Worker participation helps companies and their transition

Workers often have specific knowledge on how to save materials, electricity and heat. This knowledge must be harvested.

Workers often have specific knowledge on how to save materials, electricity and heat. This knowledge must be harvested. It can, among other things, contribute to the transition to a circular economy which requires new ways of thinking and business models, and in the development of green and socially sustainable procurement and tendering.

According to FH’s survey, in the past five years, 37% of the respondents have experienced that their workplace has used their green proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

As shown in figure 19, there are many who experience that the green proposals have other benefits than just emissions reductions – they also reduce waste, increase recycling and costs. There are many side benefits[19].

Figure 19 also shows that green proposals have improved health and safety at work in many instances. In addition to contributing to reduce emissions and consumption of materials, worker participation can therefore also contribute to improved health and safety at work and – as it can be expected – a greater sense of ownership of the green transition at the workplace.

Knowledge and capacity

A barrier to worker participation can be that the company or the individual worker has limited information about, for example, the carbon footprint of production or which possibilities there are to reduce it.

In fact, the Climate Partnership for Production has found that only 11% of workers know the greenhouse gas emissions of their company. Figure 20 shows that this challenge is, not surprisingly, greatest among smaller companies.

With such limited knowledge, it becomes difficult to come up with green ideas.

FH’s climate proposals are levers

A number of FH’s proposals in the preceding chapters can strengthen knowledge and capacity, thereby creating better preconditions for worker participation.

This applies to, among others, 125% technology deductions for SMEs, the development of standardized tools for companies and demonstration and knowledge-sharing in the building & construction sector. Worker participation should be incorporated into these and other initiatives.

At the same time, worker participation should be strengthened through other initiatives, in both the private and public sectors.

Worker participation in the private and public sectors

The green transition and meeting the requirements and guidelines in the coming climate plans will require new innovative solutions in both the private and the public sectors.

In the private sector, a strengthened cooperation between workers and management on the green transition was part of most collective agreements during the collective bargaining round in 2020. 

In the public sector, the involvement of knowledge and suggestions from the workers can contribute to the phasing in of green and socially sustainable public procurement and tenders, as proposed by FH above.

An analysis from the National Centre for Public Sector Innovation (COI) shows that in 92% of public innovations, the workers play a key role.

danish trade union confederation

The innovation skills of workers should be targeted to develop green solutions, among other things by giving COI a separate focus on climate and funds to launch projects and knowledge-sharing or within the framework of new knowledge- and information centres.

Support should be granted to workplaces to become certified in energy management systems, including the help of guidance and benchmarking from the Business Guide at and the Business Hubs (Erhvervshusene).

Specific goals and action plans, energy working groups with representatives from other occupational groups or ‘idea competitions’ are all initiatives that can be implemented at the workplaces. It would be useful to include certification costs in the extended research- and innovation allowance.

FH will establish an “Worker Panel on Climate Change”

FH must also lead the way. We want to contribute to worker participation in the green transition and to develop good ways to use the ideas of Danish workers.

FH will therefore establish an “Worker’s Panel on Climate Change” consisting of workers who, in their jobs, work to promote the green transition as well as other experts. At the same time, FH’s youth fund will continue to fund activities that aim to promote the green transition, just as we have done in 2020.

Box 13: FH proposes

  1. Workers and public leaders must be green drivers of innovation
  2. Workplaces should be supported in becoming certified in energy management systems (such as ISO 50001)
  3. FH will establish an “Worker’s Panel on Climate Change”
  4. FH will involve young trade unionists in the green transition

Literature reference

[19]   See “More Green Jobs – an inspirational catalogue for a green transition and more jobs through employee participation and local cooperation LO”, 2014