In times of growing socio-economic inequalities exacerbated by the recent financial and economic crisis in many Council of Europe member States, it is important to identify and analyse the underlying forces behind such developments.
In many European countries trade unions have traditionally played an important part in a tripartied dialogue with government authorities and employers on ways and means of securing social cohesion and a balanced labour market based on collective bargaining. Nevertheless, the decline in trade union membership in most countries in recent years has weakened their position in social dialogue and their impact on the outcome of negotiations. The Parliamentary Assembly already expressed its concern about such trends in Resolution 2033 (2015) on "Protection of the right to bargain collectively, including the right to strike".
In the light of all this the Assembly should prepare a report on developments in the functioning of trade unions in Europe, to examine whether there may be a correlation between their decline and growing inequality. In such a report current developments in trade unionism should be submitted to a critical examination. Furthermore it should be discussed whether initiatives could be taken to help social partners in member States to adapt to new realities, and develop a roadmap to strengthen trade unions or other protective structures for vulnerable groups on the labour market and thus contribute to cohesion in society in general.