Social dialogue is democracy in the workplace. So, is democracy ‘red tape’?

Today (14 October 2014) the High Level Group on Administrative Burdens, led by Edmund Stoiber, released its report on advising the Commission on how to reduce pursue what it calls ‘smart regulation’ and a reduction of administrative burdens.

Social dialogue is democracy in the workplace. So, is democracy ‘red tape’?

A dissenting opinion from four members of the High Level Group with a background in advocacy for workers, for public health, for the environment and for consumers shows however that the Group is not in total agreement. Far from it.

Within the recommendations from the final report can be found: cutting red tape both at European and national level, putting in place targets for administrative‑burden savings, creating an independent body of experts to review impact assessments on the administrative costs of Commission legislative proposals, concentrating on the big issues which need to be addresses at EU level and helping SME’s, and more rapid and better information on European legislation.

What is considered as an administrative burden though? Food labelling, how to use medicines, labelling for the environment and compulsory disclosure of what costs could be induced in using financial services are considered in the burdensome category according to 4 of the Group’s 15 members.

So which category do workers’ rights fall into? Is social dialogue burdensome according to the Stoiber Report? According to the dissenting opinion, “to inform workers of their rights are all “administrative burdens” within the meaning of the task given to the group”.

Since when did informing workers become an administrative burden? To provide information to workers must not be considered to be red-tape. Informing workers reduces conflict at the workplace and contributes to the better implementation of reforms. This means informing workers can indeed save time. Where is the burden?

Social dialogue should be considered as democracy in the workplace. Democratic processes can take time and can delay policy-making, but does this mean democracy is considered as red tape? Of course it is not and should not be. In this light, the Stoiber report is highly concerning for worker’s rights in Europe.

Far from wanting to see information and consultation stripped back in the EU, CESI calls for it to be extended to those areas in which workers are excluded from the Information and Consultation Directive. For CESI, all workers count. Public sector workers should also be granted these rights.