The ITUC/PERC-ETUC-FES regional conference “Social Dialogue in Europe” for the South Caucasus

On 5-6 November the ITUC/PERC, in cooperation with FES and ETUC, organised a regional conference “Social Dialogue in Europe” for the South Caucasus – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia - in Tbilisi.

The participants discussed the principles of the Social dialog in European countries, its existing challenges in the countries of South Caucasus and adopted

Declaration of the ITUC/PERC-ETUC-FES regional conference “Social Dialogue in Europe” for the South Caucasus –Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Tbilisi, 5-6 November 2008

The participants of the regional conference for the Caucasus region “Social dialogue in Europe” organised by the Pan European Regional Council and supported by the European Trade Union Confederation and Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Tbilisi on 5-6 November 2008 having discussed

-  the situation in the region facing the challenges of the process of transition to democracy and market economy;
-  the evident failure of neo-liberal policies and the consequences of the current global financial crisis and economic recession for the working people and trade unions in the region;
-  the legal base, institutional arrangements, the policies and practical operation of social dialogue on the level of the European Union and within members states – old and new ones;
-  the importance of building consensus in society through social partnership and a culture of participatory democracy, i.e. open, transparent engagement of the authorities in dialogue with all parts of society;
-  the need for special efforts for developing efficient labour market policy, addressing particularly the issues of unemployment and the “shadow economy”;
-  the need to develop adequate systems of labour relations and social protection to support and guarantee the achievements of the reforms, realised with great sacrifices of the people

underline the crucial role that social dialogue (social partnership) at different levels can play in stabilising the policies of transformation, political democracy and good governance and competitiveness of the economy while raising employment levels and the living standards of the population.

The trade unions of the region backed by the international and European trade unions demand that measures are taken urgently to institutionalise tripartite and bipartite social dialogue systems at all levels and secure favourable conditions for the further consolidation and organisational development of the trade union and employer organisations. Quick progress in the area of social dialogue and labour relations is essential for countries that declare themselves oriented towards European values and standards and are in the process of building cooperation with the European Union. It can open new opportunities for support from European institutions and EU delegations on the ground.

Continuing globalisation of production and the spread of transnational companies requires further international trade union cooperation to build independent trade union counterparts to the TNCs and the establishment of proper negotiation relations with them.