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'Let's transform work' - Recommendations and proposals from the Commission on the Work of the Future (K. Jürgens, R. Hoffmann, Ch.Schildmann)

What is the future of work? How to shape it? What's the role of workers' participation in this? These valid questions were addressed, among many more, in the recently (April 2018) published report 'Let's transform work' by Prof. Dr. Kerstin Jürgens, Reiner Hoffmann (President of the German Trade Union Confederation) and Christina Schildmann (Head of Commission on the Work of Future), published by the Hans-Boeckler Foundation.

The report addresses the general questions of change in the world of work by focusing in particular on two questions. Firstly, what will the work of the future look like? And secondly, what are the new challenges facing employment policy makers? This includes, among others, digital change, but is also linked to the broader context of demographic change, infrastructure, immigration, new forms of employement, precarity, income, new concept of company, etc. Especially the last question is of relevance for workers and their representatives, as it determines their direct environment and the functioning of information, consultation and codetermination systems in Europe. This produces some pertinent questions: 'What does it mean for social partnership if companies and industries ‘fluidify’ and it becomes increasingly impossible to draw clear boundaries between them? What form would effective trade union representation take in a network company, without trade unions’ poaching on each other’s territories?'

The “Work in the Future” commission was set up in May 2015 by the Hans Böckler Foundation, the German Trade Union Confederation’s foundation. The expert commission comprised 33 members - all of them eminent academics, co-determination experts, business managers and politicians. The commission’s final report was published in June 2017 and has now been translated into English. The report includes numerous analyses of change processes in the labour market and 54 thought-provoking ideas on structuring change. One important aspect is that the commission did not simply discuss the digital transformation as change driver alone, but in conjunction with other major trends that are shaping the labour market and society. They include demographic change, the different life plans of women and men, new challenges relating to uniting a career with care obligations and the topic of migration. The commission’s recommendations and debate contributions point in a clear direction: we have to actively structure the world of work in the transformation process.

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