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The right wing’s embrace of yellow trade unions is eroding social dialogue, warn S&Ds


01 Jun 2023



Today, the European Parliament is set to adopt a resolution that strengthens social dialogue, which is a key component of a well-functioning economy and a prosperous society. Regardless of this, the conservative and liberal forces in this house are trying to weaken it. During the negotiations, the right wing has been pushing to promote yellow trade unions – who work in the interests of employers rather than workers – regret the S&Ds. Against these attacks; the Group reiterates its relentless support for workers’ organisations, the right to collective bargaining, and fundamental social values.

Agnes Jongerius, S&D spokesperson for employment and European Parliament’s rapporteur on strengthening of social dialogue, said:

“This is a very strong and progressive resolution. We can only deplore the conservatives’ and liberals’ attempts to water it down. Such attempts are not only an assault against workers and social partners; they are also an attack against a democratic and prosperous society. We know that countries with strong social dialogue and high collective bargaining coverage tend to have more competitive, inclusive and resilient economies.

“Our Group stands firm in defence of independent trade unions against the right wing’s push for yellow trade unions, also known as company trade unions, as they are controlled by the employer. Workers’ right to bargain collectively is sacred. We set a goal of 80% collective bargaining coverage. To achieve it, we need to strengthen social partners, particularly the trade unions.

“We should also be wary of the right’s attempts to enforce the ‘right to work’, which in reality tries to weaken the right of association, collective bargaining and collective action. As Martin Luther King Jr said: ‘In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as right to work. It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. Its purpose is to destroy labour unions and the freedom of collective bargaining’.

“Furthermore, the conservative European People’s Party is trying to erode the principle of social conditionality in rules on EU funding. This principle is crucial. It means that not a single euro from the European budget should be spent on projects that do not respect the social and working standards for which we have fought so long and so hard.

“There are many more key messages in the resolution, such as a call for more financial, legal and technical support for social partners. We also welcome the Commission’s plans to appoint social dialogue coordinators across all its services, and we urge it to give them a strong mandate with clear rights and responsibilities. This is essential to ensure that any new EU legislation will indeed strengthen social dialogue.

“Last but not least, a word to employers – we cannot have a social dialogue if one of the partners always says ‘no’. As the saying goes, it takes two to tango.”

Note to editors:

The resolution on the strengthening of social dialogue is the European Parliament’s response to the European Commission’s recommendation on this matter, presented in January 2023. It is the Parliament’s contribution to the efforts of promoting social dialogue in the EU.


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