New capacity-building project kicked off for personal and household services stakeholders!
The employers and trade unions in Personal and Household Services (PHS) – EFFE, EFFAT, EFSI and UNI Europa – have sealed their commitment towards increased recognition for the PHS sector. Employing almost 5% of the entire EU workforce, the sector aims to reach a mutual recognition in terms of industrial relationships, potentially as social partners according to the definition provided by the Treaties. The European Commission defines PHS as ‘“a broad range of activities that contribute to well-being at home of families and individuals: childcare (CC), long term care (LTC) for the elderly and for persons with disabilities, cleaning, remedial classes, home repairs, gardening, ICT support, etc.’ On 4 July 2023, the project partners held the kick off meeting of their two-year EU co-financed project ‘PHSDialogue’, funded according to the call for proposals “Support for Social Dialogue”. The aim of the project is to lay the foundation for an EU sectoral social dialogue and to strengthen collective bargaining capacity at national level.
This project aims to strengthening social dialogue in line with the Commission’s Communication and in accordance with the Council Recommendation adopted by the EPSCO Council on 12 June 2023. The consortium would support a stronger collective bargaining at the national level in line with the EU’s Directive on Adequate Minimum Wages and Collective Bargaining.
The central activities of the project include intelligence gathering on trade unions, employers’ organisations, industry organisations and migrant worker organisations active in the PHS sectors. Through a mapping exercise and surveys, project partners will investigate the collective bargaining and working conditions. This will lead to the finalization of:
Two online working group meetings, two public workshops, and two plenary sessions during the 24-months project will provide trade unions and employers at the Member State level with the opportunity to discuss how the PHS sectors can ensure decent work and quality services.
The setting up of four national observatories will strengthen employers’ and unions’ ambitions to collectively bargain and set sectoral standards. In doing so, the project partners aim to feed into the European Care Strategy, contribute to the European Commission’s goal of raising collective bargaining coverage across Member States, and meet the social and employment challenges related with the undeclared work and the rise of online platforms. By pioneering a new organisational model based on inclusivity and raising the representativeness of the Sectoral Social Dialogue’s activities, the project actively contributes to the ongoing Commission’s review of the European Sectoral Social Dialogue.
The project is part of the commitment enshrined in the PHS social dialogue work programme for 2023/2024, to be followed up with another project.
“Social dialogue is the foundation of progress and empowerment for domestic workers. By fostering constructive conversations between employers and trade unions through the PHS Social Dialogue project, we can address the challenges faced by domestic workers in the European Union, ensuring their rights, fair wages, and decent working conditions. Together, we are committed to transforming the sector and improving the lives of millions of workers and families in Europe,” said Kristjan Bragason EFFAT General Secretary.
“The launch of the PHSDialogue project is a continuation of EFSI’s long-term commitment to pursue a structured and stronger social dialogue towards granting PHS workers and employers the support they deserve and bringing them out of the shadows. The project will be instrumental in helping PHS trade associations and employers’ organisations to address topical issues for the sector and to reinforce their own capacity thanks to peer learning and knowledge building. This project is a key element in the structuring and recognition of the sector both at national and European level,” said Herwig Muyldermans, EFSI’s President.
“Homecare workers are essential. Over the next two years, we will strengthen the cooperation between employers and unions to build inclusive social dialogue structures that reflect the nature of the sector. Most importantly for us, it will help workers and their unions to strengthen collective bargaining in a fragmented industrial relations landscape,” said Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa.
“Our collaboration reaches a new step with the launch of the PHSDialogue project. I am confident it will help not only to improve social rights and working conditions for PHS workers too often invisible, but also to grant a broader access for household to home care services. For EFFE, strengthening representative’s organisations of families and people employing domestic & care workers is key to build a virtuous social dialogue” said Marie Béatrice Levaux, EFFE’s President.
 European Commission Staff Working Document on exploiting the employment potential of personal and household services, SWD (2012) 95 final
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