OECD Secretary-General

Global Deal Conference: Social Dialogue for a Better Future of Work - Closing remarks


Closing remarks by Angel Gurría

OECD Secretary-General

4 February 2020 - OECD, Paris

(As prepared for delivery)



Dear Ministers, Director-General Ryder, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you all for participating in this rich and insightful conference.

Throughout the day, you have heard numerous examples from the Global Deal partners of how social dialogue can reconcile divergent interests by getting different actors together and negotiating innovative solutions. Be it through collective bargaining, company-level dialogue or tripartite concertation, social dialogue among all stakeholders is key to achieve inclusive and innovative solutions that benefit all.


Shared experiences: inspiring examples

Today’s Conference has allowed social partners to share their experiences in addressing important labour market challenges.

I am thinking, for example, of Systembolaget, the state-owned Swedish alcohol retail business that set up a system whereby the International Union of Food workers (IUF) and its unions can report on working conditions and incidents in the South African vineyards supplying the Swedish market.

We have also heard about governments proactively engaging with social partners to tackle labour market challenges. Think of the pledge made by the Spanish government in 2018 to tackle undeclared work and abuse of non-standard work contracts and, more recently, of their intention to focus on the inclusion of the most vulnerable groups. Or the case of South Africa, where in 2014, the president called upon the National Economic and Development Council to address labour market instability and low wages. As a result, businesses, trade unions and the government struck a deal to raise the minimum wage in February 2017. This resulted in a salary increase for 6.4 million workers –almost half of the country’s workforce!

Civil society organisations are also delivering on their Global Deal commitments, for example, by leveraging fair trade to push for social dialogue and decent work on the factory floors of multinational companies’ supply chains.

These are just a few examples among the many you have heard today. They all show the potential of social dialogue to go beyond the standard economic “black-and-white” thinking. In truth, many policy makers find themselves having to choose between implementing policies that foster an inclusive labour market with low inequalities, and policies that favour a dynamic labour market with high rates of job creation – which are often more precarious, non-standard jobs.

Yet today, we have seen that well-designed, coordinated, systems of collective bargaining can indeed provide opportunities to advance on both issues. This is also reflected in the new OECD Jobs Strategy and our recent OECD report “Negotiating Our Way Up”.


The OECD-Global Deal partnership: a political vision

But collective bargaining systems must be brought up to speed. Only then can they support the transition to the future of work, or support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The Global Deal partnership has a key role to play in harnessing the opportunities, and tackling the challenges, of megatrends such as digitalisation, globalisation and demographic change.

Today’s conference clearly showed that we also need to have good overall governance with policy frameworks that enable and promote social dialogue.

The OECD is delighted and ready to keep feeding this process, to keep strengthening and broadening the Global Deal. We will leverage your actions by showcasing good examples, organising peer-learning exercises, raising awareness and visibility of the Global Deal at key events and building strategic partnerships. We will also prepare a Flagship Report on the links between social partnership and the agenda for investing in skills.

I am certain that, with your help, we are going to turn the Global Deal into a state of the art tool to improve the living standards of our workers and the competitiveness and productivity of our firms.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

As we close this conference, I would like to call upon you – the Global Deal partners – to keep up your engagement in social partnerships, to continue promoting social dialogue, to keep fighting for sound industrial relations and to keep sharing your experiences with the OECD.

Remember, to achieve an inclusive, prosperous and productive future of work, everyone’s voice must count.

You can count on the OECD to continue working with the ILO and all of you to make the Global Deal a success story. Thank you.



See also:

OECD work on Inclusive Growth

OECD work on Future of Work


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