The empty shell of social dialogue
A case study from Hungary
Kulcsszavak:social dialogue, politicization, unions, public health care, public education system
The European Social Model involves among other things: fundamental social rights, social protection and social dialogue. The neoliberal path chosen by Europe combined with the financial crisis led to the introduction of austerity measures that endanger key elements of that model. Europe and its Member States have common and national mechanisms to ensure distributive justice, citizens’ participation and the continuity of the European Social Model even when it is threatened by international financial conditions or the political choices of its rulers. As a part of the ETHOS Struggles for Justice – Impact of Social and EU Charters in times of crisis project, our research aims to answer two leading questions: to what extent is the national social dialogue a democratic instrument that uses horizontal and democratic processes and whether it is a powerful instrument for the preservation of the European Social Model?
Our paper reports on the actual status and functioning of social dialogue as a mechanism to produce a more effective enjoyment of labour rights between the different political and social actors in Hungary. We interviewed key actors of trade unions and confederations, lead character of an employers’ association, and analysed the relevant international and national legal framework concerning social dialogue. The case studies focus on two special – strongly polarised and politicised – areas: healthcare and public education. Interviews conducted with sectoral representatives aim to find out the different perceptions about the practices of social dialogue and social partners’ views on the role of the state in social dialogue.