More than one hundred trade union leaders and representatives active in multinational companies met in Brussels on 15 and 16 February to reflect on the urgent need for strengthening workers’ voice as a prerequisite for building resilient companies in times of change of an unprecedented scale and pace.

Faced with the massive challenges of the green and digital transitions in a context of multiple crises (inflation, energy, global trade, war…), European industries are at a crossroads. It is estimated that the jobs of 25 million industrial workers will move, change or even disappear as European societies decarbonise. Just, fair and inclusive transitions can only happen if workers are on board: Nothing about us without us!

Over two days of panel debates and workshops, trade unionists and policymakers discussed strategies around key workers’ priorities. The conference concluded with a unanimous call for urgent action to deliver:

An ambitious investment and industrial plan for Europe with social conditionalities to ensure that public funding which supports company transitions comes with conditions on quality jobs, worker rights and trade union rights;

A stronger European Works Council Directive with robust rules to ensure effective information and consultation as well as enforcement through access to justice and dissuasive sanctions;

A progressive approach to protecting people and the planet along global supply chains through the adoption of the long-awaited Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive and EU Regulation on forced labour;

An improved EU legal framework fostering corporate transparency, reversing the current trend to weaken or delay public ESG reporting obligations.

Judith Kirton-Darling, General Secretary of industriAll Europe:

“These are challenging times: there is massive change in our industries while the sirens of austerity are singing, and political uncertainties are growing in several corners of Europe. With just four months before the EU elections, we are calling on all industrial workers and trade unions to stand up for their jobs and industries by voting for candidates that support good industrial jobs and democracy at work. Without the voice and the vote of the workers, there will be no thriving strategic industries in Europe with high quality wages and working conditions!”

Isabelle Barthès, Deputy General Secretary of industriAll Europe:

“There is an urgent need to strengthen the voice of workers and their trade unions in companies. From the shopfloor to the boardroom, from local committees to European Works Councils, social dialogue is a prerequisite for responsible strategic decisions that respect people and the planet all along the supply chain, while shaping a solid future for companies undergoing massive change. IndustriAll Europe and its members commit to playing their full part. But we recall that bold EU action is urgently needed to ensure a robust legal framework with extended rights for workers and trade unions”.

Photos of the event