Digitalization of the Economy and impact on labour market

UNI Europa’s plan to harness the impact of digitalisation in the services industry unveiled in high-level conference

UNI Europa, in partnership with Centre for Social Innovation (ZSI), held its project conference ‘Shaping Industrial Relations in a Digitalising Services Industry’ on 15 and 16 May 2018 in Brussels. Almost 30 high-level guest speakers, panellists and moderators enriched the conference with their contributions and shared their ideas and knowledge on various topics on the new world of work.

Whereas the lectures provided a great overview on the impact of digitalisation on the future world of work, the panel debates focused on the challenges and opportunities for trade unions as regards workers’ representation at company level and collective bargaining as well as employment relationships, the role of social partners and the significance of work in a fast paced society.
More than 100 participants from all over Europe interacted in various interactive Q&A sessions with guest speakers from trade unions, the ILO and TUAC as well as the European institutions, employers’ organisations and academia.
The project conference followed three workshops on ‘Service Markets’, ‘Labour Markets’ and ‘Work Organisation’, which have taken place in Brussels, Berlin and Stockholm since October 2017.
Based on the outcome of these workshops, a discussion paper on the ’10 point plan’ was prepared, which is a further step on developing UNI Europa’s policy on the future of work in the services sectors. The focus is set on the future role of trade unions as drivers in shaping industrial relations, the need for an EU-wide employment relationship 4.0, the anticipation of change and (re)training opportunities as well as data protection and privacy rules.
The discussion paper was presented by UNI Europa’s Regional Secretary Oliver Röthig and received special attention at the conference. Remarks and proposals will be further elaborated at UNI Europa’s Executive Meeting in September 2018.  This video visualises the ’10 point plan’.


Oliver Röthig stated “digitalisation is transforming the way that we work and how employers interact with their employees. This is particularly apparent in the services industry, which is a flagship industry in Europe.” He continued “the solution for these rapidly evolving changes and challenges is more robust sectoral collective bargaining, which the EU must support”.
The research conducted in the framework of the project was led by Dr Ursula Holtgrewe, head of unit for Work and Equal Opportunities at ZSI in Vienna, and her research team. The publications are available in English, French and German on our project website.
Dr Holtgrewe stated: “digitalisation is never just about digitalisation. It is shaped by transnationalisation, company strategies and also by societies’ uses of its opportunities. Services have a key part in creating democratic and inclusive ways of living and working. Sustaining this role requires dedicated and coordinated efforts by unions, policy and civil society.”
UNI Europa strives to reinforce the power of its affiliates in a digitalising services industry, in which the influence of national trade unions is more and more constrained by the impact of the outside world as well as governments and companies that shift decision-making to the European level and beyond. In light of these developments UNI Europa will continue to shape its own political path and role.
Two reflection workshops on this project and a follow up project will take place in the near future.
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