Steve Cotton
Steve Cotton, ITF general secretary

Call for just transition for workers in ‘industry 4.0’

The ‘fourth industrial revolution’ – or industry 4.0 – was the theme at this year’s World Economics Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, and prompted ITF general secretary Steve Cotton and other global union leaders to call for a just transition for workers.

On the agenda were the challenges set by rapid technological developments, such as growing global mobile connectivity, artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles, and the reshaping of production, consumption, transportation and delivery systems.

On his return from Davos, Cotton said: “Technology is changing the world and is reshaping our economies and societies. It is clear that workers – and the unions which represent them – have to acknowledge the changes being brought about.

“But our job is to demand that this revolution does not lead to even greater inequality between workers. Instead of having change thrust upon them, workers should be engaged in technological developments in their workplaces and industries. 

“The ITF is working with its affiliates on initiatives designed to build collective power, in order to effect change for the benefit of working men and women, their families and communities. Our priority is to redress the balance of power in favour of people, and to achieve social and economic justice in the world of work. As a global labour movement we have a duty to defend our members’ interests, no matter what challenges we face.”

The WEF published The Fourth Industrial Revolution. It describes as ‘nothing less than a transformation of humankind’ the challenge to shape the new technology revolution, and says ‘shared understanding is particularly critical if we are to shape a collective future that reflects common objectives and values’.

The ITUC’s newly-published Scandal: Inside the global supply chains of 50 top companies revealed a hidden workforce of 116 million people toiling in supply chains, many of them on low wages, doing precarious work in unsafe working conditions with poor labour rights.

Download the executive summary of The Fourth Industrial Revolution.

See the latest WEF news.

Add your comment

All comments