Fabian Demicoli

Social Dialogue meeting in Brussels

GRTU's EU desk has this week once again participated
at the EuroCommerce Social Affairs Committee (SAC) and the Social Dialogue
Committee (SDC) meeting which is held on a tripartite level between Employers
Organisations and EuroCommerce as their representative, Trade Unions and
UniEuropa Commerce as their representative and the European Commission.

At the SAC employer representatives exchanged views
and held discussions and the EuroCommerce secretariat provided an update of
activities. During this update an urgent and important issue was discussed
related to a report being prepared by EESC members related to Self-Employment.
It was stated that this working document has improved but there are still some
aspects that are considered problematic. Work will be carried out in this
regard including a position paper, voting recommendations and work within the

During the SAC EuroCommerce also explained that an
Economic Study on Commerce will be conducted this year by EuroCommerce. This
initiative was taken following a number of important proposals concerning
commerce which would be needed in order to represent commerce with a stronger
position. The idea is to come up with figures and provide a good story for
commerce in relation to GDP, employment, investment, innovation, and more. The
result of this study will be disclosed at EuroCommerce's annual event.

Presentations were also delivered by the European
Association of Paritarian Institutions on the White Paper on Pensions and by
the European Banking Federation on their involvement in Social Dialogue. The
SAC closed with an update from all national representatives where the EU Desk
representing Malta also gave a national update where statistics were presented
stating that latest figures show that the unemployment level stood at 4.3% with
a total of 6,811 registered unemployed 78% of which were males and over 73%
being in the over 30 age group. The EU Desk also mentioned that on a national
level social partners have signed a declaration endorsing the Jobs+ report
which was presented by an employers organisation and we are also participating
as partners in an ESF funded project on Stress at Work. The meeting closed with
the Chair saying that due to several commitments he will be unable to continue
holding his position as chairman and that another chair will be replacing him.

The SDC was opened by the new European Commission
representative. An update was provided on the next Capacity Building Project in
which GRTU, being Malta one of the new Member States, will also be
participating. This project builds on a previous project called CABEO which
also focused on Capacity Building in Social Dialogue for employers
organisations. GRTU looks forward to the next project that will provide
valuable knowledge and tools with which the capacity of GRTU will be enhanced.

A presentation on the European Retail Action Plan was
delivered. This action plan mainly focuses on eliminating already identified
obstacles to the Single Market in the Retail Sector.  Presented also was the Youth Employment
Package which provides Member States with a number of solutions and initiatives
to alleviate the problem of youth employment, which in some Member States
stands very high. The Commission stated that nearly one in four young people on
the labour market cannot find a job, more than 30% of unemployed young people
were long-term unemployed and the EU youth unemployment rate was more than
twice as high as the general unemployment rate. Among the initiatives of the
Employment Package to tackle these problems are: Youth Guarantee scheme,
Increase the supply of high-quality traineeships and apprenticeships, Labour
mobility and Reforms in labour market regulation.

Finally an update was provided on the European Skills
Council for Commerce where it was stated that a small group of Member States
have already subscribed to this initiative and more concrete interest is
expected shortly. GRTU is currently in discussions on the setting up of a
national skills council for commerce. Meanwhile at EU level the website has
been launched.

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