, Italy, Poland, Germany, Austria, the UK, France and Finland) participated in the seminar.

We took stock of social dialogue in this highly diverse sector in order to decide how to proceed from now on. In his opening speech as the new policy officer for UNI-Europa, Luca Baldan underlined the importance of a vibrant social dialogue. The chemicals and paper production strands already have their own European Social Dialogue Committees (SDCs) and these were presented at the workshop by Maike Niggeman, a policy advisor at IndustriAll Europe and Gerald Kreuzer from the Austrian union PRO-GE.

Daniel Fernandez from UNI-Europa explained that the printing strand did not have an SDC to support it at present. Maila Puolamaa, who covers the energy intensive industries at the European Commission, gave a brilliant presentation about how the EU’s Green Deal and Recovery Plan would impact the sector.

After listening to the experts, participants had an interesting exchange on improving the social dialogue in both quantitative and qualitative terms. The President of UNI-Europa G&P, Simon Dubbins, summarised the outcome as follows: we need to step up cooperation relating to the sector between UNI and IndustriAll, we need to establish what instruments we already have for social dialogue and work together on an effective strategy. BIE International will be organising a follow-up event for activists and the secretaries in February 2021.