What is social dialogue

Social dialogue can be defined as a permanent and evolving process of consultation, negotiation or simply an exchange of information between representatives of governments, employers, and employees, on issues of common interest related to economic and social policy. It can take place at national, regional or enterprise level. It can be cross-sectoral, sectoral or a mix between them.

Why we need Social Dialogue

In a climate as complex as the present, in which production processes are more interconnected and labour relations are undergoing an unprecedented transformation, effective social dialogue plays a crucial role in the stability and progress of society.

The main purpose of social dialogue is to promote consensus and democratic involvement among the main actors in labour relations. Successful social dialogue structures and processes have the power to solve important economic and social problems, to encourage good governance, to promote social and industrial peace and stability, and to stimulate economic progress.

How we can improve the social dialogue

Strong, independent employers and employee’s organizations, with technical capacity and access to relevant information

Political will and a strong commitment of all parties to engage in social dialogue

Respect for the fundamental rights of freedom of association and negotiation.

Adequate institutional support.

Types of social dialogue


Between employees and employer’s representatives, between unions and employers. It can take the shape of collective bargaining, of co-determination or consultation on decisions. This type of dialogue may have as its purpose collective bargaining agreements, changes in company policies and (trans) sectoral agreements.


It is both institutionalized and informal, in cases where the contribution of the authorities, trade unions and employers are needed. Following these negotiations, national and international labour standards, the labour code, or other public policy laws may change.

For employees
  • Social dialogue can help improve working conditions, change policies within companies or sectors and it has leverage because it is a formal and legitimate negotiation.
  • It increases democratic participation and gives them the right to participate in the decision-making process.
  • Provides protection to employees who can express their problems, concerns, and requests without fear of discrimination.
For employers
  • When employees are listened to and consulted in finding solutions, they are more satisfied and motivated, which leads to a better performance and a greater loyalty to the employer.
  • Conflict management is improved when it is discussed on an equal footing, with transparency and honesty. Even if the result is not always the desired one, the process is perceived as more correct, and it can stop the escalation of some problems.
For Governments
  • It improves the democratic process. Social dialogue is an inclusive and democratic way of making decisions and in this way the challenges that can affect social peace can be solved.
  • It increases legitimacy. If the state takes decisions without consulting employers and unions, they can lead to blockages. If the legislative process is supported by dialogue, the adoption and implementation of measures can be made easier and more efficient for all involved.

Employers' confederations

Employers' confederations are the only associative structures of the private environment with the legitimacy acquired to be consulted by the authorities in the legislative process, as well as the legal right to negotiate collective labour agreements and to initiate legislative proposals.

Employers' confederations are autonomous organizations, without political or economic interests, set up to defend and promote the interests of its members.

Trade Unions

Trade unions are legitimate organizations set up by employees based on the right of free association, in order to promote their professional, economic and social interests, as well as to defend individual and collective rights. Along with employers, trade unions are consulted in the legislative process and have the legal right to negotiate collective bargaining agreements and initiate legislative proposals.

Social Dialogue vs. Civic Dialogue

There is an important distinction between social dialogue and civic dialogue. While social dialogue takes place between employers 'and workers' representatives, to which are added central or local authorities, the participants in the civic dialogue are both employers and trade unions and civil society representatives (NGOs) in the Economic and Social Committee (CES), to which may be added, in other formats, representatives of the Government or other public authorities. Therefore, the social partners are only the employers 'and trade unions' organizations.

Economic and Social Council (CES)

It is an advisory body of the Romanian Parliament and Government in areas related to economic, financial, and fiscal policies, labor relations, social protection, wage and equal opportunities policies, education, youth, sustainable development, liberal professions, etc. CES members include representatives of nationally representative employers, trade unions and civil society, who meet in the Specialist Committees and in the Plenary.

Tripartite National Council for Social Dialogue (CNTDS)

It is a national advisory body of the social partners, chaired by the Prime Minister comprising the presidents of the nationally representative employers 'and trade unions' confederations, government representatives, the representative of the National Bank of Romania, the president of the Economic and Social Council and other members agreed with the social partners. Among the topics addressed are establishing the minimum wage, strategies and projects in the social field, negotiating and reaching agreements and social pacts, establishing activity sectors.

Social dialogue committees within ministries and local authorities

They have an advisory role and include representatives of the central or local public administration, representatives of employers' organizations and nationally representative trade unions.

In Romania, the social partners and their kind of representation are regulated by the Law on Social Dialogue No. 62/2011.

Social Dialogue in EU

Concordia is part of the European social dialogue through BusinessEurope, the largest organization representing the interests of the business environment at European level and the European civic dialogue through its representative in the European Economic and Social Council (EESC).

International Social Dialogue

UN Tripartite Agency *, is the forum for international tripartite social dialogue with governments, employers, and workers' representatives in the Member States. Concordia is representing Romanian employers at IOM by joining the International Organization of Employers (IOE).

Social Dialogue

Do you wonder who the EU social partners are and what they do? Are you interested in knowing more about sectoral or cross-industry social dialogues? European social dialogue involves organisations representing the two sides of industry (employers and workers) who play a key role in addressing the challenges our societies and labour markets are facing. Social dialogue at all levels is a prerequisite for the functioning of Europe’s social market economy and crucial to promote both competitiveness and fairness.