On 28 September 2022, industriAll Europe held a workshop on how to use its new recommendations on Just Transition and decarbonisation in European Works Councils. The two-day workshop took place in Bratislava and was organised in cooperation with the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) and industriAll Europe affiliate, OZ KOVO. It brought together EWC members, EWC coordinators and local shop stewards from Slovakia, France, Austria, Albania and Italy.
The workshop took place in a context shaped by the energy price crisis and increasing pressure on companies leading to closures, halts in production, short-term work, redundancies and companies not being able to invest in the much-needed decarbonisation technologies. Whilst this has not reduced the need to decarbonise, climate change remains a reality: it has increased the need and challenge for workers to make their voices heard.
Strategic and investment decisions in multinational companies facing the decarbonisation challenge are mainly taken in headquarter countries. This, combined with a lack of social dialogue at national and company level in many countries, is making it difficult for works councils and trade unions to anticipate changes and ensure that transition processes are just: fair to all workers, not destroying but preserving and creating good quality jobs, anticipated, managed and negotiated with workers for every aspect that concerns them.
The transition to decarbonised industries is ultimately implemented at company level. Trade unions and European Works Councils have a proactive role to play in the process. IndustriAll Europe’s guidelines therefore provide practical guidance for trade union coordinators and workers’ representatives in EWCs and SEs:
- Just Transition is a topic for social dialogue in multinational companies according to law because decarbonisation is of a transnational nature.
- Workers’ representatives should ensure that decarbonisation and Just Transition are included as topics in their EWC agreements.
- Workers’ representatives must get informed, should contact trade unions at national or European level (industriAll Europe), be trained (the EWC directive establishes a right to training) and develop a strategy.
- Workers’ representatives should demand information on their company’s strategy.
During the workshop, participants shared their company experiences and local trade union initiatives. In some multinational companies, good practices already exist regarding the anticipation of change, planning of job-to-job transitions, as well as re- and upskilling schemes. Some EWCs have already included the energy transition and Just Transition in their EWC agreements.
The workshop concluded with an action plan on how to put Just Transition high on the agenda of EWCs.
Judith Kirton-Darling, Deputy General Secretary of industriAll Europe:
“The energy crisis and climate change are two existential threats that are there to stay. There is no business as usual, status quo is not an option.
“Working people should not pay the price for profit-driven corporate decisions. Workers’ representatives, including EWCs, must be involved in shaping strategies to make workplaces environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.”