Our Position

Just transition in modern work life

Adopted by Eurocadres Executive Committee 25 September 2018

The current wave of digital transformation is rapidly changing production processes and is generating a steady demand for workers with increasingly advanced digital skills. In the shift towards a low-carbon economy, or even net positive, trade unions have long called for just transition. This concept is equally important in digitalisation. Workers need constant re- and upskilling as well as support mechanisms for just transition. People change jobs more often than ever and make complete career makeovers. The potentials are expanding, but the processes need support. When new forms of employment are rapidly arising, workers need to be better equipped for future skills needs. The private sector is a driver of economic growth, but the legislators should create the boundaries. The changes are rapid, and we need to be prepared, even if we do not fully know what will happen.

The main goals should be to increase employment rates as well as employability, developing skills and knowledge and to ensure stable income and social security regardless of the different forms of employment. A trend in self-employed professionals can be detected as well as an increasing number of workers outside “traditional” permanent work contracts. Career guidance and support mechanisms become more and more significant.

Employers’ actions are vital in the process, for example how they train their labour force and how they contribute to just transition. New models are needed, and the governments need to be the ones to regulate and provide incentives for employers, employees and educational institutions. Social partners and decision-makers should negotiate the models together. Different incentives could support activities by companies to train staff and support their professional learning process. Policymakers and stakeholders should be encouraged to develop reskilling and upskilling programmes that are industry specific, provided at local level and addressing the multifaceted digital divide in the EU. There is a risk that entire regions and industries will suffer because their local or regional authorities, companies and educational institutions are finding it difficult to deal with the magnitude of the transformation.

All policymakers and stakeholders need to collaborate and work towards reducing the gaps between and within EU countries. The nature of the current digital transformation and the introduction of Internet of Things-based production processes need a massive reskilling drive in the case of employees in manufacturing companies. European cooperation would be most effective if it tried to help SMEs and less innovative regions, because they struggle to deal with digital transformation. The attempts to reduce the general digital divide in the EU should be based on a policy mix that includes changes in regulation and investment and solutions with regards to digital skills and reskilling.

As trade unions we must fight for everyone attaining a minimum number of basic skills. To attain higher levels of skills and qualifications, unions must support that everyone has access to continuous skills development to reskill or upskill and so to keep up with the current needs of the labour market. We need clear action plans on better encouraging interaction between the social partners and higher education institutions at national level. Higher education institutions and training centres must be involved in planning courses for reskilling and upskilling adults. It is good to keep in mind that developing national skills strategies is up for the member states and social partners to decide upon, as the Commission can only assist in outlining European recommendations. On the other hand, unions must be fully involved in designing curricula and work-based learning as wells as keeping students and teachers’ unions involved as they provide new insights to the curricula.

Eurocadres recommends:

  • Provide life-long learning and training opportunities for individuals and workers throughout their careers
  • Ensure the right to educational leave
  • Develop financing mechanisms on national and EU level to support training, reskilling and upskilling – the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) should be used more effectively for the purpose
  • Grants for individual professional and knowledge development, or financial incentives for employers to develop their workers’ skills should be encouraged
  • All individuals should be given the right to transferable lifelong training regardless of the employer or employment status
  • Encourage mobility to participate in trainings across Europe
  • Social security and career services should be developed so that individuals feel secure to move from career paths to another

Our Position

Just transition in modern work life

The Legal Affairs committee (JURI) in the European Parliament has today, June 16th 2015, voted on the trade secrets directive proposal. From Eurocadres’ point of view, we can be happy with the amendments on worker’s mobility that are now explicitly mentioned in the text.

During the course of discussion regarding this directive, we have been particularly worried about employees falling into a grey area which hinders them to use their skills and work experience to enter into new jobs. As one example, it is now stated in the proposal that the directive shall not affect ‘the use of information, knowledge, experience and skills honestly acquired by employees in the normal course of their employment’. 

–Closer, but still no cigar. Developments on texts on workers’ mobility are ok but whistle-blower protection is still lacking, says Martin Jefflén, President of Eurocadres, as a comment to the vote. 

However, JURI has now accepted an amendment of extending the limitation period of when cases can be brought forward. The original text stated one to maximum two years which has now been changed to three years or subject to national rules. We therefore sincerely hope, that the definition of trade secrets and the exception of acquired skills of employees are clear enough, so that the limitation period will not affect their career developments. 

With the current text adopted by JURI, Eurocadres is still concerned about the protection of whistle-blowers. The proposal is said to not affect persons that disclose information for reasons of public interest, but the reasons of public interest are usually determined afterwards. Current track records of whistle-blowers show, that there is a considerable lack of adequate protection for them and which causes many to face legal prosecution. 

Freedom of speech is a fundamental value that needs to be ensured. We are concerned that the amendments will not be enough in order to achieve that.