Two items of the agenda were on the Social Charter .
The first was on the report made, on behalf of the Conference of the INGOs by Gabriel Nissim and Marie-JosÚ Schmitt for the Governmental Committee that met on the 3rd of May in Strasbourg.
To remember: The States’ reports on a determined series of articles are available each year
( year N) by the end of October on the web site of the Council of Europe. This is the work done by each State to show that its laws, plans and policies are in line with their commitment to the European Social Charter concerning the articles under monitoring for Year N . The European Committee of Social Rights examines these reports and prepares its conclusions on each report during year N+1. These conclusions are then examined the year after (N+2)by the Governmental Committee before being given to the Committee of Ministers.
Gabriel Nissim stressed the importance of working together for a full implementation of the Social Charter and underlined how important our different approaches can be. Marie-JosÚ Schmitt made a summary of the statement made by the working group on poverty as a light cast on Article 30 of the Charter insisting on the various aspects of poverty from extreme poverty to precarity, and on the growing danger of poverty for a greater part of the population because of the present crisis of which the consequences cannot be measured yet. She said that the audience was really listening and that some exchanges could take place during the coffee break.
The second item was on the future work of the members of the INGO conference on the presently examined articles of the Social Charter. All these articles are tackling family issues this year.
Mme Schmitt listed the articles, quoted parts or the whole of them and detailed their scope :
Article 7 : the right of children and young persons to protection ( in employment)
Article 8 : the right of employed women to maternity protection (paid leave, no dismissal when pregnant and other rights)
Article 16: the right of the family to social, legal and economic protection (means for combating poverty such as family benefits, provision of family housing ); those NGOs involved in the field of social work should consider making an input on these issues .
Article 17: the right of children and young persons to social, legal and economic protection. This article includes measures from care and assistance to the right to free primary and secondary education. The INGOs should consider whether in their state all children enjoy the right to school, including those with social difficulties, children from migrant families and children with disabilities.
Article 19: the right of migrant workers and their families to protection and assistance. This article contains a list of measures that the States should undertake for those migrants who are lawfully within their territories. The INGOs should consider how to stress that the same rights should apply to those persons who have not yet got the necessary authorisation for being on a state’s territory. The working group on migrants should benefit from the input of all INGOs having an experience in this area.
Article 27: the right of workers with family responsibilities to equal opportunities and equal treatment. This article is of particular importance for single parent families; for this parent it is often very difficult to combine working hours and caring for children. This article includes the provision of child day care services.
Article 31: the right to housing
Some INGOs have already begun to work on part of these articles so as to provide the working group on the European Social Charter with data from different countries. Others volunteered to provide information from their members on one or two articles.
It has been decided that:
-the different INGO members of the committee should choose on which article they will focus their research of data that they collect at grass-root level from their respective local members in each State
- A methodology for contributing to the monitoring of the European Social Charter will be developed and circulated together with the agenda of the next meeting.