skills

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Health and Safety

Employees and working conditions: a challenge on a European scale

According to EUROSTAT statistics, each year 5,720 people die in the European Union following work-related accidents. The International Labour Organisation indicates that 159,500 workers succumb to occupational illness every year in EU countries. These figures indicate that a person dies every three and a half minutes in the EU for reasons linked to their professional activities, and that a third of these deaths can be attributed to exposure to dangerous substances. In its analysis of changing working conditions between 1990 and 2005, the European Foundation for the improvement of living and working conditions records the damaging impact on the health and safety of workers of the intensification of workloads, exposure to risks and non-standard working hours.

The decline in the economic situation and the restructuring carried out in both public and private sectors of the Union may lead one to fear a deterioration of the situation having regard to health and safety in the workplace, despite the policies encouraged by the Community. In fact, in this respect, for 50 years now the Community has sought to improve the situation of workers and strengthen their protection. The quality of labour relations and dialogue in the area of health and safety in the workplace is an essential tool in the prevention of risks and informing workers.

Who can act?

In this area, the European Trade Union movement – both the TUC and European trade union federations and their affiliate organisations, play an important role in defending exposed workers, through negotiation. This link between political encouragement and social dialogue has an impact on these issues of well being in the workplace and public health.

These issues are a legitimate field of interest for European works councils (EWC), which play an important role in disseminating European actions. EWC members may look at issues such as : How is the stress agreement implemented in our company ? How does REACH apply in our company? What parameters are relevant in monitoring the evolution of workplace accidents or occupational illness on a trans-national level?

What kind of support we are able to offer you?
Arduous nature of work

Analysis of the impact on health and on the worker’s career. Taking it into account when deciding on access to retirement

Safety, workplace accidents

Analysis of causes and recommendations on prevention ways

Occupational illness

Analysis of its causes and how to prevent it.

Stress, psycho-social risks

Diagnosis of specific sources in the company; their consequences; drawing up a prevention plan

Exposure to dangerous products

Diagnosis of products; methods for controlling exposure during the career; control of the implementation of REACH

The consequences of restructuring on the health and safety of workers

What medical oversight is there of the consequences of working conditions for a laid off employee? What potential effects on remaining employees? How can these aspects be integrated into labour discussions relating to restructuring?

Managerial diagnoses

The effects of management practices on working conditions, Lean damage

 To know more, please contact our consultant specialized on this issue : Michel Agostini

New skills for New jobs

Some conclusions of the study “For a trade union version of the New Skills for New Jobs initiative” realised in 2010 by Groupe Alpha for ETUC (with the support of the European Commission) underline the major rule  the Sector Councils would play in the coming years :

  • Europe’s ability to play an active role in the new competitive and environmental configuration of the global economy is dependent on one imperative : creating a dynamic balance between a resolute overall upskilling and the promotion of excellence, in the context of an inclusive labour market pushing back job precariousness, the cause of waste and lack of motivation.
  • The Sector Councils on Employment and Skills can become useful for the interaction of social dialogue and public policies. In a field where responsibility is exercised predominantly on a national level, they should have the mission to network national and regional players, with a view to forging a community sharing best practices and experiences.
  • Leadership of the Councils must be put in the hands of the social partners, thereby making the Councils an instrument complementing the Sector Social Dialogue Committees. The opening up the Councils to other players, in particular training organisations, is to be conceived on the basis of this leadership. The Councils could drive and coordinate forward-looking work with an operational focus, geared directly to the field experience of the actors and combining qualitative and quantitative methods. Studies targeting occupations subject to pressure and deep-going transformation would be of great use, contributing to relevant training programmes and activities.

All these sector councils are set up further to the European Commission initiative in the framework of the 2020 strategy.

To know more, read this document: ETUI Policy Brief J.Fayolle

Consultingeuropa is able to provide assistance support to european social partner  in setting up sector councils.
To know more, please contact our consultant specialized on this issue :  Jean-Jacques Paris

Corporate Social Responsability

Putting sustainable development tools and the Corporate Social Responsibility of companies (CSR) at the service of workers and their representatives

Sustainable development requires people to think about their capacity to preserve, in the long term, the human and ecological resources of the planet. The Corporate Social Responsibility of companies is companies’ contribution to sustainable development. Having regard to the power companies exert on society, they have a responsibility to their future and must report on how they understand collective interest. The CSR and the tools it generates (strategy and management of companies, extra-financial communication, international framework agreements…) are perceived by the EU not only as a tool for regulating the economic and financial system but also as a means of ensuring the competitiveness of European companies[1].

Groupe Alpha has made several contributions to EU policy on CSR: one on the communication of extra-financial information, and one on the Act for the European single market which was adopted by the European Commission on 13 April 2011.

Understanding the interactions between social, environmental and economic concerns

The obligation for companies to take into account new environmental concerns (climate change, biodiversity,…), social concerns (AIDS, job security….), corporate governance, transparency….impacts on the business models of companies and their strategy. The heterogeneity of social relations in EU countries cannot disguise the fact that throughout Europe, CSR requirements are increasing, and the issues are more or less the same.

Groupe Alpha seeks to help workers and their representatives to make this a subject for social dialogue at the various representative levels of the company (local, national, European, global). For example, we have studied, at the request of French union organisations, the impact of European regulation relating to climate change (“energy and climate package”) on jobs and skills in different sectors[2].

Putting CSR tools at the service of workers

Starting from the tools designed by companies to explain their CSR approach (sustainable development report, code of conduct, international framework agreements[3]), we help workers and their representatives to understand how, and to what extent, the company management takes into account the social and environmental impacts of its activities, what the companies practices are in comparison with the competition in these same areas, what are the potential financial and social consequences of the strategic decisions in the company (for example, what stand taken on the future IED directive on industrial emissions).

We work for national and international bodies creating the CSR standard (ISO 26000, European Coalition for Corporate Justice, French environment ministry, United Nations Cancun climate change conference, EU enterprise directorate…); we monitor trends in matters of CSR (the taking into account by financial analysts of social and environmental criteria to evaluate the financial performance of the company, the lobbying of employer federations) and try to give employees and their representatives the tools to draw up their own doctrine and strategy in this field on an international level and at the level of European works councils.

To know more, please contact our consultant specialized on this issue : Natacha Seguin

 


[1] Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committe and the Committee of the Regions: A renewed EU strategy 2011-2014 for Corporate Social Responsibility

[2] Joint study by Groupe Alpha and Syndex :  “GPEC, low carbon industrial and growth policy: a cross sector approach”, June 2010

[3] Read our other sheet International framework agreements