The Global Deal

Safety and Health at Work through Social Dialogue


28 April 2021 - The importance of safety and health at work has been drastically emphasised by the arrival of COVID-19. On the occasion of the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, the Global Deal highlights the benefit of having robust social dialogue in place to shield workers from the pandemic.


On numerous occasions during the COVID-19 crisis, social dialogue has been instrumental in reaching agreement on measures to protect workers from getting infected with the coronavirus while doing their job. Many arrangements, protocols and agreements have been negotiated, at company and sector level and even for entire economies, that provide workers with protective equipment, reorganise workplaces and work organisation, arrange for clean and disinfected workplaces, adjust the rotation time of shifts and agree on balanced ways to organise telework. These measures result from the use of social dialogue to help workers and businesses to overcome these obstacles and find a solution that benefits all.


Examples from Global Deal partners testify to the role played in the crisis by social dialogue in making workplaces safer from the pandemic. Sodexo and the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tourism, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF) made a joint statement on 19 March 2021 to improve health and safety standards at work globally, including measures to extend and ensure protection at client sites and the commitment not to sanction staff who raise legitimate concerns.

In May 2020, UNI Global reached an agreement with Telefonica, covering 120,000 employees, that sets strict safety guidelines for workplaces and establishes monitoring mechanisms between unions and management, either by using existing health and safety committees or by creating emergency COVID-19 commissions to respond to workplace issues, conduct education and follow-up to ensure compliance with the measures.

In addition, UNI Global, Carrefour, Auchan, Casino Group, and El Corte Ingles adopted a joint declaration in April 2020 covering 1 million workers to work jointly on health and safety measures. Measures include improving rules on hygiene and safety but also social support for employees in the form of paid sick leave, bonus pay for hazardous work and and support for vulnerable workers such as disabled workers and pregnant women.




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