Conference on Worker Representatives and the Green Transition

On the 17 November, FIU, the internal educational system for all member organisations of the Danish Trade Union Confederation arranged a conference in Helsingør. The conference was aimed at establishing the roles for worker representatives in enabling the green transition. The time to act is now, and FIU’s conference was an important contribution to the process of
bringing the transition to the workplaces.

Participating were enthusiastic representatives from sustainable enterprises, the trade union movement, and worker representatives, eager to discuss worker participation for the green transition. On top of the agenda was social dialogue at all levels, and the sharing of knowledge and experiences.

The green link between workers, employers and the trade unions

Setting the scene for the conference was Lizette Risgaard, president of the Danish Trade Union Confederation. She explained how FH works with a just, green transition, and the importance of involving the world of work.

We must create security for the workers whose job functions are vulnerable to the transition. A means for this security is the access to upskill and reskill to adjust and prepare for changes intodays’ job functions and for new, green jobs.

Worker representatives are the link between the workers, the employers and the trade unions in sharing the suggestions and concerns of the workers. The aim of the conference was to show just how the representatives best could play their role as this link for the transition.

Learning from experience

Bo Rasmussen, former City Manager of Gladsaxe municipality, and Peter Burchard from KLS Pureprint were there to share their experiences on successfully involving all parts of a unit towards a more climate friendly future

Rasmussen explained how Gladsaxe municipality used the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as a baseline throughout all its work. A large degree of cooperation between the public and the private made it possible to include sustainability in all their projects, rather than establishing one specific office working with climate topics.

Burchard explained how KLS Pureprint made the digital transition – initially a threat to the printing sector – into an opportunity to go green. Through consulting with their workers, and tracing back their chains of production, the enterprise got rid of hazardous materials and found the best solutions to become carbon neutral.

The day was followed up a number of experienced actors representing enterprises from different parts of working life, who in one strategic way or another had actively involved their workers for a more environmentally sustainable future.

Amongst them were a green cafeteria, focusing on ecology, local production and minimizing food waste, and a regional hospital that had assigned climate ambassadors drawing on their daily work to promote climate measures. Another case was a coffee chain promoting social sustainability through buying their coffee based on quality rather than market price, and drawing on their workers’ different competences through climate panels.

These examples of worker involvement showed the importance of worker participation in the green transition in creating value for companies, workers and last but not least the climat

Discussing the role of the worker representatives

With these different cases in mind the participants discussed different education and operation oriented, strategic, and innovative roles for worker representatives.

Recurrent themes were the creation of arenas such as seminars, courses and education where knowledge can be established on how to work with sustainability, the promotion of goals at the workplaces, and the use of ambassadors or enthusiasts as promoters for the transition at the workplaces.

Another important take was to gain an understanding of what exact challenges different workplaces or sectors are facing – making it easier to understand what problems need to be solved.