This film was created as a product of the „Green@Work“ project. The aim is to make the results of the discussion easily accessible to a wide audience. The film was produced by Leuchtturm Entertainment.
Project Results | Final meeting of the Steering Committee (28.-29.11.2022)
In spite of the various difficulties (pandamic, Ukraine war…) we accomplished all our key targets. For the target groups involved in the project in Germany, Italy and Croatia we got and documented an overview of technical possibilities of transformation in the chemical industry as a basis for the development of a socially accewptable strategy that could be implemented in the area of conflicting interests between government – employers – environmental organizations. Recommendations for action for the different levels of the national trade unions uo to the operational level.
We also received the following key results for the target group of European social partner organizsations (industriALL Europe) and national social partner organizations: For all partners the project made an important contribution to shaping the transformation in the chemical and energy industries. The project contributes to making the „European Green Deal“ known and to pointing out, deepning and further developing ways of transformation.
Through their existing involvement in different networks, the partner organizations involved in the project can and will disseminate the measures at European, national and regional level. The successful realized conferences primarily offer specialist employee representatives from the three countries and representatives of the European trade union industriALL the oppertunity for direct contact and exchange. The participants in the project act as multipliers.
Through the transfer and exchange between the project countries and the analysis of the same, nationally existing measures could be examined for their transferability. This increased the multiplier effect and at the same time could serve as a blueprint for interested other countries.
Finally: The announced project results open the change to disseminate models of good practice and to use synergy effects at European level.
Trade unions and the transformation of the energy industry
The main conference in Hanover (September 13-16, 2022) focused on the joint development of demands. Following points were compiled from the first expert online meeting in March 2022.
(1) Social dialogue on the transformation of the energy industry The Italian Manifesto for Energy Transformation was adopted in 2021 under the government of Mario Draghi and contains guidelines but also action steps for a successful socio-ecological transformation. The action steps are described in detail; however, only how, but not when, they are to be implemented was specified. This is also due to the multiple crises that currently need to be addressed. The manifesto is the result of a trialogue between social partners, politics and business. The latest collective bargaining negotiations were also guided by the contents of the manifesto, as individual points concern important trade union practices. The Manifesto has laid a good foundation for further discussions between the state, business and the social partners.
In Germany, discussion circles are formed on an ad hoc basis, which are then established and continued for the ongoing trialogue. These are several circles acting simultaneously. There has not yet been a consolidation of the discussion results, as in a manifesto. Nevertheless, there are also implications for trade union concerns, such as collective bargaining. In the German energy industry, however, collective bargaining is about more than pay. Factors such as price explosions, supply and livelihood security are also coming into focus as a result of the desired green transformation. The social partners‘ cries for help are loud. Policymakers must respond in an improved manner.
In Croatia, the topic of green transformation is not on the agenda of the social dialogue. There is still too little information and too little interest. A large part of the employers are not interested in further training in this area. In addition, the unions are small and compete with each other. The employers primarily pursue their own interests and the trade unions try to participate in legislation and in the education and training of skilled workers, but are mainly concerned with securing jobs. Thus, there are hardly any platforms for action at the national level. For smaller countries, such as Croatia, these must be created at the EU level. But even at the EU level, Croatia, like many smaller countries, receives little attention. The EU-wide green transformation is a good goal. Croatia has many good professionals and has a lot of potential, but it lacks the financial resources for training to use new technologies. The problem is that there is an unfair distribution of support and finances in the EU. The demand is the same for all, the small countries have to keep up, although they would need much more support than the big ones.
(2) Multiple crises have an impact on transformation processes The year 2022 has brought with it special challenges. Multiple crises form an increasingly powerful variable for transformation that cannot be defined. An example of this is also the sanctions against Russia announced by Ursula von der Leyen. The crisis situations (Corona pandemic, war in Ukraine) have caused many changes, making it impossible to keep certain plans of green transformation; or to (have to) focus on other issues selectively. In Italy, for example, the plans of decarbonization will not be kept. This is a common problem for all (European) industrialized countries.
(3) Green Deal as a pan-European task Supply chains have to be strengthened again within Europe or sites have to be brought back to Europe. One example is the supply of medicines. Even before the pandemic, there was a shortage of medical supplies because a large part of the production of active ingredients had moved to India and the production supply chain was not functioning properly. A (mainly) European production means chain could insure more stability. In addition, there will be a big fight for markets in the next few years, with China being very assertive. However, products that would otherwise be produced in China or India can be produced in an environmentally friendly way within the EU. The European Green Deal can only be achieved as an overall concept for Europe. Alternative projects such as Desert-Tec, should be brought back into focus.
Trade Unions and the Transformation of the Chemical Industry
The main conference in Hanover (September 13-16, 2022) focused on the joint development of demands. Following points were compiled from the previous expert meeting in Rome.
(1) Chemical industry as a key position 95% of all products in Germany are based on chemically manufactured basic components. This gives the chemical industry a major key position for the green transformation: if these basic components can be produced in a climate-neutral way, there would also be climate-neutral end products. The holistic approach is also being pursued at the European level. Unlike the energy industry, the chemical industry is under pressure from EU chemicals legislation. For example, in Italy, the company Novamont develops sustainable and green products that originate from the chemical industry and are classified as „chemical,“ thus making it impossible to use them in the food sector. In Germany, potato starch was used to produce wallpaper paste. A lengthy EU approval process led to cultivation in Canada. Research capacities are migrating out of Europe! Thus Europe cannot remain a solution provider! In Croatia, there are no laws on the national level that hinder the green transformation. However, the EU legislation has to be implemented first. One problem in Italy is the high hurdles to get financial support for green projects in the chemical industry. In some EU-wide competitions for innovative ideas, companies were not even able to participate due to problems in the administrative structures. Securing funding for innovation projects through an EU-level competition is extremely challenging and uncertain for small countries. Targeted financial support is needed.
(2) Chemical industry as employer of the future? In Croatia, the number of workers in the chemical industry will not be a problem. The focus must be on education and training of the skilled workers so that they can continue to work in a transformed sector. Financial resources are needed for this – they must come from the EU.
In Italy, there are mainly small and medium-sized companies. Education plays an important role there, too, because there are a lot of specialized requirements in the different companies. In June, the collective agreement in the chemical industry was renewed and the importance of training as well as further education was emphasized. Qualifications are to take place bilaterally on a company and national level. In this way, skilled workers are to be prepared for the new conditions on the labor market and at the same time jobs are to be secured even in the transformed sector. It also requires digital training of employees, which must also be approached in a social partnership manner.
In Germany, the social dialog discusses a number of training places to be offered each year. Filling these places has proved difficult in recent years. The chemical sector is not considered an attractive workplace for young people. In order to counteract this, chemistry lessons must be made more attractive at school. Within another EU project with the Czech Republic and Spain, demographic problems in the chemical industry were counteracted by making the chemical industry more attractive as a workplace for women.
Across the EU, it can be noted that the larger the companies, the more they plan for the shortage of skilled workers and the qualification requirements resulting from the green transformation. Thus, problems arise especially for small and medium-sized companies. Also because further education and training are always tied to financial resources. Here above all the education sector and thus also the trade unions are in demand!
18. Mai 2022
Shaping the chemical transition in Europe socially
Maike Niggemann (industriALL Europe)
industriALL has passed a manifesto on social structural change, which primarily contains 5 demands: (1) transformation measures must be socially acceptable, (2) financial resources must be made available, (3) collective bargaining and social dialogue must be strengthened throughout Europe, (4) company rights and obligations must be clearly formulated and it needs (5) qualification measures in the sense of lifelong learning.
The overarching goal of the unions is to achieve the climate targets while preserving jobs. This represents an enormous challenge; so it’s not just the large number of jobs affected, it also requires various measures to maintain and replace them. An analysis of the labor market in the chemical and energy sector is fundamentally important for this.
Sectoral transformation paths with strong social components are needed. A technological path of transformation for the chemical industry is currently being followed, from which necessary laws, subsidies and social measures are derived.
It is important to remember that today not only current jobs are being negotiated, but also those for tomorrow’s generation.
„The transition has already started and is not in the future – we are in the middle of it and if we want to make it happen, we can’t wait to make it socially responsible now.“ Maike Niggemann
The transformation depends on government support. However, it must be clear that all this support is linked to social aspects. No measures may be adopted that do not take the preservation of jobs into account. The promotion of social dialogue in the individual countries, but also throughout Europe, is therefore essential for successful social structural change.
Dialogue is not equally possible in all European countries. On the one hand, there are no structures or employers‘ associations are fragmented. This is why events like these are so important for international exchange and pan-European strategic planning.
Stefano Soro (DG Grow)
The transformation also brings with it a change in jobs and it is important to invest in education and training. Therefore, the project “Pact for skills” was launched at European level with a total of 11 partnerships in various industrial sectors.
The chemical industry faces special challenges here. There is a lack of qualified people for the chemical labor market.
“An American study assumes that in 2026 25% of workers in the US chemical sector will retire and these jobs cannot be filled. This forecast can also be made for Europe.” Stefano Soro
The special requirements of the respective sector must meet the transition paths through co-determination of employees and social partners. This requires large financial investments.
The basic goals of the green transformation should be: Introduction of renewable energies and increasing the development autonomy of Europe.
Romina Mura (Parliamentary Labour Comission Chamber of Deputies – President)
The paradigm of the „Green Deal“ is based on the fact that an energy transformation must also be a social transformation. During and especially after the pandemic, this awareness-raising paradigm has evolved in Italy. Since the COVID crisis has shown that the development to date has led to uncertainties. In Italy there has not been too little commitment in recent years, but with a wrong focus.
Too much reliance was placed on passive political approaches. Active or activating politics, such as the transformation of production processes, were neglected.
As an institutional representation, it is aware of the responsibility that is borne. And it is aware that different instruments have to be developed in order to create new perspectives on the challenges. However, this can and must only work in social dialogue with the trade unions.
„It’s nice to see that we’re on the same wavelength and are daring to take a common European look at the transformation.“ Romina Mura
17. Mai 2022
Start of conference in Rome (16.-18.May 2022)
It was with great pleasure that we were able to start our first face-to-face conference in the project yesterday. Daniele Bailo (ULITEC) and Michael Wolters (IG BCE) welcomed the conference participants in Rome in the afternoon.
With a first lecture, Grazia Gullo outlined the current situation in Italy and presented the PNRR ED ENERGIA in detail. The PNRR political plan is the Italian response to the economic shock experienced by the COVID Pandemic. PNRR includes measures in the fields of digital revolution, ecological transformation and social inclusion. The focus is on women and young people as target groups, as well as the desired regional equality of opportunity between the regions in north and south Italy.
Today we look forward to our main conference day with our guests from the European Comission, industriALL Europe and the employer representatives.
Emma Argutyan (DG ECEG) and Davide Calabró (ENI Versalis) opened the main conference day on the question what conditions are necessary for a successful transformation of the chemical industry in Europe.
The current challenges require a creative solution: production chains that are complex and also very heterogeneous must be brought together. It is necessary to use existing infrastructures in order to achieve transformation successes as quickly as possible. The aim should be to create a cycle process in which there are no longer any single-use products, but where the focus is clearly on the reusability of products.
„With disposable products, it is not the material or the chemical production that is the problem – but the people and the common mindset of the disposable society.“ said Davide Calabró.
The current developments and challenges can only be met by society as a whole. It also means that management can only move forward if they work together with unions and that politics can only be successful if independent scientific studies are taken into account.