The President of the Republic suggested this Wednesday that the composition of the economic and social partners with a seat on the Permanent Commission for Social Dialogue (CPCS) be rethought to cover “new realities”, giving examples of banking, insurance and large-scale commerce.
Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was speaking at the Centro Cultural de Belém, in Lisbon, where he ended the presentation session of the book “30 years of the Economic and Social Council”, by Pedro Tadeu, published by Almedina.
Emphasizing that “the country has changed a lot in these 30 years”, the head of state defended that “the social agreement has to be truly representative of the Portuguese economic and social reality” and that “legal-institutional formulas are worthless if the country changes and the formulas stay the same”.
“In terms of social consultation, what a present or future statute of a body like this should safeguard is the capacity, the flexibility to adjust to these changes, and to demand from those who are the partners that they are truly representative partners, that is, that accompany changes in society, not be fixed at a certain moment”, he continued.
The President of the Republic referred that the CPCS “only a very small number of partners are represented there, which supposedly cover everything, but no longer cover the fundamental realities of Portuguese society”.
“They do not cover the financial sector” or “very significant service sectors” or “other social realities that are emerging, the most varied, from migrations to other forms of exclusion”, he pointed out.
Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa observed that “it is not an easy task that may await the legislators in rethinking this body, because it was conceived to bring together certain realities in a certain historical time” and concluded his speech by declaring: “Imagination is needed”.
Questioned, on the way out, on this point of his intervention, the head of state reiterated the idea that “there are certain realities that are not covered today by the economic and social partners: banking and insurance, for example, big business, certain sectors of services have their own organizations, and others that have their own organizations that have emerged, naturally, civil construction”.
“You have to rethink to know if the partners that existed I don’t know how many years ago today have the representativeness they had at that time”, he insisted, adding that “this has nothing to do with the legal status, it has to do with the associative reality” .
In his speech, the head of state maintained that the emergence of “inorganic phenomena” shows “the difficulty of existing, prestigious and fundamental institutions to keep up with economic and social changes” and that “this is happening in Portuguese society there is certainly a good couple of years”.
“The creation of new institutions that are parallel or lateral to the existing partners confirms this. It is perhaps preferable and easier for these partners to reform, rethink themselves, to reinforce the added legitimacy they can give, namely in social consultation”, he advised.
In his view, “there is no point in talking about summit understandings in social consultation that are not accompanied by such closeness in terms of the economic and social fabric”.
When making this “reflection on concertation”, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa mentioned that “it is not necessarily a responsibility of the CES”, but that “it must be open by statute to this capacity for change”.
The number of entities represented at the CES even “increased very significantly”, but this “has nothing to do with social consultation, which generates a monumental misunderstanding right from the start, which is the expectation of some to have influence in the consultation social,” he said.
“It is necessary that the institutions change, if they do not change, other parallel, simultaneous ones will appear, which little by little will be replacing”, he warned.
As for the CES, he predicted that “if it stays as it is, it starts to lose a significant part of its relevance, which is unfair”.
Before the President of the Republic, the President of the CES, Francisco Assis, and the Minister of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security, Ana Mendes Godinho, spoke.
According to the Constitution, “the CES is the body for consultation and consultation in the field of economic and social policies, which participates in the preparation of proposals for major options and plans for economic and social development”, and it is incumbent upon the Assembly of the Republic to elect its President by a two-thirds majority.
The CPCS, according to the law in force, includes representatives of the Government, the CGTP and UGT trade union confederations and the employers’ confederations of farmers, commerce and services, industry and tourism.