Zdzisława Śladowskiego

     Mr. SLADOWSKI (Employer, Poland)
It is a great honour for me to represent Polish employers during this 96th Session of the International Labour Conference. Participating in the Conference is both an honour and a cause of great satisfaction, as every year, it serves as a source of inspiration and numerous initiatives. It is evident how, after a few years of operation, the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda is yielding more and more impressive effects. This was noted in the Global Report on Equality at work: Tackling the challenges, which provides a very detailed description of many examples of discrimination and inequalities in the contemporary labour world and outlines the successes of programmes and efforts aimed at altering the attitudes of societies and authorities and at changing statutory regulations.
A variety of documents show how the ILO catchphrase of “decent work” is being transformed into real actions, including the Report by the Director- General. It highlights the role and significance of the need for joint, efforts at the local and global levels to promote sustainable living conditions, the sustainable functioning of enterprises and a sustainable environment.
In this spirit, our Conference has launched a Report devoted to the promotion of sustainable enterprises, something which is in the centre of focus for Polish employers.
The Report, by opening up for discussion the notion of “sustainable enterprises”, points to the huge opportunities inherent in this concept. In this regard, I would like to stress that placing emphasis on recognizing the role played by private businesses in creating jobs, wealth and development opportunities for individuals and entire societies serves as a valuable approach to identifying additional links between legal, fiscal, economic, social and environmental aspects and human capital development, and lays the groundwork for a stronger exchange of information and good practices.
The Report also significantly outlines the possibilities of redefining the policy frameworks for both the business and the public sectors oriented towards the management of changes, such as takeovers, bankruptcies, disclosures and restructuring processes, which usually run counter sustainability.
And finally, there are the crucial parts of the Report on the comprehensive analysis of conditions which can ensure the competitiveness of economies, regions and companies – something so perfectly shown in the Report in the case study of Germany and the Bavarian region (pages 65–66).
On the other hand, discussions on sustainable enterprises are already under way and have revealed the risks which are linked to question of sustainable enterprises. Let me list some examples: first of all, reducing the whole issue to the new obligations of enterprises oriented towards social responsibilities provides a highly unbalanced, not to say distorted, view of the entire concept of sustainable enterprise; second, the meaning of these concepts should not be limited to corporate social responsibility activities which are, we must emphasize, only of a voluntary nature and should remain as such; and third, the strong orientation among our partners from the trade unions to take action on behalf of sustainable enterprise can provide an appropriate opportunity to fight against business.
On behalf of the Polish Employers’ group, I want to put the question: “Are we, in Poland, on the right track towards creating a climate for this kind of discussion and solving problems connected with a balanced model of sustainable enterprise?” This is hard to judge, for many reasons. First, because of the lack of earnest social dialogue among the partners. I am afraid that the Government’s attitude to the issues presented by social dialogue challenges is reminiscent of a game. At this stage, although the issue is in the full public limelight, there is no real debate in a spirit of cooperation to solve the difficulties. Secondly, the preference of the Government and, from time to time, trade unions for oversimplified generalizations means that limited-scale phenomena of rather secondary importance are seen as the generally prevailing picture throughout the country, an approach which does not lend itself to creating an atmosphere conducive to problem solving.
Thirdly, there is a lack of understanding of many of the modern challenges which we must face, especially in the long-term, which require all the social partners to work together.
In conclusion, I hope, of course, that using the good examples and the strong principles of the tripartite traditions and the ILO’s achievements, we will find a way to increase the effectiveness of social dialogue in Poland through practical and important efforts. And we are ready to offer our substantive contribution to the new subjects discussed at the ILO level.