Transport and Mobility – major takeaways from joint ETF/IndustriALL Europe Conference

Last week, the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) and industriAll Europe concluded their joint project on building a just transition to smart and sustainable mobility. A report on the conference and further links can be found here.

Participants from across Europe discussed the study’s findings and reflected on their own on the ground experiences.

From the discussion, five major points can be taken away regarding Just Transition processes in general:

  1. Data: a surprising amount of data about the specifics of various industries is NOT assessed or severely lacking in detail and scope. How many trucks in the EU are running without cargo, how many workers are needed for renewable energies in the construction industry? Without good information, policy makers will have a hard time creating meaningful, well-functioning policies. Workers have the ability, deep rooted knowledge and experience in their respective companies and industries to provide a lot of the practical data needed.
  2. Policy: ambitious climate policy is essential for ensuring a positive future for all. Only policies built for purpose will actually accomplish this. Without full and in-depth inclusion of worker input, Just Transition policies cannot truly succeed. Trade unions stand ready, willing and able to take part in consultation and social dialogue at all levels. These policies must also be adequately funded in order to have the expected effects. In addition to its own funding, the public sector and politics’ role is to create dependable frameworks for companies to act within.
  3. Money: the private sector must play its part. Not all costs of transitions can be deferred or deflected onto public funding. Time and again, companies and industry leaders expound on their innovative force, transformational capacity, technological advancements and entrepreneurial spirit. If that is all true, then it’s time for the private sector to put its money where its mouth is and invest its own money in a future for us all!
  4. Solutions: in many, if not most, cases, one size fits all approaches may not be the best options for achieving Just Transitions. In these cases, workers and their unions can offer expert and detailed knowledge to companies and governments at all levels. They can also contribute directly with practical solutions born from daily, hands-on experiences in their workplaces. This is a foundation on which Just Transitions can be built successfully.
  5. No industry is an island: if the conference has made anything abundantly clear, it is that transitions must be thought of holistically and in interconnected, rather than in silos wearing blinders. The same holds true of EU vis-à-vis global policy making. The future of mobility is not only a question of which vehicle is used, but also of the infrastructure, the raw materials and supply chains involved, the workers producing and operating the vehicles, safety regulations and much more. Incorporating the expert knowledge of workers in all these industries is crucial to the success of a Just Transition in mobility.

Together, ETF and IndustriALL Europe have clearly demonstrated their ability to commit to all of the above. Workers and their trade unions must stand at the beginning, front and centre of any Just Transition planning for decent work and a liveable world.