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The NEPSI industry sector organisations and their counterpart trade union federations negotiated a multisectoral social dialogue Agreement between 1 September 2005 and 2 February 2006.
The European Commission supported the project, qualifying it as innovative: indeed, where European social dialogue agreements are usually sectoral or cross-industrial, this one is the first of its kind. An EC budget was granted to cover the costs of the negotiation, and the European trade associations which were not yet members of a social dialogue committee at EU level were considered as eligible to participate in this negotiation after scrutiny by the Commission.
Two working groups were set up for the negotiation: one Steering Working Group to draft the Agreement and discuss political aspects, and one Technical Working Group (made up of producers and consumers of products and materials that contain crystalline silica) to draft the technical annexes of the Agreement, especially the Good Practice Guide. Experts from national health institutes – the HSE (UK), the BerufGenossenschaften (D) and the Instituto Nacional de Silicosis (ES) – supported the technical working group.
The final text was unanimously approved by the negotiating Parties and the negotiations ended on 25 April 2006 with the signature of the Agreement, in the presence of Commissioner Spidla.
Each signatory European industry sector association and trade union federation is represented within a bi-partite Council composed of 30 Members, including 4 chairpersons, with an equal number of representatives of the employers’ and workers’ delegations.
The NEPSI Council is the only decision-making body under the Agreement. Two permanent co-chairmen (from the producing industries) and two permanent vice-co-chairmen (from the downstream-user industries) are appointed among the Employer and Employee delegations to chair NEPSI Council meetings.
This Council is in charge of: