Ceemet’s Director General addressed ETUC’s conference on a fair green transition, providing insights on the impact of the transition on the tech & industry sector, its workers and their skills and which role of social dialogue can play.

At the conference on 17 December, Ceemet engaged into a discussion with Isabelle Barthes from Ceemet’s trade union counterpart industriAll Europe, ETUI’s Bela Galgoczi and CSC representatives Fien Vandamme and Kathleen Van Walle.

Threats for the Visegrad region

The challenges for the Visegrad region are not just limited to those countries. Companies and their workers across the EU have to cope with the consequences of the green and digital transition.

The risk lies in the point that the social and employment related impact of the twin transition were never really considered. It is only five months after the launch of the ‘Fit for 55’ Package that Council Recommendations were put forward that aim to anticipate on the consequences of the ‘Fit for 55’ Package.

Changes for manufacturers and supply chain

Although the Metal, Engineering and Technology-based (MET) industries have been facing changes before, the twin transition is a particular one.

The impact on companies differs from one company to another. While some suppliers will have to radically adapt to the new products of manufacturers, some won’t have to change that much as the ‘old’ technology will not become immediately redundant as the current lifecycle of those investments is not over.

The impact on products depends on the level of investments, for example in recharging infrastructure, and choices on the sources for electricity, for example hydrogen or other sources.

Tackling skills challenge

The green transition has consequences on the production processes and thus the skills needed.

Some workers will need to upgrade their skills while some will have to fully reskill.

The scale of needed skills varies. Digital skills are needed, but not only. Technical skills for the installation of, e.g. electrical equipment, will remain. And while some workers will need to upgrade their skills, some will have to fully reskill.

Without anticipation, the risk of job losses on a bigger scale is real. The question is if the countries equipped their training systems in the right way. Have social partners been involved to make sure the skills education and training providers deliver are fit for the transition? Are enough funds in the National Recovery and Resilience Plans attributed to the right policies that accompany workers and companies.

The current skills shortages could undermine the success of the green transition, but the risk reached beyond that. Companies are less competitive without the right workforce.

Social partners make the difference

The success element of social partnership lies in its proximity to the real problems that exists. The biggest handicap for Visegrad countries is the lack of social dialogue at sectoral level due to the lack of employers’ organisations.

This does not avoid that company level consultations should take place in order to find solutions, adapted to the needs of the company, to provide answers coming forth from the green and digital transformation.

The added value of social partnership lies in the common interest of workers and employers. For example, in the Just Transition Coalition for the automotive industry employers, trade unions and other organisations joined forces and called the European Commission to look at the social and employment impact of the ‘Fit for 55’ measures by calling for:

  1. Mapping of employment impacts at company, regional and national levels to ensure effective skills intelligence and anticipation of change
  2. Policy support and exchanges of best practices: the extension of the Just Transition Platform to the scope of the European Green Deal.
  3. Transition planning and social dialogue, including negotiated transition plans at company, regional and sectoral levels, and strengthening of social dialogue through binding social conditionality on access to EU funds.
  4. Adequate resources for active labour market policies, including retraining and upskilling, through a dedicated fund for the mobility ecosystem.