Fabian Demicoli

SME European Social Dialogue Working Session


PEGASE
is a project promoted by UEAPME to enhance the
participation of SME organisations in
the European Social Dialogue. The second PEGASE European Social
Dialogue session was held on the 12/13 June with the theme Preparing the European Social Dialogue for Small Micro Enterprises.

Ms.
Lilian Volozinskis UEAPME Social Affairs director welcomed the group and gave a
brief background of the last session and hi-lighted the main objectives of this
session. First we discussed a study on the preconditions for forming business
interest associations for SMEs and their status regarding the social dialogue.
It resulted that in the current business environment SMEs are finding it very
difficult to self organize and be sustainable. Hence the need for external
support from the government or Big Business Organizations (BBOs) is imperative.
Nevertheless, the existence of influential SME organizations remains essential
to: respect democracy, be able to participate as full partners in Social
Dialogue at all levels and to guarantee their autonomy.

Ms. Helen Hoffman, UEAPME
Advisor for Social Affairs, and Mr Blando Palmieri from Academy Avignon presented
findings of a follow up questionnaire sent to members regarding the state of
play of Social Dialogue in the 9 countries and the respective SME
organizations. It was evident that the direct participation of SME Organisation
in collective bargaining is not on the same level in each country. In fact only
2 out of the 9 representing countries of the Pegase project, HUP in Croatia and
AECSS in Slovenia, are negotiating collective agreements. Other countries such
as Malta, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Turkey do not
participate directly in collective bargaining at national or sectoral level.
Collective agreements are not legally binding for SMEs in Czeck Rep. and in
Poland. On the other hand they are legally binding for SMEs in Malta, Estonia
and Slovenia. In view of the weak participation of SMEs in collective
bargaining and in bi-partite social dialogue it was recommended to better pool
resources on a larger scale and making links at sectorial and territorial
social dialogue levels.

Ms Doboszynska from ZRP
presented the successful use of the European Social Fund for capacity building
in Poland. She hi-lighted that their success in tapping such an opportunity
(European Social Fund) was due to the solid legal basis and status of ZRP as
social partner.

Ms Willems outlined the
different projects being carried out by Unizo in supporting the development of
SME organizations in new member states and candidate countries. SMEs could  benefit from increased co-operation among
sister organizations, including cross-border, as well as exchange of
knowledge  and good practices on how to
attract new members and increase representativeness through the development of
tailor made services for members.

The last session concerned a
presentation on the Pegase website and newsletter. The new website also
includes a "members only section" where members can browse the latest
information in line with the European Social Dialogue network. In conclusion Ms
Volozinskis hi-lighted the need to reflect on the opportunities that the Pegase
network activities are creating for the member organizations and the
possibility of their continuation.

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