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Key Recommendations & Outcomes of the Trade Union Forum on Digitalisation and the Future of Work

09 March 2017

In February 2017, the TUAC held a Trade Union Forum on Digitalisation and the digital economy in Paris. Starting with an internal trade union exchange with over 80 national, sector-level and global unions’ representatives, it proceeded with panel discussions with the OECD, other stakeholders and experts on the impact of digitalisation on economies, the applicability of the just transition framework on technological change, business models and regulatory challenges in the digital economy and the creation of non-standard work in the online platform economy.

Key recommendations

The key recommendations that were drawn from the meeting are calling for a policy mix towards an inclusive diffusion of the benefits of digitalisation and regulatory responses to some issues arising in the digital economy. They further illustrate why and how a just transition should be applied to the introduction of new technologies. Given uncertainties on the scale and speed of change, the recommendations set out in which areas more robust and reliable assessments and foresight would be needed towards a better anticipation.

They also highlight the role of trade unions, whose involvement in digitalisation processes reflects the long tradition of accompanying working people in past periods of rapid change so as to ensure the alignment of technological change and social progress including:

  • Monitoring the compliance with labour standards, by making full use of open data access, and informing workers about their rights and benefits.
  • Ensuring that collective agreements and worker representation mechanisms account for the use of new technologies.
  • Organising workers in new fast-growing businesses and sectors.
  • Building capacity to organise self-employed workers and those in non-standard employment in the digital economy.
  • Creating platforms for information and best-practice sharing.
  • Participating in advisory councils on innovation and industrial policies and co-drafting new ICT, digitalisation and broader policy frameworks.
  • Participating in skills ecosystems and the delivery of on-the-job training and VET systems, and co-design national competency strategies and promote training take-up.
  • Using digital tools in campaigns, build exchange platforms, and e-training offers for members and non-members.

The intent is to use these recommendations as guidance to feed into the new OECD Horizontal Project on Seizing the Benefits of Digitalization for Growth and Well Being (, which embarks on a two-year multi-disciplinary process towards deepening understanding on the impacts of technological change on economies. On the occasion of the OECD Ministerial Meeting on the Digital Economy and the first Trade Union Forum (21-23 June 2016, Mexico), TUAC already called on Ministers and the OECD to develop a policy framework to ensure that the expansion of the digital economy contributes to inclusive growth.  The key recommendations will also support trade union inputs to G20, G7 and ILO discussions on the future of work and digital transformations of economic sectors and societies.

Policies need to ensure that technology has positive impacts on growth, job quality and employment creation. Digitalisation and innovation must contribute to better living conditions and more equal societies. It should not be about how to manage disruption but how to create progress for all.

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