On September 23, the global labour federation IndustriALL issued a press release announcing that “IndustriAll Europe’s Executive Committee has agreed on a European campaign for a Just Transition for industrial workers.” From 25 October to 10 November, member organisations will hold a variety of national campaigns and events, which will be accompanied by intensified political lobbying at EU level and a pan-European social media campaign. The campaign is planned to extend beyond the two-week action, with a series of sectoral round table discussions at regional level and joint actions with IndustriALL Global in connection with COP26 in Glasgow. The political platform statement adopted by the European Executive Committee is titled Just Transition: ‘Nothing About Us, Without Us! . It includes 5 demands, including the completion of “a clear, granular mapping of the employment consequences of a shift towards climate-neutral industries”, and a “European legal framework…. to ensure workers have the right to co-decision during the transition in their workplaces and regions, strengthening social dialogue and collective bargaining.” A more complete statement of IndustriALL Europe’s priorities comes in the Strategic Plan 2021-2023 from their Congress in summer 2021.
The Council of Nordic Trade Unions, the Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung and the German Trade Union Confederation have collaborated to publish six country reports under the project banner, The Road to a Carbon-Free Europe. Each country report, about 25 pages, summarizes the national climate goals and policies, especially as related to Just Transition, for Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland , Norway, and Sweden. A Synthesis Report brings together the main findings, and presents the resulting policy recommendations, jointly adopted by the Council of Nordic Trade Unions (NFS) and the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) in November and December 2020.
The Synthesis Report calls for holistic climate change policies to navigate the broad-based transformation of society that will result from climate change, incorporating Just Transition principles as outlined by the ILO Decent Work Agenda and its four pillars: social dialogue, social protection, rights at work and job creation. Because Germany and the Nordic countries are export-oriented economies dependent on trade, and facing similar challenges in the emissions-heavy sectors of their economies, the report sees many common opportunities for zero-emission innovations and technology.
Agreenment – A Green Mentality for Collective Bargaining is a European project to investigate the role of social dialogue and collective bargaining in promoting sustainable development and the transition to a low-carbon economy. Labour and Environmental Sustainability : Comparative Report is their newly published overview, which is accompanied by separate, detailed reports for each of the six countries studied: France, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK.. The Agreenment website has further resources and bibliographies.
Written mostly by lawyers, the Comparative Report reviews the theoretical concepts influencing labour unions’ positions on environmental issues – with a key section titled “Treadmill of Production and Just Transition: Two Contrasting Patterns?”. The Comparative Report also reviews the legal structure of collective bargaining and the forms of social dialogue in each country, and for each country, discusses topics which might be included in collective bargaining – for example, linking pay to environmental performance; health and safety considerations; inclusion of environmental issues within labour-management bodies. The conclusion:
“It is up to the social partners to promote environmental sustainability as a goal for
collective bargaining or to continue with the traditional inertia that divides labour
and environmental regulation……. Collective agreements could take a leading role in driving the just transition towards a low-carbon economy, but in practice they do not regard this mission as a priority. Environmental clauses in collective agreements are still exceptional and lack momentum.”
The U.K. Study states:
“Based on extensive review of policy documents and qualitative interviews with key informants, our research confirms that UK unions have attempted to seize upon the possibilities inherent in a voluntarist system of industrial relations, in so far as broadening the scope of what are deemed to be union issues or issues that could be negotiated or bargained with management. …. However, despite the fact that many workplace initiatives have been reported throughout the UK, relatively few comprehensive agreements on environmental sustainability have been concluded… . The authors call for “…. (1) the statutory recognition of environmental union representatives together with rights to facility time and pay (rights that unions have advocated for a long time), as well as (2) expansion of the statutory scope of bargaining to include issues of environmental nature. Finally, for Just Transition processes to be operationalized in practice, UK unions should have more input in policy development. For this to be possible, (3) social dialogue must be institutionalized in a more meaningful way at the regional and national level.”
A Vision for the European Industry until 2030, released by the European Commission on June 27, is the final report of a High-Level Industrial Roundtable working group of 20 members from business and academia, and also including the General Secretary of industriAll Europe and the former Deputy General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). The press release from the ETUC is titled “Industry 2030 report is a step towards just transitions”, and states: “The comprehensive report puts European industry on a path to an “innovative, sustainable, competitive and human-centered collaborative economy [that] respects planetary boundaries…. It proposes an action plan which includes massive investment in innovation on digital and zero or low-carbon technologies, a commitment to fair and rules-based international trade and to social inclusiveness that leaves no worker or region behind.”
The report is wide-reaching, and includes a strong awareness of environmental and climate change imperatives – for example, amongst the the “game-changing actions” recommended are: Carbon-leakage 2.0 plan: ; a Green Deal with industry which shares risks and benefits, drawing on the principles of the “Entrepreneurial State” concept outlined by Mariana Mazzucato; standardized carbon reporting; and a Circular Economy leadership role for Europe by 2030.
Some statements on the issue of Social Dialogue:
“Climate, energy, raw materials, and bio-economy policies are key areas considered essential for the future of EU industry in terms of challenges and opportunities. They need to go hand in hand with industrial policy and a societal dialogue on what emission reduction and other environmental policies mean in terms of costs, benefits and behavioural changes for everyone. (p. 13)
Considering the speed with which technologies and new business models transform entire industries, planning structural disruption regularly and proactively is key. The establishment of a culture of social dialogue at all levels (company, sector, regional, national) becomes imperative to ensure smooth and just workforce transitions, to help re-train those whose jobs are at risk and to support the regeneration of adversely affected regions.”(p. 19)
Ensure social fairness of industrial transition: Foster a culture of constructive and effective social dialogue at all levels of the economy (company, sector, country), according to national industrial relations systems and timely information and consultation processes as key elements for anticipating and managing change, i.e. skills.”
Selected statements from the extensive proposals re education and training:
“Link education and training policy more strategically to the industrial policy for instance by reinforcing cooperation between companies (especially SMEs), social partners & industry and education and training providers.
Enhance industry’s active role in upskilling and skills development. EU citizens of all ages need to be sensitized to engage in lifelong learning. At the same time, private sector, in collaboration with EU, national and European social partners, should be encouraged to provide training and life-long learning opportunities for all workers. This could be done by establishing new and innovative educational programmes and solutions to complement the role of academia and scaling-up successful existing initiatives, e.g. work-based learning and dual systems , modularized learning offer, e-learning; promotion of quality and effective apprenticeships; promotion of sector-specific training initiatives; providing adult learning opportunities to prevent skills obsolesce and support employability; installing a culture of lifelong learning, including through the promotion of the internal mobility of workers inside the company….
Maintain or increase the employability of the workforce, especially in sectors in transition, by up- and reskilling of the workforce to the jobs of the future, and supporting a smooth transition from one job to another (group outplacement, employment cells, tailor-made training programmes, job search assistance). This should be a shared responsibility between industry and the public sector.” (p.32)
Build a pan-European coalition involving the EU, Member States, regions, industry, education and training systems and trade unions to take a systemic approach to skills…. Under the coalition, the EU will build on existing instruments to further facilitate flexibility and fast response mechanisms to react to changing labour market needs through procedures for the certification and compatibility of skills
and qualifications across borders and industrial sectors, e.g. using skills badges, which shall recognize informal learning, e.g. by working in a company. (p.33)
SolarPower Europe, together with consultants EY, published Solar PV Jobs & Value Added in Europe in early November, concluding that Europe is poised for a solar jobs revival after several years of policy-driven uncertainty. The report discusses the policy environment, including trade policies, makes job projections, and estimates the socio-economic impact per segment of the value chain, for roof-mounted and ground-mounted solar. The job creation forecast: the the PV sector workforce will grow from 81,000 full time jobs (FTE) in 2016 to over 174,000 FTE by 2021 (an increase of 145% in the next 5 years). As quoted in an article in PV Magazine, the President of the European solar industry association states that an additional 45,500 jobs could be created across Europe next year if the trade restrictions on modules and cells from Asia were to be removed. SolarPower Europe proposes an industrial competitiveness strategy for solar in Europe which aims to support 300,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2030. It has also released a Policy Declaration, Small is Beautiful which promotes the benefits of small scale, clean, locally owned distributed energy.
In the U.S., the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) released the 2017 Clean Energy Industry Report on October 27, showing a 3.4% employment growth rate for clean energy between December 2015 to December 2016 (surpassing the economy as a whole). Growth is projected to double again to 7% by the end of 2017. At the end of 2016, clean energy jobs employed 146,000 New Yorkers, distributed as follows: 110,000 jobs in energy efficiency; 22,000 renewable electric power generation (12,000 of which are found in solar energy); 8,400 alternative transportation; 2,900 renewable fuels, and 1,400 in grid modernization and storage. The report also discusses a labour market imbalance where demand exceeds supply of clean energy workers, with employers reporting the most difficult positions to fill are engineers, installers or technicians, and sales representatives.
Finally from the U.S., an article by Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) economists, appeared in the October issue of Monthly Labor Review with a summary and analysis of the detailed data of Employment Projections for the entire U.S. economy for 2016-26, released on October 24. The article notes: “Healthcare and related occupations account for 17 of the 30 fastest growing occupations from 2016 to 2026. … “Of the 30 fastest growing occupations, 6 are involved in energy production. Employment for solar photovoltaic (PV) installers is expected to grow extremely fast (105.3 percent) as the expansion and adoption of solar panels and their installation create new jobs. However, because this is a relatively small occupation, with a 2016 employment level of 11,300, this growth will account for only about 11,900 new jobs over the next 10 years. Developments in wind energy generation have made this energy option increasingly competitive with traditional forms of power generation, such as coal and natural gas, and are expected to drive employment growth for wind turbine service technicians. Employment of these workers is projected to grow 96.1 percent. As with solar PV installers, this occupation is small, and its rapid growth will account for only about 5,500 new jobs.” Surprisingly, “Faster-than-average employment growth from 2016 to 2026 is projected for a number of oil and gas occupations, including roustabouts, service unit operators, rotary drill operators, and derrick operators. The oil price assumptions in the MA model are expected to cause employment growth in the oil and gas extraction industry, at an annual growth rate of 1.7 percent over the 2016–26 decade. ”
An interim report by the Club of Rome examines the social benefits that a circular economy would bring to the Swedish economy. The full report, due out in summer 2015, will include the Dutch and Spanish economies as well. The Circular Economy and Benefits for Society: Swedish Case Study shows Jobs and Climate as Clear Winners estimated the effects of three different scenarios to reduce carbon emissions.
The report found that if all three decoupling strategies were undertaken together, carbon emissions would be cut by almost 70% and job creation would likely exceed 100,000. This report was partly supported by Swedish Association of Recycling Industries, and was released with the stated objective of influencing the current political debate in the European Commission, where a proposed Circular Economy program was withdrawn amidst controversy in 2014. The original proposal, included a 70 per cent recycling and reuse target for 2030, as well as a requirement to increase the recycling rate for packaging waste to 80 per cent by 2030 and a ban on the landfilling of recyclable plastics, metals, glass, paper and cardboard, and biodegradable waste by 2025. Read also Circular Economy Package Consultation Expected Before Summer (April 21) and follow developments from the official EC Circular Economy website.