Based on UNI Europa’s work in the EU social dialogue committees of private security and industrial cleaning, its Best Value Guides, as well as the EESC’s on-going work on public procurement and dignity in work in cleaning and facility services (CCMI/174), this project seeks to address how the current EU directives in public procurement affect labour standards in the above-mentioned sectors, how public administrations are applying the current EU directives and what promising practices social partners and clients have developed in this field of industrial relations.
The project brings together six research institutions from across Europe and is supported by the employers’ associations CoESS and EFCI, trade unions in Denmark, France, Germany, Italy and the UK, as well as three European Works Councils.
The academic literature on employment and industrial relations increasingly acknowledges that working conditions within one firm strongly depend on relations between firms in global and domestic supply chains; and that therefore human resource management and industrial relations aimed at negotiating fair and decent working conditions must follow suit, i.e. transcend organisational boundaries.
Previous research has in particular addressed the responsibility and impact of private sector lead firms in global manufacturing firms; more recently, the research agenda was extended to include global and domestic supply chains in private service sector industries (e.g. logistics). Yet there is limited research so far on public supply chains and the responsibility of public purchasers for working conditions in outsourced segments of the public sector.
The few existing studies as well as a review of recent policy reports suggest that the revised European Public Procurement Directives from 2014 have paralleled and supported efforts in EU member states to move away from ‘buying cheap’ towards ‘buying best value’ or even ‘buying social’ in public procurement practices. Yet they equally suggest that socially responsible public procurement (SRPP) lag behind much more dynamic developments with regard to other ‘strategic’ procurement goals, such as fostering environmental protection (Green Public Procurement – GPP) and innovations.
Moreover, as the latest publication on SRPP by the European Commission documents (EASME 2020), good practices in SRPP seem to only very occasionally address the issue of decent working conditions and instead mostly focus on access to employment for disadvantaged groups, or access to public tenders for SMEs, or else best value for the users of the outsourced services. Actors and processes of Social Dialogue also play a very marginal role in these local level initiatives.
In order to diminish this gap, this project develops an approach which centres on the interrelationships of working conditions, collective bargaining and public procurement in two industries where an important share of jobs is covered by public contracts – security services and cleaning. The project investigates how public authorities seek to manage and possibly to improve working conditions in public supply chains and how stakeholders / Social partners in these two industries support a boundary spanning approaches to promote decent work. These questions will be investigated in the two concerned sectors in six countries (DK, FR, DE, IT, PL, UK). Based on this evidence, the project consortium will produce six national reports, two cross-country sectoral reports, and three reports on promising and problematic practices. In doing so, the project makes a unique contribution the academic field of industrial relations research, positively impacts on future policy-making at the EU and national levels, and contributes to create new stakeholder networks.
The steering committee made up of researchers and UNI Europa’s Property Services team will serve as a forum of mutual learning. The final conference will bring together researchers, trade unionists, employers and public authorities to discuss how different stakeholders can address the challenges associated with purchasing cleaning and security services.
Download and read the executive summaries of the national reports: