PERC-FES Workshop on just transition

The joint PERC-FES Workshop on just transition "Towards sustainable economy and ecological transformation – What is the role for Trade unions?" was organised on the 19th of November 2021 virtually via ZOOM platform.

The PERC, in cooperation with FES Competence Centre "Future of Work" organised a workshop for the trade unionists engaged in the climate change and just transition agenda from economic and social departments from PERC region, with particular focus for SEE and NIS organisations.
The workshop aimed to: (1) raise awareness about climate change consequences on the world of work; just transitions processes; (2) map the situation in the region; (3) increase participation of trade unions in just transition programmes at national level and climate change national action plans; including the issue of just transition on trade union agenda.

In several sessions with international and European trade union experts participants debated just transition agenda, challenges and opportunities for working people and unions in the region.
Alison Tate, Director Economic and Social Department, ITUC, outlined the global trade union agenda for just transition, social justice and New Social Contract to build industrial transition.
EU Green Deal was presented by Ludovic Voet, ETUC Confederal Secretary, together with some specific initiative by EU social partners;
Samantha Smith, Just Transition Centre Director, presented its actions and initiatives, including some agreements at sectoral and national level, also from countries in transitions (e.g. Romania or Bulgaria), while Montserrat Mir, Just Transition Centre, informed about some examples of just transition plans and role of unions in addressing the challenge of restructuring energy sector in Brazil, Colombia, South Africa, Indonesia and Spain.

The workshop facilitated implementation of the ITUC World Congress programme to foster just transition and to build New Social Contract: the massive and growing global inequalities demand just transition to a digitalized and low carbon economy; but transformation in the world of work takes place in the framework of just transition, with affected groups of population, workers first of all, being on board; governments must raise their ambition and ensure investment in jobs and just transitions and finally the fight against climate change requires investment in sustainable and low carbon technologies, but also in social dialog on development of inclusive economic and sound industrial policies and in stakeholder dialogs in vulnerable regions.

At the same time, the post-COVID recovery is an opportunity to accelerate a just transition towards a low-carbon world. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the multiple links between public health and the environment and made it evident that a healthy life and workplace and productive economies depend on a healthy environment. As economies restart, there is an opportunity to develop public and private policies to address the current climate change crisis gradually and foster the transition to a green economy. Through social dialogue, governments, workers’, and employers’ organisations have a key opportunity to forge a strong consensus and broad-based support for a sustainable recovery that promotes decent work, resilient enterprises and workplaces, and environmental sustainability. Yet, for many of countries in PERC, the state of social dialogue is poor and the level of trust towards policy makers is undermined by years of neo-liberal experiments.

The fight for a just transition is supported by long-time union demands for strong social protection and quality public services programmes (health care, income security, social services, education) and workers need sustainable industrial policies with strong social protection and support for workers guided by social dialogue. The importance of strengthening social dialogue was highlighted during the meeting together with the importance of promoting greener industries and green jobs, creation of sustainable industrial policies and just transition national plans to assist workers affected by industrial transformation. Still many challenges exist as concerning collective bargaining on local and national levels on agreements to guarantee transition rights for affected by restructuring workers.
Some examples of national trade union campaigning were presented, such as

Just transition an COP26
Just transition center