Unionisation and the twin transition
Good practices in collective action and employee involvement
2020 – This document was provided by the Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies at the request of the committee on Employment and Social Affairs of the European Parliament (EMPL).
The study overviews the impacts of the twin (digital and green) transition on the labour market and the workplace. It explores the role and presents (10) good practice examples of employee involvement, both via social dialogue and collective bargaining and direct co-decision making, in shaping the transition at the macro and micro levels. Finally, the study summarises the main legislative and policy measures adopted at the EU level to foster employee involvement.
Summarising the key findings: the twin transition can have both positive and negative impacts on workers and businesses. The results from the literature review as well as stakeholder interviews suggest that there is no single predetermined transformation path, and how the transitions affect employment and workplaces greatly depends on how technologies are introduced. Virtually every impact dimension presents both potential benefits and threats to workers, including work organisation (such as worker autonomy vs AI surveillance), work content (a shift to more complex non-repetitive tasks vs a “trap” of precarious low-skilled service jobs, especially in platform economy), skills (upskilling opportunities vs the risk of exclusion due to skills becoming obsolete and insufficient availability of training), and working conditions (easier and safer physical tasks vs psychosocial risks related to permanent connectivity).
In this context, seeking out worker input can have a positive effect on shaping the digital and green transitions in a sustainable and inclusive manner. Evidence from the company-level case studies show that where employees were involved, technology adoption led to generally positive outcomes for the company workforce, including a shift to more complex and interesting tasks, upskilling and higher labour market competitiveness, improved working conditions, and/or better work-life balance. The impact on the companies themselves was also positive, including increased productivity, improved product or service quality, and/or employee satisfaction.
Some of the recommendations from the study:
- Step up efforts aimed at mitigating the negative effects of the digital (i.e. digital inclusion policies) and the green transition (e.g. tackling energy poverty) on vulnerable groups. The case study analysis (albeit limited in scope) clearly shows that where employees were involved, technology adoption led to generally positive outcomes for the workforce.
- Provide more direct funding and support to social partners (particularly trade unions).
Bednorz, J, Sadauskaitė, A, et al, 2022, Unionisation and the twin transition. Good practices in collective action and employee involvement, Publication for the committee on Employment and Social Affairs, Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies, European Parliament, Luxembourg.
The paper can be downloaded via: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/supporting-analyses or click on the button below.