On 12 December 2023, the morning before the opening of the EFBWW 14th Congress began with its first side event dedicated to Gender Equality in Construction, Wood, and Forestry. The EFBWW launched its gender toolbox, a practical manual with good practices to be used by trade union representatives when negotiating collective bargaining agreements. The manual was executed in partnership with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) and with the University of Westminster. The event brought together more than 150 participants.
The aim of this project is to strengthen, reinforce and promote gender equality and women’s participation in the construction, wood and forestry industries, enhancing gender-based diversity and female leadership with a particular focus on the sectoral social dialogue, including at European level.
Based in the questionnaire launched in 2020-2021, the toolbox presents possible ways in which inclusiveness can be embedded in site and company operations, alongside other aspects, such as union involvement, OSH, risk avoidance, and employment security.
The guide includes best practices where the cultural and structural barriers to gender diversity have been addressed and proposes solutions in terms of:
- Employment policies and practices,
- Industry culture and image,
- HR policies and practices,
- Working conditions,
- Effective VET.
During the panel discussions, national affiliates – FNV (the Netherlands), ACV-CSC BIE (Belgium), and IG Metall (Germany) – presented good examples of actions that the trade unions are already putting in practice to stop and reverse the trend of severe underrepresentation of women in construction, wood and forestry.
The panel had the presence of the General Director of the European Construction Industry Federation (FIEC), Domenico Campogrande, who presented good practices from the employers’ side.
The participants also discussed the central question on how the construction, wood, and forestry sectors can be more attractive to workers. Quality jobs with good work-life balance, good vocational education and training, and conditions that ensure health and safety at work are the ways forward.