The main topics discussed during the second day of the General Assembly of the Europe and Asia section of the International Organization of Employers were labour market issues and opportunities for intensifying cooperation between members and the IOE.
On the one hand unemployment in Europe, on the other hand – the aging of societies were the issues most often touched upon at the General Assembly, both in plenary discussions and unofficial talks.
According to Vicepresident of Employers of Poland Tomasz Misiak, increased employee mobility, which compensates for labour market shortages, including those resulting from the demographic situation, could be an appropriate solution. There is no reason to fear immigrants – it is increasingly common for them to build the economies of countries where they work. – In popular opinion, as well as among politicians, immigration is seen as a negative phenomenon. However, fear of immigrants stems mainly form a lack of knowledge – said Tomasz Misiak. – We are faced with a great challenge – we have to figure out where to find new employees, as Europe cannot cope with the needs of its labour market alone. We have to turn towards Asia, maybe Ukraine – stated the Vicepresident of Employers of Poland.
In the opinion of Michał Kuszyk, advisor to the President of Employers of Poland, who suggested a holistic approach to economy, the biggest problems are caused by excessive regulations restricting social dialog and the freedom of establishing good relations between employers and employees.
Participants drew particular attention to the issue of very high unemployment rates among young people in many European countries. There was a consensus that the causes of this include a.o. increasing non-wage job costs, collective bargaining agreements and taxation, which does not encourage citizens to start economic activities. Solutions could involve a broader scope of social dialog between employers and employees or regulating social dialog in accordance with the principle of parity. Improved legislation will cause companies to no longer be tempted by the gray market and enable employers to implement flexible employment. Another important issue raised was the predictability of regulations. Attention was also drawn to competitiveness and the use of resources from the European Social Fund. Participants remarked that companies who have access to credits, as well as private equity funds, function better and have more employees.
Germany, Austria and Scandinavian countries were mentioned as examples of states effectively tackling unemployment. However, European Regional Vicepresident of the IOE Renate Hornung-Draus stressed that it would be very hard to elaborate one set of recommendations applicable to every country.
The discussion on cooperation between national organizations and the IOE secretariat was also interesting. Guests underlined the strong position of IOE as a representative of business on the international arena. They suggested a closer cooperation with the IOE secretariat in order to focus on the most important issues and achieve the broadest possible consensus. The idea of intensifying face-to-face meetings in working groups, which would facilitate exchanging experiences and know-how, was mentioned. – It is true that the international activity of IOE has increased, but now we are only talk about Europe – we should also address wider issues – said Vicepresident of Employers of Poland Janusz Pietkiewicz.
One of the panels was devoted to the right to strike action and the speakers presented the legislation in this regard in their countries.
The final part of the Assembly involved a.o. a briefing on the upcoming Turkish presidency in B20.
The last presentation at this years' Europe and Central Asia section meeting was concerned with CSR. Speakers underlined the increased importance of CSR standards in light of the new EU directive imposing the obligation to report activities in the field of corporate social responsibility on the biggest companies.
The conference was summarized by Renate Hornung-Draus who thanked Employers of Poland for organizing the meeting and announced that the next General Assembly will be hosted by Croatia and held on September 10-11th 2015, most likely in Dubrovnik.
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