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Unions and Digitalisation

Welcome to this repository of articles, reports and tools related to the digitalisation of work and union transformation. Jointly developed by the Why Not Lab and FES, it aims to inspire you as you embark on the important journey of reshaping digitalisation so it empowers workers and respects their fundamental rights, freedoms and autonomy.

Unions are key to turning the current unfettered digitalisation of work into one in which workers and their unions have a seat at the table and influence over the digital tools and systems employers are using. The resources on this page are all practical in nature. Some offer vital background information. Others foundational knowledge about data, artificial intelligence and algorithms in workplaces. The tools provided are all developed for workers, by workers. They are concerned with collective bargaining clauses, negotiating for workers’ data rights, union transformation, governing algorithmic systems and concrete apps to support you in your digital organising and campaigning.

Contact

Mirko Herberg
+49 (0)30 26935-7458

Blanka Balfer
+49 (0)30 26935-7493

unionstransform(at)fes.de

Contact persons for specific requests

As work becomes digitalised and increasingly quantified, many many workers across the world are subject to unforgivable harm. Unions must work together across sectors and borders to ensure workers’ rights and to hold management accountable and liable to the systems they are using.

We hope you will find lots of inspiration in the below, and even better that you will use the resources in your journey to reshape digitalisation.

 


Union Transformation

Article

Your Digital Union

Herberg, Colclough

2022


What does a union in 2035 do and how? With a positive spin, this article jumps 10+ years ahead in time and offers reflections on what we call ‘your digital union’. Read what organisational and strategic changes our union 2035 has gone through and the policy wins they have ensured to ensure the rights and social protection for all workers, in all forms of work. Lets us know what you think!

 

Tool

Digital Impact Framwork

Public Service International


Designed for PSI’s Our Digital Future project, this tool helps unions assess and then improve their level of digital impact with regards to their externally focussed policies and strategies, as well as their internal union operations.

 

Project

Trade Unions in Transformation 4.0

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung


In 12 case studies, FES has investigated how trade unions worldwide are confronting the new digital world of work. The final report shows that unions and grassroots initiatives need to pool their power resources to negotiate decent working conditions in digital capitalism.

 

Innovation Observatory

Technology and digital transformation: a challenge for trade unions

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung


In 12 case studies, FES has investigated how trade unions worldwide are confronting the new digital world of work. The final report shows that unions and grassroots initiatives need to pool their power resources to negotiate decent working conditions in digital capitalism.

 


Negotiating Data Rights

Article

Righting the Wrong: Putting Workers’ Data Rights Firmly on the Table

Christina J. Colclough, The Why Not Lab


This book chapter argues why unions must negotiate for much stronger collective data rights for workers. It presents the ‘data lifecycle at work’ - a model and method to inspire union negotiations and offers good practice examples from unions across the world.

 

Tool

Negotiating Data Rights Tool

Public Service International


This online tool is a step-by-step guide to negotiating for strong workers’ data rights and for ensuring employers are in compliance with data protection regulations. It is regional specific and provides good tips and legal clauses to you as you map out and plan your negotiations. It is accompanied by a spreadsheet that will help you log all the information you can get from management about the digital tools and systems they are deploying. A first of its kind! Do try it out!

 

Tool

Digital Bargaining Database

Public Services International


Throughout 2022 PSI has been developing a searchable database of collective bargaining clauses and contract language related to the digitalisation of work. You can search by theme, sector, clause type and much more. This is a knowledge sharing hub full of goodies! If you have clauses or contract language you wish to add simply press the submit clause button and share away!

 


Co-Governing Algorithmic System

Tool

Guide to Co-Governance algorithmic systems

Christina J. Colclough, The Why Not Lab


This guide is developed for shop stewards and unions. It consists of 7 themes and 21 questions to hold management accountable, liable and transparent around the algorithmic (AI) systems they are deploying. A great guide to support your negotiations with management and clear the managerial fuzz! 

 


Build/Use Union Tech

Tool

WeClock

UNI Global Union’s Young Workers’ Lab together with Guardian Project and Okthanks


WeClock is an open-source, privacy-preserving app built by workers for workers and their union. Via the sensors on mobile devices it will give you secure data you can use in your collective bargaining, campaigning and organising. More info on the app’s website!

 

App

FES Union APP

FES Argentina


Union Platform is a free App developed by FES Argentina specifically for trade unions and social organisations as a tool to enable agile and permanent communication with members and representatives. The demo application was developed as an open-source software and can be easily customised to the different requirements organisations need. Contact us at union.platform@fes.org.ar to receive the login details to try it!

 


More Resources

Article

Reshaping the Digitization of Public Services

Christina J. Colclough


This 2022 article argues that the current digitalisation of public services is occurring in a void. Caused by poor public procurement and/or supplier contracts, insufficient digital laws with a lack of governance processes and bodies, and competency gaps from all parties involved, the article suggests how and why this void can be filled to protect quality public services and decent work.

 

Report

Training Material for Digital Rights’ Organisers (DROs)

Public Service International


PSI’s Our Digital Future project aims to capacity build public service unions across the world, so they have the right know-what, know-why and know-how to reshape digitalisation. This training material, which is relevant for all unions across all sectors, is for the group of unionists who have been trained to be their region’s experts. Find the material for each region here:

 

Report

Teaching with Tech: the role of education unions in shaping the future

Christina J. Colclough


Written for Education International, this report is based on a survey conducted with EI’s member organisations. It includes a number of recommendations for union actions to address the gaps and prevent harms.

 

Union Brief

Critique of G7 digital policies 2022

DGB, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, The Why Not Lab


As the G7 ramps up their activities on digitalisation, we met with the German Labour Market Minister to discuss the G7’s digital policies: read this brief to learn why standards and certifications as a mode of AI regulation is highly problematic, why the G7 is urged to focus much more on workers’ rights and why the G7’s omittance of any mention of the governance of digital technologies is fundamentally flawed.

 

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