Social dialogue

Decent work

According to The Global Deal Partnership, founded by the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO), and for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), social dialogue is the way to create jobs and to improve business performance. Social dialogue is the fourth pillar in the ILO’s Decent Work concept, which further includes respect for fundamental labour standards, the promotion of job creation, and social prote


In countries where Mondiaal FNV operates, 65 to 90 percent of the work is carried out in the informal sector, where many women and migrants work. It is not easy to organise these workers and to persuade them to take part in social dialogue.

In countries where trade union rights are under pressure – for example, in fragile states and undemocratic countries – it is necessary to operate with caution, because anyone working for trade unions is often at risk.

Furthermore, governments and employers' organisations are also needed in order for social dialogue to be effective. However, these bodies do not always there, or they are not prepared to consult or negotiate with organised employees.

A just transition

An additional challenge is that climate change and its consequences are increasingly on the agenda. For a constructive dialogue, this sometimes requires the presence of other partners, such as environmental organisations, in order to achieve a just transition, a switch to sustainable energy, and production with respect for the rights of workers.

International social dialogue

Cross-border economies lead to more and more cross-border dialogues. The trade union movement is involved in this. For example, trade union umbrella organisations conclude Global Framework Agreements with multinationals, and Mondiaal FNV supports regional trade union networks in the East African Community (EAC) and in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

Social dialogue in times of crisis

During the corona crisis, government policies and support programmes in some countries were discussed with the social partners. This led to better agreements regarding the workers’ health and their wages. The ILO refers to the building of trust through social dialogue as the ‘key to making policies effective’.

Our goal

We want to help create a successful and effective social dialogue that contributes to inclusive and sustainable economies, and includes decent work and a dignified life for everyone.

How do we operate?

We do this in five ways:

  • Putting pressure on governments. We ask them to create consultation structures at the local, regional, and national level. Several parties may be involved, but it might also be the government as an employer. Governments must protect the rights of trade unions and workers through legislation and supervision, and involve trade unions in policy.
  • Having a say in regional consultative bodies. Such bodies, like the East African Community, increasingly determine the socio-economic course. It is therefore important that trade unions be at the table. Because this international lobbying and consultation work is relatively new, Mondiaal FNV, together with the Dutch Employers' Cooperation Programme (DECP), supports workers' and employers' organisations in order to help them function properly within such structures.
  • Encouraging companies and employers' organisations to engage in dialogue and negotiations. This applies not only to individual companies but also to industry and at national levels. We stress that special attention must be paid to the interests of women and other marginalised groups. In addition, we hold employers accountable for their role in climate change. They can address this by creating ‘green’ jobs and retraining workers.
  • Making unions stronger and more inclusive. In many countries, governments and employers comprise the overriding party. To be able to compete, trade unions need to increase their degree of organisation, the mobilisation of members, and have a strong internal organisation. We also help our partners to become more inclusive so that they can submit well-founded, representative proposals. We assist our partners in consultations and negotiations by providing tools that facilitate smart lobbying and campaigning.
  • Involving society. In a national debate, trade unions often represent a relatively small proportion of workers. Alliances and partnerships are therefore crucial, especially when it comes to broad topics such as climate change and combatting violence against women. We help unions by providing information, increasing members’ expertise, and configuring facts into a story that appeals to broad groups.

In which countries and regions do we operate?

We are active in South Asia, the MENA region (the Middle East and North Africa), Sub-Saharan Africa,* East Africa,* Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda, and Myanmar. We are phasing out our programme in Indonesia and Ghana.

* We use ‘Sub-Saharan Africa’ and ‘East Africa’ for a regional project or programme in which different countries are involved.

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