At this time of major digital, environmental and demographic change, which is in turn bringing about far-reaching changes for workers, employers and their relations as social partners, the EESC believes that the need to acknowledge the role that social dialogue and collective bargaining play at all levels is now greater than ever, as its key objectives and principles still hold true.
In the EESC's view, it is not yet possible to predict the full range of opportunities and challenges that the digital economy will bring. The role of social and civic dialogue is not to oppose these transitions, but rather to steer them in the best way possible for reaping the full range of benefits they can bring for growth, the promotion of innovation and skills, good jobs and the sustainable, solidarity-based financing of social protection, whilst ensuring that people can still assert the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the ILO conventions.
Digitalisation defies traditional methods of management and administration; it calls for participative management, and for collective rules to be drawn up and the adaptation of the structure of and arrangements for social dialogue.
The EESC recommends respecting the autonomy of the social partners who, through collective bargaining, have undertaken to find innovative forms of social dialogue and responses tailored to the needs of employers and workers, both in traditional enterprises and in the digital economy. In this opinion, the EESC describes some initial experiences, innovative responses and solutions, trade-union practices and collective bargaining outcomes that tackle the challenges thrown up by these changes. The question of greater cooperation between the social partners and other civil society organisations is also raised, such as broad consultation at government level that brings other civil society stakeholders into broader debates on the overall impact of digitalisation. Digitalisation and its effects on work need to be a priority. The EESC recommends the monitoring the development, as well as their impact on industrial relations, working conditions and social dialogue; and improving the effectiveness and relevance of social dialogue by exchanging information, drawing up forward studies, pooling best practice and achieving an appropriate legislative and non-legislative framework.