The Fourth Industrial Revolution is knocking on our door. It is going to radically change employment and the nature of work in the coming years. Our economies must prepare for a storm of unprecedented technical and socio-economic changes that will affect labour markets and will radically transform our relationship with work. Here are the 10 most significant trends triggered by this digital revolution.
On 7 June the US Senate approved a reform of the law on dangerous substances. With this vote the regulation of chemical substances will be reformed in a significant manner for the first time in 40 years. The text pays more attention to the environmental and health issues. Hitherto, economic criteria have largely outweighed any others.
On the eve of the European Football Championships the French NGO Collectif éthique sur l’étiquette has just published a report that lifts the lid on the commercial strategies of the world’s three leading sports equipment manufacturers. To improve their brand image, which was dented in the early 1990s by revelations about their subcontractors’ use of child labour – especially in making footballs – Nike, Adidas and Puma adopted codes of conduct and improved the transparency of their supply chain. Even though the most abusive practices appear to have been ended, however, workers’ wages do not always provide them with decent living standards.
The latest issue of HesaMag, the ETUI periodical on health and safety at work, came out in early June. It contains a special report entitled ‘Construction workers at the mercy of social dumping’.
Strengthening its social dimension is undoubtedly the key challenge for the European Union in the coming years. To measure what progress has been made in this respect, evidence-based tools are required. The Bertelsmann Foundation, the largest private non-profit foundation in Germany, presented the most recent findings of two social policy monitoring instruments, the Social Justice Index and the Reform Barometer, at an ETUI monthly forum on 2 June.
Here are the most important developments at European and member state level from the May issue of the Collective Bargaining newsletter:
At the latest monthly forum, François Ghesquière presented the findings of his research on wage inequality. Ghesquière employed a cross-national comparison of the situation in different Western European countries in order to assess the impact of institutional configurations on wage inequality.
On 25 May 2016, six organisations, including the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), gathered together in Amsterdam to sign a Covenant on a new "Roadmap on carcinogens". This voluntary action scheme aims to raise awareness about the risks of carcinogenic exposure in the workplace and to exchange good practices. The Roadmap, drawn up by the Covenant’s signatories, was adopted at a conference organized by the Dutch EU Presidency on the prevention of work-related cancer. Esther Lynch, ETUC Confederal secretary in charge of health and safety at work, took part in the debate alongside four ETUI researchers.
This year’s gathering of trade union-related researchers took place in Lisbon and Sesimbra on 11 to 13 May. The eighth annual conference of the TURI network was organised by the ETUI in cooperation with its Portuguese members - the Centre for Social Studies (CES) of the University of Coimbra and the Instituto Ruben Rolo (IRR) - and with the kind support of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Portugal and Montepio Geral – Associação Mutualista.
The state of the labour movement in the US and Europe and the efforts of trade unions to organise migrant workers and attract more young workers were the big themes of this year’s Transatlantic Social Dialogue meeting, organised by the European Trade Union Institute, Hans Böckler Stiftung and the Worker Institute of Cornell University.
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