Worker participation is fundamental for the green transition. Competence gained from specific experiences and knowledge regarding materials and routines allow workers to assist their workplace in the right direction.
The workers’ three roles
Workers will have three important roles in their participation for the green transition. Firstly, workers will implement measures in their everyday work – installing charging stations, building wind turbines and renovating buildings. Secondly, workers will identify the potentials for reduced emissions – inventing new business models, rethinking processes as well as inventing and exporting new solutions.
Lastly, workers and employers will have to join their efforts to meet the green transition in their everyday lives – sorting waste, observing dietary guidelines and reconsider their means of transport.
Additionally, workers will have a role in further developing their skills and knowledge through education beyond qualification in order to keep up with the demands for new, greener solutions.
Worker participation in the industrial sector
Part of this collective agreement was a protocol on the green transition, recognizing the need for greater cooperation between employers and employees in the industrial sector.
The Confederation of Danish Industry represents the employers’ interests for over 18,000 enterprises, and is the largest employer- and profession-organization in Denmark. CO-industri negotiates on behalf of 230,000 workers from the industrial sector together with nine different trade unions.
That way, the agreement embraces a great number of employers and employees in the private sector, in both smaller and larger businesses.
The collective agreement’s protocol on the green transition introduces several measures to involve workers in the realization of the green transition. The measures include:
- Recognizing the need to use new technologies to improve the efficiency and development of Danish production, and taking advantage of Denmark’s already leading role in the transition to strengthen the enterprises’ opportunities in the global market.
- The preparation, through further education in order to meet the demands from the green transition.
- Systematic work between employers and employees to reach the climate goals. The cooperation is to be followed up on by TekSam and work councils in the time to come, securing the companies the best basis possible for cooperation on the green transition.
In the wake of the agreement’s implementation, chairman of 3F Industri and vice-chairman of CO-industri Mads Andresen confirms that the emphasis on worker participation is based on the belief that all good ideas should be considered to reach the best decision.
Anders Just Pedersen, assistant director in The Confederation of Danish Industry has expressed that while the agreement does not officially change the decision-making process, it is to make sure that the decisions are made on a more well-informed ground, and that the transition does not happen in a way that is not supported by the workers.
In addition to the environmental, main objectives for the green transition, there are also important social and economic aspects to take into consideration.
The world-embracing sustainable mission has led to the emergence of a global, green economy. This green economy brings both challenges and opportunities for nations to improve their international economic opportunities. Efforts to implement new, greener technologies could be an important opportunity for Danish industry.
Studies[JH1] investigating the connections EU-countries’ global competitiveness and the level of “green-ness” in their economies have found that greener economies have clear advantages and higher degrees of competitiveness. The green economies prove to have a greater performance [JH2] in terms of business sophistication, innovation and through a better global market-position.
A “green economy” could be described with characteristics like the production of green products, sustainable production cycles, cleaner technologies, reduced pollution and a circular economy.
Saving resources, saving money
Green adjustments at the workplace for resource savings could also contribute to saving money. Resource-saving measures could be to turn off lights and machines at night time, motion-activated switches, using solar hot water heaters and switching to reusable cups. Studies [JH3] have shown how minor resource saving adjustments could have great monetary benefits in addition to benefiting the environment.
The social aspects of the green transition are pronounced in ongoing public initiatives, debates and discussions on just transition. One crucial aim is to secure that the green transition does not only produce more jobs, but better jobs.
“Green proposals from workers have shown to improve safety and health at work, as well as establishing a greater sense of ownership to the transition among the workers.” Bente Sorgenfrey, Vice-President the Danish Trade Union Confederation
In this way, commitments from the Danish industrial sector to strengthen the cooperation between employers and employees, could establish an improved working environment and jobs of better quality.
A report[JH1] from 2008 by a joint UNEP, ILO, IOE and ITUC Green Jobs Initiative emphasizes the importance of reviewing the social aspects of the transition in addition to the environmental ones. The report points to benefits in terms of workplace involvement, worker representation, wage levels and skills – but also in terms of decent jobs, which should include good career prospects, job security, health, safety and workers’ rights.
An important point in terms of securing good career prospects, and also one for the workers to meet increasing demands on green competence is through offering and informing them on further education. As well as developing skills to meet the demands of the global market and the labor market, increased competence on green matters will also lead to better, green solutions, making the corporations more sustainable in the environmental sense.
[JH1]Worldwatch Institute. (2008). Green Jobs: Towards decent work in a sustainable, low-carbon world. Retrieved from http://old.adapt.it/adapt-indice-a-z/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/unep_2008.pdf
[JH1]Gavric, O. & Mitrovic, D. (2019). Development of Green Economy and Competitiveness of EU Countries: Level Empirical Analysis. Economic Growth and Development. Retrieved from http://aspace.agrif.bg.ac.rs/bitstream/handle/123456789/5204/5201.pdf?sequence=1
[JH2]Padilla-Lozano, C. P. & Collazzo, P. (2021). Corporate Social Responsibility, Green Innovation and Competitiveness – Causality in Manufacturing. Corporate Social Responsibility. Retrieved from https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/CR-12-2020-0160/full/pdf
[JH3]Blum, S., Buckland, M., Sack, T. L. & Fivenson, D. (2021). Greening the office: Saving resources, saving money, and educating our patients. International Journal of Women’s Dermatology. Retrieved from https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/S2352647520301118?token=0D151161A47A75F0C380788592FA622FC3DEA186E0661E00D3A0E4BF29AE26197EC12CE0BAF11B31611A9D96213D6243&originRegion=eu-west-1&originCreation=20210915125627
[JH1]Industriens Overenskomst og Industriens Funktionæroverenskomst. (2020). Protokollat om Den grønne omstilling. Retrieved from https://okfakta.dk/sites/okfakta.dk/files/media/document/OK20%20-%20underskrevet%20forlig.pdf