Trade unions are ‘critical enablers’ to ensure workers are put first in industry digital transformation, the ITF told the World Economic Forum (WEF).
19/09/2016 Addressing a high-level WEF workshop on 8 September, ITF assistant general secretary Rob Johnston said unions were essential to ensure that the digital transformation in the aviation, travel and tourism industries is also sustainable and socially responsible.
Digital transformation means the industry adapting to meet the changing expectations of customers in terms of e-commerce and sharing information and accessing services online and via social media.
Mr Johnston joined other industry leaders and experts from around the world in New York, USA to help shape the WEF agenda on digitalisation. The aviation, travel and tourism industry is already at the forefront of digitalisation and the sweeping changes over the past decade are set to continue.
Participants agreed that workers will experience increasing demands as digitalisation transforms the industry ecosystem and as demands for travel increase, with emerging markets estimated to account for 70 percent of global travel by 2034.
Mr Johnston said: “Unions are not a barrier to change; instead, they can be enablers. But only if change is carried out in a socially responsible way – that means all parties, including unions and the workers they represent – having an equal voice in long term planning and impact assessments.”
The workshop examined the critical role of key influencers such as unions, employers and governments in affecting the speed, direction and magnitude of the transformation process.
Mr Johnston continued: “If we want to use these changes to improve lives and society – and not just profit – we need to take a long term view and demonstrate socially responsibility.
“We need public policies that equip our future workforce with the skills required for transformation, and we need to take our existing workforce with us. Such policies cannot be developed in isolation from industry or without long term planning.
“We must also give workers enough confidence and security to want to stay in the industry and enough stability that they want to commit to retraining and personal development as part of the change process. With their unique understanding of workers’ needs, unions are critical enablers in this process.”
Read more about the WEF initiative on the digital transformation of industries, in which the ITF and International Trade Union Confederation participated.