Joint Fact-Finding Seminar on Digitalisation in Berlin


"The huge interest and the fact that the seminar was oversubscribed shows that we hit the nail on the head. Our members can feel that the digitalisation is changing their daily lives in companies as well as in their private and social lives", with these words, Peter Scherrer, Deputy General Secretary ETUC opened the joint fact-finding seminar on Digitalisation on the 14.2.2017. The social partners of ETUC, BusinessEurope, UEAPME and CEEP invited their members to the European seminar that took place in Berlin. The joint activity was part of the integrated projects of the European Social Dialogue 2016-2018, on which the social partners agreed last year.

Digitalisation is an ongoing process in all areas of our daily life. Therefore, it is not a question of whether our working life will be affected by digitalisation, the question is how it will be affected.  The objects of the seminar were to get a first overview on the different situations in the member states, the changes and transformation that might occur concerning jobs and to gather examples and how digitalisation is dealt with on the company level.

In Germany the government and the social partners have developed many different activities and initiatives to shape the digitalisation (known as "Work 4.0."). Thorben Albrecht, Secretary of State, German ministry of labour and social affairs, introduced some thoughts and activities from the German government to the participants. One such initiative demanded for by Mr Albrecht was the right for works councils to make sure that employees have the ability for continuing training/upskilling throughout their working life. He also made it clear that digitalisation is not a one-way road and must not lead to a completely free and unchecked labour market and work life. Health protection, flexibility and flexicurity and the right for self-determination are important values that must be part of the digitalised work life.

During the seminar research on digitalisation in the European Union and the member states were presented byProf. Dr. Daniel Buhr (University of Tübingen) and Dr. Paolo Falco(OECD). Vincent Gimeno (CFDT / Orange), Markus Tőrnberg (Crossover) and Dr. Nari Kahle(General Works Council of Volkswagen) presented facts and figures on how their companies, trade unions and works councils are dealing with the changes in the daily work life arising from digitalisation.

After a panel discussion with representatives from the national and sectoral level the day was wrapped up by the representatives from the Social Partners: Liliane Volozinskis for UEAPME, Guillaume Afellat for CEEP, Maxime Cerutti for BusinessEurope and Peter Scherrer for the ETUC.

Peter Scherrer concluded the Seminar saying: "We have to shape the transformation towards digital jobs in a way that makes sure that employment rights are prioritised and that the employees aren't the people that suffer from this transformation. Workers must benefit from digitalisation and it's our task to ensure this improvement! I am looking for further concrete steps from us as social partners. For example, with the ambition to work on a joint agreement on fair digitalisation as part of the next work program of the European social partners."


Presentations : 

- Prof. Dr. Daniel Buhr, University of Tubingen: 

- Dr. Paolo Falco, OECD:

- Vincent Gimeno,  CFDT / Orange:

- Per Markus Tőrnberg - Crossover

- Dr. Nari Kahle - General Works Council Volkswagen