SOCIAL DIALOGUE AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: AN AGENDA FOR CIVIL SOCIETY

In the global crisis conditions, the solution of social and economic problems requires the unification of efforts of all participants in the sphere of social and labor relations, and also, requires a social dialogue. Only a balance between the economic interests of business and the social rights of citizens can become the basis for sustainable development of both an individual country and the whole world. This is also understood by the European Union, understood by the UN. That is why the issue of social dialogue development and the issue of ensuring sustainable development is also heard in decisions of the UN General Assembly, decisions of the International Labor Organization, and in the documents of the European Union. An important component of the successful European integration of the Eastern Partnership countries is also the provision of sustainable development and enhancement of the effectiveness of the social dialogue, which, in addition to traditional social partners, - trade unions and employers' organizations - should also involve civil society organizations.
 
Issues of social dialogue and participation in it NGOs are being developed within the framework of the project "Together the Stronger - a New Social Dialogue in the Eastern Partnership Countries" by the Bureau of Social and Political Development. The international round table entitled "Social Dialogue and Sustainable Development: An Agenda for Civil Society" with the participation of representatives of the European Economic and Social Committee and the International Labor Organization was held recently in Kyiv. The chairman of the Board of the Bureau, Rostislav Dzundza, said that "all indifferent public activists need to stimulate and encourage effective partnership between the public and private sectors and civil society organizations" to create a more comprehensive system of social dialogue in Ukraine.
G.P .: Tell us more about the project. Who does it affect and what does it affect?
RD: The project "Together Stronger - A New Social Dialogue in Eastern Partnership Countries" is being implemented by the Bureau of Social and Political Developments supported by the Secretariat of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum. Within the framework of the project, it is planned to develop a common vision of different stakeholders for  a model of social dialogue that would meet the European aspirations of Ukraine and would be an effective tool for ensuring the social and labor rights of Ukrainians and ensuring sustainable development of Ukraine.
GP: What problems, in your opinion, can be distinguished in the organization of the process of social dialogue in Ukraine?
RD: The implementation of the "Together Stronger - New Social Dialogue in the Eastern Partnership" project reveals some systemic problems in the process of organizing social dialogue, first of all: with the participants in the social dialogue, with the issues discussed by the parties, as well as with the adoption process And implementation of  decisions.
First, social partners are concerned about expanding the format of social dialogue to non-governmental (community and charitable) organizations. In turn, this problem affects the "openness" of social dialogue and intersects with the problem of "representativeness" of social partners, which in the present conditions is an instrument of monopolization of the sides of social dialogue, who, fearing to lose monopoly management of the process, block access of public organizations. These act have got negative influence on its effectiveness.
 Without systematic work to improve the effectiveness of social dialogue and finding of  new conceptual approaches to developing joint solutions, the impact of social partners on solving socio-economic problems will be constantly diminished.
GP: What would you recommend in this case?
RD: Project implementation shows the need to combine two processes: the process of "democratization of representativeness" and the process of expanding the format of participants. The first is to ensure transparency of the procedures for obtaining representativeness and the inclusion of trade unions and employers' organizations in social dialogue, the second - through the involvement of an NGO with an advisory, expert function. It is also clear that there are sectors where it is impossible to represent representativeness, first and foremost, the subject of collective-contractual relations. If a collective agreement or agreement is concluded by those who are not responsible for its implementation, it loses any meaning
Only this approach will revive the process of social dialogue in Ukraine and give it a new impetus. It will also increase the advocacy impact on the government in order to ensure the implementation of the social partners decisions.
GP: But is there any suggestion that involvement of an NGO may not be in the interests of social dialogue?
RD: Yes, the project participants have repeatedly noted that the involvement of NGOs by some social partners can be perceived as "blurring the borders" of social dialogue and the threat of tri-partisanship system.Although there is no objection in the debate process that public and charitable organizations should be involved in social dialogue with the right of an advisory voice and for an independent examination on specific issues related to their activities, there should be clear criteria for their conditional "representativeness" » However, I want to emphasize that nobody is going to introduce representativeness for NGOs, but it is necessary to develop criteria for the participation of non-governmental organizations in the processes of social dialogue in order to understand who exactly these organizations represent. The International Labor Organization in its documents also speaks about the "representativeness" of non-governmental organizations involved in social dialogue, that is, "the ice crumble".
G.P .: What might these criteria be?
R.D .:Only organizations that really represent a particular social group or expert community, have an impact on the community, relevant experience and expertise, or as an independent auditor, should be involved in consultation and discussion of issues within the framework of social dialogue with trade unions and employers' organizations. To monitor the implementation of decisions of social partners on the one hand, and as an advisory institution in the framework of solving example of environmental issues - on the other.
GP: What are the consequences of a social dialogue participant problem?
RD: The problem of participants and topics of social dialogue automatically affects the problem of making and taking decisions. If we analyze the demands of trade unions in 2015, then a significant part of the requirements was to mechanically increase wages, pensions and social benefits. At the same time, a strict policy of optimization and reduction of social payments is being pursued by the state. This is accompanied by a "declared deregulation" and the liberalization of social and labor legislation. Such conflicting interests, which do not have an ideological platform for finding a compromise, lead to the following: it is not beneficial for the state to increase the effectiveness of social dialogue; The National Tripartite Social and Economic Council has the functions of an exclusively "consultative" body and its influence is constantly diminishing; There is a reduction in the influence of social partners, both at the state and at the local level, I must also say about the danger of substituting social dialogue for dialogue with non-governmental organizations, which is much easier to manipulate.
G.P .: What should be the approaches to the formation of social dialogue?
RD: Social dialogue, as an instrument for sustainable development, is an important approach for shaping the thematic field for the parties to the social dialogue. It should combine social, economic and environmental development issues. This will allow for a comprehensive approach to the question of planning and reaching constructive solutions in socio-economic development, not only at the country level, but also at the level of individual regions.
GP: Has something done in this direction over the last few years?
RD: The idea of ​​"sustainable development" has not yet been fully understood among social partners and civil society . In the context of European integration, social partners are diverting attention to the field of environmental policy in terms of socioeconomic implications for the employment and labor market, and the issues of ensuring the competitiveness of enterprises. At the same time, documents in the EU state that it is impossible to achieve the goals and objectives of sustainable development without the active participation of stakeholders, including in the field of labor.
This problem can be noticed also by the third party of the social dialogue - the state: "The Strategy for Sustainable Development" Ukraine-2020 "does not consider social and environmental issues relevant aspects of reforms. Instead, in many articles of the Association Agreement, the theses on sustainable development and social dialogue are read, and Article 299 of the Agreement even provides for the creation of expert groups covering aspects of sustainable development (in the context of the thematic area "Trade and sustainable development"). These groups could serve as a monitoring tool for civil society, covering aspects of sustainable development. The key role in these groups should be secured by social partners and think tanks working in the social and environmental field. Promoting sustainable development of the country in today's environment is becoming the most important task of social dialogue. The transition to the term "sustainable development" allows, first of all, to obtain comprehensive criteria and indicators for assessing the effectiveness of social dialogue and the overall reform of the country.
In the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union, promoting sustainable development is seen as one of the main principles for strengthening cooperation between the parties, who recognize the importance of taking into account the economic, social and environmental interests of the population as a whole, as well as future generations.
 
 
Науково-достідний інститут Unicef Європейський союз Civil Society Forum Карітас України international renaissance foundation Європейська соціальна мережа