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Indispensable for improving work, working conditions and income


The consultation between trade unions, employers and governments on socio-economic issues is called social dialogue. According to CNV Internationaal, social dialogue is indispensable in the workplace. 

Social dialogue includes all forms of negotiation (such as collective bargaining). But consultations and the exchange of information on socio-economic topics are also forms of social dialogue.

Bipartite and tripartite

The people involved in social dialogue are usually government representatives, trade unions, and employer organisations. 

When all three sit down and have a conversation, we call this tripartite consultation. 

When only the social partners (i.e., the employers and trade unions) sit down together, we call this bipartite consultation.

Video the value of social dialogue

Conditions for a successful social dialogue

Strong trade unions (and employer organisations),

  • Access to relevant information and political support
  • Respect for core labour standards,
  • Freedom of association
  • Freedom to negotiate decent working conditions.


What we do: A dual purpose

 CNV Internationaal promotes social dialogue for several reasons. 

Firstly, it is a goal in itself to strengthen cohesion within a company, the sector, and society in general. 

Further, social dialogue is a sustainable instrument to improve the quality of work, working conditions, and income through collective agreements at national, sector, and company levels. 

Social dialogue allows us to facilitate joint outcomes between workers and employers in a peaceful, and thus sustainable, way. 

This requires strong partners on both the employers' and the employees' sides, which is why we invest in joint training programmes.

Dialogue based on respect prevents labour unrest, which in turn promotes the investment climate and sustainable economic and social development.


Video: Social dialogue leads to sustainable multicompany collective agreements

CNV Internationaal contributes to creating an effective social dialogue process. In this process, the interlocutors make agreements that are then put into writing in multi-company collective agreements. 

A win-win situation for all involved!

How we work

CNV Internationaal promotes inclusive social dialogue both in the Netherlands and abroad. Together with our union partners, we initiate social dialogue with governments, politicians, and companies. We train our partner unions on lobbying techniques and strategies. This put them in a more powerful position when negotiating.

The impact of systemic social dialogue

We work with our union partners to get social dialogue systemically embedded into policy, both at company and a national levels.

Here are a few examples of what our partner unions have accomplished recently:

• In Indonesia, CNV, Dutch employer organisation DECP, employer organisation APINDO from Indonesia, and KSBSI union held a national seminar on social dialogue. This was the final event of a 3-year cooperative programme that equipped 30 trainers from various provinces to educate managers and unions on how to do social dialogue. Together we published ‘Understanding and Building Effective Social Dialogue’.

• In Mali, UNTM and CSTM contributed to the presidential establishment and implementation of the National Council for Social Dialogue.

• In Niger, CNT successfully lobbied to establish interdepartmental commissions for social dialogue in every ministry department.



Freedom of association

For CNV International, freedom of choice is an important condition for social dialogue. In consultations and in delegations. 

CNV Internationaal wants workers to be free to join an independent trade union of their choice and wants trade unions of different sorts to be involved in consultations at different levels. 

The importance of consultation structures

On a global level, trade unions still have a long way to go to be heard when it comes to important socio-economic issues (such as combating poverty). In order to change this, CNV Internationaal emphasises the importance of consultative structures in strategic places. 

CNV Internationaal does this by participating as often as possible in bi- and tripartite consultations where international issues are discussed. For example, the tripartite consultations of the International Labour Organisation ILO (a UN agency) and the annual conference of the ILO.

Social Dialogue in 5 questions

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