Getting to grips with digitalisation
Digitalisation has the potential to positively transform public services and the jobs of public service workers. Quicker and easier access to services and increased participation of citizens can be combined with better quality jobs as repetitive work is replaced with more fulfilling tasks. However, trade unions must be involved in the transformation process not just to ensure that workers have their fare share of the benefits of digitalisation but also to deal with the potential downside. This briefing, produced for EPSU's 2019 Congress, highlights some of the work done on this issue in recent years and sets out the current priorities.
On Friday, 17 June, the EU social partners for central governments – TUNED led by EPSU for the trade union side and European Public and EUPAE for the employers - reached a landmark agreement on digitalisation.
At its Executive Committee meeting in June, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) agreed a resolution setting out progress with the draft directive on improving conditions in digital labour platforms. While the directive goes some way towards meeting key ETUC demands, the Confederation is concerned to ensure that there will a presumption of employment that digital platforms will have to rebut rather than a presumption that will have to be asserted by individual workers. The first draft report in the European Parliament, published in May, supports the ETUC in this but a range of
EPSU is involved in an eight-country project (digiqualpub) that is looking at the impact of digitalisation on public services and public service workers with a focus on public administration, health and electricity. The eight countries covered are: Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Spain. If you are from these countries then you can participate in the survey and encourage your members and other workers to complete the questionnaire which is available in all eight languages on the project website.
Public services union Fórsa has welcomed a new framework agreed between unions and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform allowing civil servants to apply to work “blended” arrangements – combining home/remote work with normal working. Workers whose requests are denied have the right to a review with the aim to resolve the issues that led to the refusal. The framework places a responsibility on managers to ensure a “fair and effective” system with strong supports, staff development, communications, and effective performance management. And it says there can be no change to a worker’s
The European Trade Union Institute organised a conference on 24 March to discuss how collective bargaining can be used to regulate the use of algorithms at the workplace. Along with a number of European experts, there were contributions from national trade union representatives from Poland, Spain, Sweden, Italy, the UK and France. The debates included discussion of the legal frameworks and also how practically collective agreements – even existing clauses – could be used to protect workers’ rights. There were also examples of new and revised agreements that include specific provisions on