What is Social Dialogue?
Social dialogue is a consultation between trade unions, employers and the government about both, economic and social issues. The formal definition of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) is as follows: “all types of negotiation, consultation or simply exchange of information between, or among, representatives of governments, employers and employees, on issues of common interest relating to economic and social policy” (ILO, 2018). It is based on the right to collective bargaining agreement and on freedom of association. Social dialogue incorporates each country’s historical, cultural, economic and political setting. Therefore, social dialogue is adopted based on the local circumstances, being diverse in legal framework, practices, and traditions, the process might vary from country to country.
Although the accepted definition of social dialogue mentioned before is very broad, there are various characteristics that indicate what cannot be considered as a social dialogue:
- Social dialogue does not include general information sharing on working conditions between employers and their employees. For example, annual employee contract negotiations are considered standard business practice.
- Social dialogue requires a two-way interaction between parties involved. For example, if an employer proposes a new policy which requires employees to work a certain number of hours and they do not have the opportunity to respond to this request, there is no social dialogue.
For more information on social dialogue, also see Benefits of Social Dialogue, the Video Library and the Resource Library.