Promoting dialogue and negotiation in the labour market

The consortium, which consists of the Danish Trade Union Development Agency (Ulandssekretariatet) and the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI), supports the forces of democracy through local partners in the trade union movement and in employers' organisations.

The consortium’s partners – both together and individually – help develop unions’ and employers’ abilities to engage in dialogue and negotiation. They also work to improve the protection of workers’ rights, as well as promote decent jobs and a productive and sustainable labour market.

With the trade unions and employers, the consortium attempts to promote dialogue and negotiation in the labour market. This is done both at the company and the national level, together with governments and public authorities, and can contribute to the development and stability of the targeted countries. The consortium is present in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan and in regional efforts in the MENA region.

The consortium’s work in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA region)

The Danish Trade Union Development Agency (Ulandssekretariatet) and the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI) collaborate with a number of trade unions and employers’ organizations to improve their institutional and professional capacities. They thereby become strong and credible negotiating partners that can contribute to democratisation and economic development.

The consortium jointly supports more capacity in collective bargaining, social dialogue, conflict resolution in the workplace, the responsible operation of business and studies of the labour market that can be the basis of information and lobbying work.

The initiative supports a number of cross-border networks in the region. This includes a media network in collaboration with the Arab trade union association, which reports from across the region on labour rights violations, and a professional network for women, where trade union representatives from a number of Arab countries and Denmark share experiences on the professional and structural issues that women face in the labour market.

The consortium is collaborating with the Danish Refugee Council in Jordan on a pilot initiative to find out how more refugees and migrants can enter the labour market.

The following groups benefit from the consortium’s programme:

  • Workers and union representatives in the private and public sectors in partner countries
  • Companies and the private sector in partner countries
  • Managers in trade unions and employers’ organizations
  • Workers in the informal economy
  • Young people and women through the programme’s cross-cutting focus

The consortium’s objectives for the next five years

Towards 2022, the consortium seeks to improve economic opportunities in the MENA region. In particular, it wants to strengthen democracy, labour market institutions, civil society and business.

The consortium generally wants to strengthen dialogue and negotiations in the labour market, and thereby increase the number of collective agreements, reduce the number of conflicts, stabilise the labour market and improve working conditions in selected sectors.

The consortium wants to strengthen workers and employers, and their dialogue with governments, so that they together can improve labour laws, working conditions and rights, as well as economic opportunities – in particular for young people and women.

Examples of results from the cooperation in the region

ATUC (The Arab Trade Union Confederation), which is the regional partner of the Danish Trade Union Development Agency, has recently introduced training in trade union work and labour market conditions in the form of e-learning. A digital learning space has been set up on the website of the regional trade union movement. An e-classroom is set up as a video conference and shows a teacher, located somewhere in the region, often in the ATUC office in Jordan – and even in the teacher’s own home. One of the benefits is that women are often not allowed to travel for religious and cultural reasons. By using e-learning, more women can participate in the courses. In addition, e-learning appeals to young people – and more and more are being recruited through Facebook and other social media. This leads to a more diverse student body  –  both geographically, and in terms of gender and age – in particular, more women and young people are joining the courses.

In Morocco, DI has helped its partner CGEM set up the “l’Académie Sociale”. The academy offers continuing education courses for HR staff, and the first staff graduated in 2019. With thorough courses in subjects like conflict management, working environment and labour law, the academy helps Moroccan companies to optimize cooperation with their employees for the benefit of both workers and employers.

The consortium collaborates with the Danish Refugee Council in Jordan in getting more refugees into the labour market. This is done, for example, by systematically mapping out qualifications and requirements for the labour force, strengthening their skills so they can enter the labour market and disseminating a database that refers refugees to relevant support, education opportunities and job offers.

The consortium’s partners in Tunisia, the main organisation UGTT and the employers’ organization UTICA, were the prime movers in the so-called national dialogue quartet which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015. A human rights organisation and the bar association were also included in the quartet, and the award is a recognition of the successful dialogue that took place in Tunisia after the Arab Spring of 2011 and which ensured a peaceful transition to democracy in the country.

In July 2017, the Tunisian parliament passed a law which set up the National Council for Social Dialogue. The council, inaugurated in November 2018, is tripartite, which means it is composed of representatives from the trade union movement in UGTT, the employers’ association UTICA and the government. Its task is to build up a constructive dialogue between the three parties about the labour market and other factors that influence the country’s economic growth and development. This is fully in line with the consortium’s efforts in Tunisia for both employees and employers.

Courses for union representatives and training for union leaders have helped to improve the conditions for workers through several collective agreements and specific wage increases, including, for example, in the electricity sector in Jordan.

Members of the consortium

The Danish Trade Union Development Agency (Ulandssekretariatet)(lead) is the development and assistance organisation of the Danish trade union movement. The objective of the Danish Trade Union Development Agency is to promote the sustainable and democratic development of labour markets in developing countries. This is done in collaboration with the trade union movement as well as employers’ organisations and government institutions in Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.

The Confederation of Danish Industry (DI) (partner) has 11,000 members consisting of private companies in industry, trade and services. DI’s goal is to promote good framework conditions for the Danish business sector. The employer and business organisation has more than twenty years of experience in providing support and consulting in organisational development, capacity building, strategy development and public affairs in developing countries.

The Danish Refugee Council (subcontractor) works in more than 30 countries. The Danish Refugee Council has a leading role in Jordan in creating programmes for better living conditions. It works closely with UNHCR in refugee camps and in local communities with many refugees in, for example, Iraq and Turkey.