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Towards a Just Transition in the automotive industry

21 March, 2024The automotive industry is at a critical juncture, facing the challenge of switching towards more sustainable and environmentally-friendly mobility. This change affects not only how vehicles are produced and used but also the millions of workers who make up this sector globally. It is essential, amid this transition, to ensure a fair way forward that protects jobs and the economy, while moving towards a greener and more equitable future.

The global automotive industry is undergoing unprecedented change, driven by the need to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. This change, which is vital in terms of social and environmental commitments, affects more than two million workers around the world, in manufacturing, distribution, dealerships and companies linked to the sector, such as parts suppliers, etc.

IndustriALL Global Union participated in a conference in Valencia, held bySpanish affiliate UGT FICA, which provided a crucial opportunity for addressing the challenges facing the automotive industry. Addressing issues from the adaptation of manufacturing sites to the identification of new professional profiles, skills and qualifications, discussions were held on how to tackle the challenges in a collaborative way, bringing together companies, public administrations and trade unions.

Mariano Hoya, general secretary of UGT FICA, made several national-level demands, like relief contracts and reduced working hours.

“The relief contract is considered a vital element in guaranteeing generational replacement and competitiveness in the sector.  We are also looking to a reduction in working hours, in light of the transformation of the labour market due to robotisation and decarbonisation.”

It is crucial that companies, public administrations and unions work together to ensure a just and orderly transition in the automotive industry. It was evident from all the sessions that there was a great deal of convergence in the objectives of all the parties involved, which have long been working together to address the challenges ahead and ensure a sustainable future for the industry and the workers.

IndustriALL’s energy and Just Transition director, Diana Junquera Curiel, gave a presentation on new forms of sustainable propulsion, highlighting the impact the changes will have on workers. The intervention stressed the need for a just transition that ensures continuity of employment and economic stability, taking advantage of funding, where available, such as that provided by the European Union to facilitate the transition. The focus is on environmentally sustainable measures built on the premise of ensuring a smooth transition, allowing time for the restructuring and reorganisation required.

Said Diana Junquera:

"The transition to a more sustainable automotive industry must prioritise the protection of workers and ensure their active participation in this process of change. Trade unions must be prepared to adapt to the inevitable changes ahead, so that we continue to be relevant actors in the defence of labour rights in the global automotive industry.”