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No fewer than 20 joint texts have been adopted between 1996 and 2010, making this sector a very “productive” one.

These texts vary in nature: joint opinions (on working conditions, on the “posted workers” and “services in the internal market” directives, recommendations (on stress at work, linked to the framework agreement reached at cross-industry level in October 2004), tools (on health and safety, and on attracting and retaining young people) and declarations (on the “working at heights” directive).

In the typology drawn up by the European Social Observatory, the building sector is classified in the category of sectors exposed to competition and interconnection within the national arena. This classification is attributed primarily where a sector is affected by the completion of the internal market, the "posting" directive and the liberalisation of services.

It should however be pointed out that the social partners in this sector had initiated a pragmatic social dialogue long before that dialogue became institutionalised. This is a reflection both of a trusting relationship between the two sides and of similar views on the role and importance of social dialogue. Moreover, the belated adoption (in 2006) of rules of procedure governing this dialogue implies that such rules were long deemed superfluous. It is also noteworthy that these rules of procedure are among the few that explicitly encourage the signing of framework agreements and the establishment of contractual relations.

This mutual trust derives from the pragmatic nature of social dialogue in the sector, which deals with problems specific to the sector and of interest to both sides (even if their motivation may differ: on the posting of workers, whereas one side wants an alignment of social security systems, the other hopes to avoid paying two sets of contributions).

The SSDC work programme for 2008-2011 focuses on:


  • employment: flexicurity, migration, cross-border mobility, combating pseudo-self-employment, demographic trends;
  • enlargement;
  • health and safety: promoting accident reduction, implementing REACH in the building sector, and following up the agreement on stress;
  • vocational training: recognition of qualifications, demographic change, energy efficiency.


ETUI and Observatoire Social Européen (2010) European Sectoral Social Dialogue Factsheets. Project coordinated by Christophe Degryse, online publication available at www.worker-participation.eu/EU-Social-Dialogue/Sectoral-ESD