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Social dialogue makes a difference in reducing inequalities according to ILO/EC report

24 February 2017


Social dialogue makes a difference in reducing inequalities according to ILO/EC report

EU countries with coordinated bargaining systems have been successful at preventing the growth of inequalities on the labour market, while the erosion of collective bargaining in other EU countries has led to an increased number of low-paid jobs or increasing inequality among the workforce.

This is one of the findings of the report Inequalities and the World of Work: What role for industrial relations and social dialogue?, produced by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in cooperation with the European Commission.

The report was presented and discussed during a two-day conference in Brussels on 23 and 24 February.

Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Labour Mobility and Skills welcomed the findings of the report. She stressed that

  • social partners have a key role to play in finding the right balance between flexibility and security.
  • social dialogue is at the core of the efforts in the European Union to ensure a competitive and inclusive labour market where nobody is left behind.

In addition, social partners will have a crucial role to play in the follow-up and implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights.


The purpose of the conference was to investigate on the basis of the report the possible role of social dialogue, social partners and industrial relations to reduce inequalities in the world of work.

The scope of the report goes beyond pay inequalities to address other types of inequality, such as

  • inequality in the distribution (and perhaps payment) of working time.
  • access or re-access to jobs.
  • access to training and career opportunities.
  • access to social protection or to pensions.
  • inequalities that may affect particular groups of workers, such as women or young people.
  • inequalities under certain types of work arrangements, such as part-time workers, temporary workers and the self-employed.

The conference was attended by government, trade union and employer representatives and experts from 30 countries.

Policy debates were organised with round table discussions between

  • high-level representatives of Ministries of Labour and Employment,.
  •  European social partners.

and a final policy session with

  • high-level representatives of European and International employers’ and trade unions’ representatives,.
  • the European Commission.
  • the ILO.