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Participants and challenges

The most favoured topics of social dialogue in the furniture sector in recent years have been EU enlargement and extending social dialogue in the new Member States, employment and vocational training, and health and safety issues. This social dialogue brings together the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW) on the workers’ side, and the European Furniture Manufacturers Federation (UEA) as well as the European Furniture Industries Confederation (EFIC) on the employers’ side.

The European social partners adopted their rules of procedure in 2001, defining the aims of social dialogue as follows: “to give opinions to the Commission on social policy initiatives and on trends in European policy which have an economic or social impact on the Furniture sector” and “to promote and develop social dialogue in the Furniture sector on a consensual basis”.

Thereafter, two joint opinions were adopted (in 2002 and 2004) on EU enlargement and social dialogue in the new Member States, followed by four declarations (in 2006 and 2007) on extending the social dialogue (Romania and Bulgaria), on training and young workers in the sector, on reducing accidents at work, and on strengthening social dialogue in Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey and Croatia.

The social partners also held a European conference on 25 February 2005 on “The future of the furniture industry in an enlarged Europe”, at which the sector’s most favoured topics once again came to the fore: market development, the role of collective bargaining, jobs and training.

The 2007 work programme for the sector likewise emphasises vocational training, competitiveness, health and safety issues and follow-up to work done in the new Member States. It is noticeable that two topics seem to be gaining ground: the need to attract young workers into the sector, and the need to help SMEs cope with the challenges of globalisation (see previous section).

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