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Outcomes

So far, social dialogue in the woodworking sector has developed mainly thanks to joint opinions on sustainable forestry, joint tools and exchanges of information on more specifically “social” issues (vocational training, health and safety, etc.), and its code of conduct on working conditions.

Both the woodworking and furniture sectors belong to the category of “sectors managing change in a context of globalisation”, according to the typology of the European Social Observatory. Although at the outset this sector was little affected by European legislation, the impact of international competition has been severe.

The issue of climate change, a more recent development now being tackled head-on by the EU, is of considerable concern. Whereas the joint texts adopted in the woodworking sector relate mainly to the topics of sustainable development and combating global warming (i.e. topics which strictly speaking are not social ones), it is noticeable that a number of social issues are beginning to crop up in talks at the SSDC and in its work programme, especially those of vocational training (in particular via the Valiwood and E-Wood projects funded under the EU’s Leonardo programme: these are internet-based tools for identifying personal skills for workers in this sector) and health and safety (with the creation of working groups).

These topics are not subjects of collective bargaining as such; it is more a matter of designing joint tools and exchanging information. Thus the issue of workers' health and safety, which was a source of discord between the social partners in the early 1990s (with respect to wood dust), is still on the table but not with a view to joint opinions.

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