Social clauses and trade unions – an international meeting in Budapest

GP BudapesztGrzegorz Piskalski adn Bartłomiej Kozek presented EU regulations, the situation in Poland and the ISSP campaign promoting sustainable public procurement.

15 trade unionists from Hungary (MASZSZ, HVDSZ2000, ÉSZT, LIGA), Bulgaria (CITUB) and Romania (BNS Romania, Cartel ALFA) took part in a meeting organised by the Friedric Ebert Foundation.

Are public institutions aware on the influence their purchasing decisions have on people? What tools can help theme promote decent working conditions? What are the problems in their further dissemination?

We searched for answers on a seminar in Budapest, that took place on December 4th.

EU perspective

Due to differences of legislation in different countries from the CEE region we focused on EU law.

In 2014, after years of domination of the lowest price criterion, seen as the tool best suited for acchieving economic activity and fair competion a big turn occured.

The 2014/24/UE directive, prepared few years after the global financial crisis, gave procurers tools allowing them to promote the development of local economies and social inclusion.

A new acronym – MEAT (Most Economically Advantegous Tender) – took place of the lowest cost criterion.

Efficiency stopped being seen through the lens of just the cheapest offers – public institutions can now analyse tender offers with tools such as life-cycle asessments or promoting companies that ie. employ people with disabilities.

Buda 1European trade unions greeted the new directive with satisfaction, although they did not cover up the fact that they counted on more, ie. on better integrating ILO directives regarding working conditions.

Zoom on Poland

The directive changed the legal situation of public procurement in EU member states. In Poland it influences the subsequent changes in the Law of Public Procurement, giving public institutions in the country a wider range of tools to use instead of just relying on the lowest cost of offers.

For social clauses usage to be used more often there is a need for public institutions to know about such tools and a bottom-up pressure on them showing public interest in the matter.

Such a view guided the Institute for Sustainable Public Procurement in its monitoring campaigns.

During the meeting in Budapest we showcased our most important activities – from checking few thousand tenders to see if they include social and environmental clauses, through interventions such as „yellow cards” up to initiating dialogue with different social groups with our Local Dialogue Fora or an international conference on the matter.

We also highlighted are biggest successes in showcasing irregularities in tenders, such as the ones involving the chancellary of the Polish Sejm (lower chamber of the parliament) or a farm in Opole, as well as positive changes made possible due to our actions – inclusion of social clauses in the tender of the university in Poznań, an internal control in the Polish Insurance Office or anulling a tender with no ecological clauses (paper) in the Warsaw district of Wola.

FES MOE LogoChallenges for the future

During the discussion the participants noted the important, negative role that corruption has on public procurement in the region. It results in inefficient tenders, mismanagement of public funds (EU money includes), as well as limiting market competition.

We hope that despite such chalennges the knoledge which we had a pleasure to share will be useful in promoting social clauses usage in the region.

Text: Bartłomiej Kozek