PROVIDING WELFARE THROUGH SOCIAL DIALOGUE – a renewed role for social partners?

During 2013 the European Social Observatory (OSE) and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) lead a research project that aims at analysing the emergence of “contract welfare” in eight EU Member States: Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the UK. MUBE official Mr Stefan Attard Biancardi represented the Confederation of Malta Trade Unions – CMTU during the final Conference held in Brussels recently.

The project concentrates on Voluntary Occupational Welfare (VOW). It aims at evaluating the current state of play and at gaining a view of the challenges ahead.

VOW is provided by social partners and received by employees as a result of their employment. The project mainly concentrated on three core policies: Health Care, Reconciliation of Work/Life balance, and Training/Pensions. Partnership with 8 research institutes has allowed for the compilation of data over a period of 1year.

Project Objectives:-

  1. To monitor Voluntary Occupational Welfare (VOW).
  2. To analyse interaction between VOW, statutory welfare state & industrial relations systems.
  3. To inform social partners


VOW is a relatively new topic therefore data and information is very limited.  The project allowed for the formal commencement of:

  • Literature reviews
  • 8 country reports which gave an initial feel of the current scenario on the topic.

During the final conference the research teams presented the core findings and policy implications of the research, which aimed to ascertain whether and how supplementary welfare benefits are increasingly provided through collective bargaining, or unilaterally by employers. Lead academics, (EU and national) stakeholders and policymakers provided feedback and participated in the discussions.

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