The advancing digital transformation and automation are having a profound impact on employment and on jobs. Globalisation has increased the pressure of competition, with the result that working conditions have deteriorated in many areas.
In this context, workers in Europe today are exposed to a number of developments that are detrimental to the quality of their work: human work is being replaced by machines and artificial intelligence, work is being increasingly controlled and monitored by corresponding technology, workers are expected to be available at all times with the boundaries between working hours and family time growing blurred, while stress increases constantly.
Hitherto unsolved problems in the world of labour also persist alongside the new phenomena, including aspects such as the gender pay gap and unsolved issues of cross-border work, particularly in the international transport sector.
During the education year 2018/19, the European Centre for Workers’ Questions (EZA) coordinated a series of projects comprising five seminars in various European regions in order to analyse the pressing challenges currently confronting affected workers and the organisations that represent then, and to elaborate strategies for social dialogue.
As indicated in this report, the presentations and discussions during the seminars underlined the importance of well-functioning social
dialogue and named many possible courses of action for workers’ organisations.
These are not only capable of counteracting the deterioration in working conditions and the erosion of labour rights, but also help to shape positive developments for the workers in many areas.
They can advocate better and equal access for all workers to life-long learning opportunities to improve the skills needed to cope with digitisation. In terms of social policy, they can stand up for just taxation systems to achieve more social justice. When it comes to collective bargaining, they can demand greater wage transparency and equal pay for men and women doing the same job or work. In the international transport sector, they can urge for compliance with mandatory break times. As far as EZA and its member organisations are concerned, it is also particularly important at this present moment in time to initiate a fundamental discussion about the value of work and to contribute Christian/social values in such discussions.
These fascinating questions have been summarised in the project coordination report on the “Quality of work” compiled by Pedro Estêvão from our member organisation CFTL (Centro de Formação e Tempos Livres).