The Wales TUC has today backed the Welsh Government’s Social Partnership and Public Procurement Bill as a route to promoting fair work and tackling inequality across the country.
The new Bill formalises the Welsh Government’s social partnership approach which brings together employers, government and trade unions to work on key policy challenges.
Giving evidence on the Bill at the Senedd’s Equality and Social Justice Committee this afternoon (Monday), Wales TUC’s Nisreen Mansour highlighted the concrete differences the Welsh social partnership working has already made to workers in Wales. Examples included regulating employers to undertake coronavirus risk assessments, an agreement on the use of non-guaranteed contracts in the devolved public sector and financial support for freelance workers during the pandemic.
Ms Mansour emphasised the importance of the Bill saying:
“Social partnership working creates better public services. It’s the best way to approach change – by speaking to workers and employers at the formative stage of any policy change or plans and giving them a fair say over what affects them. We strongly welcome this Bill and look forward to working in partnership to implement it.”
The Bill has strong backing from workers in Wales themselves with supporters outnumbering opponents by a factor of 5 to 1. The leading polling firm YouGov found that 44% of Welsh workers said they backed the social partnership method with just 8% opposing it.
Social partnership working is common across Europe – including in Scandinavia, Germany and Austria. It serves as a key part of the European Union’s policy development approach and has been endorsed by a wide range of international body including the UN’s International Labour Organisation which has said that social partnership “has demonstrated its potential to promote democratic governance and participation as well as economic stability and progress”.
The Social Partnership and Public Procurement Bill will establish a Social Partnership Council - consisting of an equal number of union, employer and government representatives – to advise Welsh Government on key policy issues. It also places a duty on public bodies in Wales to work with their recognised trade unions on meeting their wellbeing objectives under the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act. And it creates a Socially Responsible Public Procurement Duty to align the devolved public sector’s procurement spend to the strategic objectives such as Fair Work.