FAQ & Lexicon













Bipartite dialogue

Bipartite social dialogue consists in exchanges between representatives of workers’ and employers’ organizations on labor-related issues, which may consist in consultations, negotiations, and information-sharing.


Civil society

Understood to encompass the whole of non-governmental organizations and institutions in a society which bond citizens united by common interests and concerns, civil society includes trade unions, employers’ organizations, charities, research institutes, and all such organizations whose members seek to make their voices heard, collectively, through peaceful means, and thus become actors for change within their communities.

Collective agreements

A collective agreement is a decision reached in the course of collective bargaining conducted between workers and employers. It serves to regulate the terms and conditions of the workplace and determines the responsibilities of workers and employers towards each other.

Collective bargaining

The ability to freely conduct collective bargaining is among the fundamental right of workers, and is made possible by social dialogue. It consists in negotiations, conducted by workers’ representatives with employers, regarding labor-related issues such as wages and working conditions.

Constructive Dialogue

Embracing mainstream international law, this section on constructive dialogue explores the context, history and effect of the area of the law covered


According to the ILO’s definition, consultation consists in the exchange of views between the parties of social dialogue in a way that fosters better informed, in-depth dialogue. Whereas some bipartite and tripartite bodies are empowered to reach binding agreements, others are merely consultative and serve the sole purpose of facilitating understanding between the parties.


Decent work

As per the ILO’s definition, decent work involves opportunities for work that is productive and delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration, freedom for people to express their concerns, organize and participate in the decisions that affect their daily lives and equality of opportunity and treatment for all men and women. It is enshrined in the 8th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for 2030.


Employers’ unions

Employers’ organizations, unions, or associations and one of the main actors in social dialogue. Essentially, they are organizations which bring together employers of wage labor, and allow for separate employers to participate collectively in negotiations with trade unions and other workers’ organizations.

Enabling environment

An enabling environment for social dialogue is understood to mean a legal, political, and socioeconomic framework which allows for social dialogue to be conducted freely and justly between partners. Among other elements, it should include legislation protective of such fundamental freedoms as the right to organize, freedom of association, and freedom of peaceful assembly; non-interference by Government in the process of collective bargaining, as well as in the internal affairs of trade unions and employers’ organizations.


Flexible employment

As part of ‘business-friendly’ policy packages, Governments often commit to easing restrictions on conditions for employment, whereby hiring and firing processes are facilitated. This is done to encourage foreign investment and promote employment, though it has often proven to have harmful consequences on the rights and livelihoods of workers.



A government is the system through which a country of state is controlled and organized. In many cases, governments are involved in all aspects of the country’s life, and are expected to promote peace and security, ensure economic prosperity, and protecting the well-being of those living within the areas under their control. In regards to social dialogue, government representatives may sometimes play the role of mediators in the context of exchanges between workers and employers (tripartite dialogue). In general, however, governments are expected to uphold the agreements reached by the social partners, insofar as they are fair and don’t threaten social stability. Governments are likewise tasked with ensuring that the rights of their citizens are upheld, which involves monitoring labor market practices and implementing the necessary policies to that effect.



The ILO defines negotiation as collective bargaining at the enterprise, sectoral, regional, national and even multinational level. It is an essential, and one of the most widespread forms of social dialogue.


Public policies

Public policy reflects a government’s attitude towards a given issue in society. It encapsulates the strategy through which public officials propose to address a certain sphere of public management, in accordance with constitutional principles.


Social balance

Social balance is understood as the degree to which social differences can be resolved peacefully between the various social actors. Social dialogue plays a crucial role in ensuring this fundamental harmony insofar as it allows for agreements and compromises to be reached between these actors, while preventing the emergence of unequal and unjust socioeconomic power dynamics.

Social Dialogue

Social dialogue is an instrument of good governance through which workers’ and employers’ organizations are allowed to share expertise and resources, and discuss issues pertaining to labor policy. It is a device through which the often-conflicting interests and positions of workers and employers can be peacefully negotiated and reconciled in a way that ensures social cohesion and fair practices in the labor market. At times, these exchanges may be mediated by Government representatives, in what is known as tripartite dialogue.

Social pact

A peak-level deal (for instance at national level) over a comprehensive public policy package negotiated between governments, trade unions and/or employer’s organisations.

Social protection

Social protection policies are those policies and programs aimed at protecting the more vulnerable elements of society from poverty, unemployment, exclusion, and other social risks. As per the ILO’s definition, social security should involve access to health care and income security, particularly in cases of old age, unemployment, sickness, invalidity, work injury, maternity or loss of a main income earner.

Sustainable Development Goals 2030 (SDGs 2030)

The UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development consists of a worldwide commitment by political and social actors to promote peace, prosperity, human rights, green economies, and decent working and living conditions the world over by the year 2030. Although ensuring effective social dialogue is not enshrined in the list of SDGs for 2030, the ILO and other experts and labor rights advocates have repeatedly stated that the achievement of goal 8, for instance, which concerns decent work, cannot be envisioned in the absence of an enabling environment for social dialogue.


Trade unions

Trade unions are organizations of workers through which the latter are allowed to conduct collective bargaining and thereby safeguard their rights and interests. In principle, these should be allowed to operate independently vis-à-vis both Government and employers’ representatives. The freedom and independence of trade unions is broadly understood as a necessary condition for the conduction of meaningful social dialogue.

Tripartite dialogue

Tripartite dialogue introduces the Government as a third partner in social dialogue. In this context, the role of Government representatives is to mediate the exchanges in an equitable and impartial manner, to ensure that these are conducted according to principles of justice and non-discrimination.

Frequently Asked Questions
You have a question ?

You will find the answers to the most frequent questions you ask us.

Comment créer un compte?
Which are the most common activities in Social Dialogue?
  • Collective bargaining.
  • Consultation.
  • Information sharing.
Which are the objectives of the social dialogue?
  • Social peace.
  • Resolution of the economic and social major problems.
  • Sustainability of businesses and social protection.
  • Economic development and social progress.
  • Creation of decent and productive jobs.
Which are the various forms of the Social Dialogue?

The social dialogue can be ‘Bipartite’ and brings together workers and employers, whereas ‘tripartite’ social dialogue also involves government.

What is Social Dialogue?

Social dialogue is the process of negotiation by which different actors in society (or ‘social partners’) reach agreement to work together on policies and activities. Social dialogue takes place at national sectoral and regional level.