The Government has today agreed on a number of steps to strengthen social dialogue and engagement with civil society in line with the commitments in the Programme for Government.
Commenting on the decision, the Taoiseach said:
‘I believe strongly in the importance of social dialogue and of regular and open engagement with all sectors of society. Such an approach is going to be particularly important as we steer our way out of the pandemic, taking on the complex economic and social challenges which we will face in Ireland in the years ahead, rebuilding our economy and supporting communities. In the coming months I look forward to strengthening engagement with all parts of civil society, making this a core part of how Government does its business, and building on the many existing mechanisms, such as the National Economic and Social Council, the Labour Employer Economic Forum and the Brexit Stakeholders Group.”
In order to strengthen its approach to social dialogue, the Government agreed to properly map out the different social dialogue structures and processes in place across Government, and drawing on this, to develop and commit to some principles around approaches to social dialogue in its different forms. As part of this work, the Taoiseach and key Ministers will begin a series of engagements with the main social partner representative groups. This work will be coordinated by the Social Dialogue Unit the Taoiseach has established in his own Department.
Secondly, following discussions with trade union and employer representatives, the Government has agreed to strengthen the Labour Employer Economic Forum (LEEF) which has played an important role throughout the Covid-19 crisis. The LEEF deals with economic and employment issues relevant to the labour market, including issues such as statutory sick pay and the remote working strategy. The Government has agreed to build on this with a stronger role for sub-groups dealing with issues such as Housing, Pensions, Childcare and Aviation, as well as stepping-up levels of discussion generally with employers and trade unions on other relevant issues of mutual interest.
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