(23 December 2022) As EPSU pointed out in the briefing for the last EPSU Congress digitalisation has the potential to positively transform public services and the jobs of public service workers but it also poses risks.
Since the Congress EPSU has been involved in several initiatives on different aspects of digitalisation with the aim of supporting unions deal with the potential downside and to influence the direction of digitalisation. The EPSU workshop on 8 December 2022 was an opportunity to take stock of work done and to orientate future work. A brief report of the workshop discussion and the main presentations are available on the website in the section on digitalisation.
The workshop discussion illustrated that getting to grips with digitalisation remains a challenge. As one speaker well put it ‘we don’t know what we don’t know’. Trade unions need to know however about what data is being collected, where the data is stored, who has access to it and for what purpose, and what happens to the data afterwards. Big Tech has too much influence on the political and democratic processes that are shaping the direction of digitalisation. According for example to Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), three quarters of Google and Meta lobbyists (those that either hold or held European Parliament accreditation) have formerly worked for a governmental body at the EU or Member State level. While this type of lobbying can be addressed through stronger public interest regulation and controls, we also need to create trustworthy public digital services that can counter-balance market power.
Together with PSI, EPSU will continue in 2023 to work on digitalisation, to push for digital public services and democratic controls, to make better use of the GDPR as well as to provide support for unions to deal with digitalisation in the workplace, including through PSI’s Our Digital Future.
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