The Baltic Sea Labour Forum was created at the final Baltic Sea Labour Network Conference. The creation of this permanent tripartite forum of social dialogue in the Baltic Sea Region ensured sustainability of the project by widening its participation. The forum commenced its work in January 2012 during the German Presidency ofthe Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS).
The final conference of the Baltic Sea Labour Network was opened by Dr. Werner Hoyer, State Minister, Federal Foreign Office, Germany in a video message. It was organised on 15-16 November 2011 in Hamburg where 240 participants agreed on a conference resolution and 13 central recommendations for developing strong labour markets in the Baltic Sea Region. The base for the successful development of the project is the common understanding that social dialogue and tripartite structures are crucial elements of sustainable economic growthand social development. The social partners have a shared interest in well-functioning and fair labour markets as a backbone of a strong and competitive region.
The one year project ForumSDBSR was supporting the BSLF from November 2011 till February 2013 in order to
- facilitate the transition from the BSLN to the Baltic Sea Labour Forum and build up the BSLF-secretariat at the premises of the CBSS – Secretariat in Stockholm, for an initial period
- the second round table of the Baltic Sea Labour Forum was organised in autumn 2012
- develop cooperative structures for the employers’ associations in the Baltic Sea Region.
Within the framework of the Baltic Sea Labour Network the initial structures for the cooperation of social partners in the region were created so that in November 2011 the BSLF was established. At the same time it turned out that a variety of structures for and opinions on Social Dialogue exist at different levels in the individual countries and that the Social Dialogue in the region needs to be further strengthened. This is particularly true in view of the fact that the trade union associations in the Baltic Sea Region formed the BASTUN network but that no comparable structures exist among the employers’ associations. Therefore the project ForumSDBSR brought together representatives of Employers Associations in the Baltic Sea Region to discuss possible cooperative structures.
A “round table” of the employers associations in the Baltic Sea Region was organised in on 30 October 2012 in Riga.
During the year 2012 the meetings of the BSLF`s committees and the Annual Round table were organised within this project in order to facilitate the transition from the BSLN to the Baltic Sea Labour Forum and. All activities are financed within the Budget Heading – Industrial Relations and Social Dialogue of the EUROPEAN COMMISSION, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (15/11/2011 to 14/01/2013).
The project was managed by the BWH (Education and Training Service for Hamburg Businesses), which was also a partner in the BSLN – project. The BWH is an educational establishment of enterprises as well as of employer’s organizations and associations inHamburg,Germany. It is working in the range of social and socio-political questions. The educational offerings of the institute are addressed to important multipliers, such as enterprises, employers organizations, training supervisors, human resource employees and teachers. The BWH is working in the field of qualification and personnel development and is representing the employers interests in working Committees and working groups inHamburg. Additionally the BWH is also involved in projects on national level as well as on international level.
The project “Cross Border Information Management in the Baltic Sea Region (CBIM–BSR)” is aiming at the development of a first draft concept for a competence and information centre network in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) in order to support the sustainable economic growth and social development in the BSR. A pre – analysis on the involvement of North-West Russia (especially St. Petersburg) will be integrated in this draft concept. The action shall support the work of the Baltic Sea Labour Forum (BSLF) and its working group on mobility of labour. The CBIM–BSR project will also cooperate with the Turku process, a Horizontal Action of the EUSBSR.
The CBIM–BSR project is partly financed by CBSS Project Support Facility (July 2013 – July 2014).
The seed money project BSLFmobINIT aims at the development of a work and project plan for a new BSLF Flagship initiative, addressing mobility of labour in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR).
The Flagship Initiative idea has been developed within the Baltic Sea Labour Forum (BSLF) and is therefore directly linked to it. The BSLF consist 28 organisations- representing trade unions and employers associations as well as the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Secretariat (BSPC) and the Council of the Baltic Sea States Secretariat (CBSS). It was established in November 2011 and wants to promote well-functioning labour markets in the BSR in order to contribute to the attractiveness of the region for living and working and to support the economic growth in the BSR.
The BSLF “working group on cross border mobility” developed an “Action plan on cross border mobility in the BSR” which highlighted the need for cooperation: The mobility of labour plays an important role in increasing prosperity and welfare and brings considerable added value for workers, companies and society, through better matching of skills supply and demand, better functioning of the single market and more prosperity. At the same time labour mobility causes challenges, too, which need to be examined further.
Taking up the recommendations of the action plan, the seed money project is focusing on three working areas which are all relevant for the flagship.
1. Cross boarder labour market information for employees and companies:
Due to the different national systems in the BSR, employees and companies are challenged by legal distinctions especially referring to national tax law, immigration law, social security, labour law, the role of social partners, collective agreements. In many cases there is a lack of systematical information for employees and enterprises concerning the legal distinctions and the differences in governmental practice. At the same time there are very good examples how migrant workers and companies can be informed well like in the information service “hello norden”, the “Region Sønderjylland – Schleswig Regionskontor” and others. With this initiative, BSLF aims to convey a better provision of information, advice and support to migrant workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities. The provision of information for migrant workers and employers must be facilitated and easy to access and understand e.g. through one-stop-shops or welcome centers where workers and companies can get all the information they need concerning their rights and responsibilities.
2. Working conditions and the prevention of undeclared work:
Undeclared work (also known as “grey economy”, “shadow economy”) is a complex phenomenon resulting from an interaction of multiple causes and is a worrying practice for all: employers, workers and the states. It creates unfair competition for businesses in labour-intensive sectors. It places workers in insecure working conditions and undermines the financing of social protection and tax systems. Undeclared work can only effectively be combated if actors at all levels are strongly committed to it. Within this initiative, the social partners shall investigate the existence and extent of undeclared work, as well as the prerequisites for fair working and competitive conditions, in order to develop recommendations and action guidelines addressed to the national governments.
3. Vocational mobility, occupational orientation and school-business cooperation: Hamburg, Germany will take over the lead here, involving most probably Denmark and Latvia but also other BSR countries.
In the Baltic Sea Region the Nordic countries and Germany have had the advantage of receiving capable work force from abroad while Russia, Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have lost it. That is partly negative for the latter countries, but it has positive aspects as well. Workers can return with new skills and while working abroad they often send money to their families, which stimulates the economy. Especially regions with a high (youth) unemployment rate or with a high demand of workforce can benefit from “cross border occupations” or exchange programs. Also cross border vocational trainings could support the positive effects of mobility. Within the Flagship initiative, these trainings could be offered to young people from Denmark and Germany during the construction of the Fehmarnbelt link. Within the BSLF mobility Flagship project, an exchange about national practices in occupational orientation should be initiated (in order to make educational opportunities in the BSR more transparent for teachers etc.) and the national practices of occupational orientation should be further developed.
The seed money project partners are directly or indirectly involved in the BSLF and responsible for the three different work packages:
- BWH e.V. – Education and Training Service for Hamburg Businesses (Lead partner; Vocational mobility, occupational orientation and school-business cooperation)
- Cooperation Centre Hamburg – Kooperationsstelle Hamburg IFE GmbH (Flagship consortium/partnership)
- Region Sønderjylland – Schleswig Regionskontor & Infocenter (Cross boarder labour market information for employees and companies)
- TJS Study Centre – The Educational Federation for Unions for Professional Employees in Finland (Undeclared work)
The project runs from 14 December 2014 until December 2015 and is partly financed by the EUSBSR Seed Money Facility.