The development of the green economy is a major challenge for the European social dialogue considering the role and future evolution of the relationships between trade unions, employers’ organizations, institutions and civil society. The strengthen of the social dialogue is basic for the reorganization of the production and to manage the impacts of the transition to a sustainable economy on the labour market as well as on the working and living conditions.
The construction industry is one of the key sectors of the green economy. The European Commission identified the building sector as an area where significant improvements in energy efficiency can be realized. According to the Green Paper on Energy Efficiency, the building sector accounts for more than 40% of the final energy demand in Europe. At the same time, improved heating and cooling of buildings constitutes one of the largest potentials for energy savings.
In line with the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, orientation towards green building helps to promote growth which is: a) sustainable, involving the efficient use of natural resources in an economy with low CO2 emissions; b) intelligent, based on research and innovation in the field of new materials, construction techniques and building design; c) fair, helping to create new jobs and encouraging the re-skilling and retraining of professionals in the new green building production cycle (in particular as regards the over 50s, women, youth), thus counteracting the phenomena of poverty and social exclusion produced by the economic crisis.
The development of green building can help not only to reduce consumption but also to create new job opportunities and the demand for innovation and new professional skills. Eco-industries offer great opportunities for young people and EU governments are being encouraged to exploit this potential by re-focusing their training efforts and including green employment as a key target of their National Job Plans (European commission, 2005; 2014).
It is estimated, in many studies, that the construction sector can create the greatest numbers of green economy jobs and produce a major transformation in professions and work organizations. Moreover the development of green building has a positive impact on the development of the whole economic system, considering the inter-sectoral effects in terms of raw materials, components, tools and machinery, and also considering the transport, commercial and financial services as well as the impact on research and innovation (Enea, Ires, 2011; Center for American Progress and Political Economy Research Study, 2008).
The green building economy requires an ever-increasing knowledge. The design phase is more important than in the traditional construction phase, affecting the professions involved in the production cycle, which will require the participation of a greater number of high-skilled workers in the research and management and executive phases.
Sustainable construction and renovation requires new materials, components and systems, producing deep effects on: a) the quality of products and processes; b) the rationalization of production; c) the production chain; d) the transformation of work (in terms of impact on employment, creation of new professions, changes in the organization of work). Nevertheless, the challenge of combining the green economy with the growing industrialization of sustainable building (Kamarul et al. 2011) requires a shift in terms of how the economy is managed and how business decisions are made (Galgóczi, 2012). Also, it needs to consider the whole production cycle developing sustainable practices oriented to: maintain, upgrade, dismantle, reuse.
Innovative collective bargaining and social dialogue can contribute to addressing these employment and social policy challenges of the sustainable economy and the green building at European level. For these reasons, dialogue between the social partners on anticipating and meeting the green building development is required to improve public governance and economic and social reform within the European Union (European Commission, European social dialogue: a force for innovation and change, 2002; ILO, Skills and Occupational Needs in Green Building, 2011).This project aims to strengthen the capacity of social partners (representatives of management and labour) to contribute to the European and national social dialogue related to the development of the green building in a sustainable economy. In order to achieve this goal the project aims to enhance cooperation and mutual learning among social actors in support of the processes of green building.
As recognized by the European Commission (2014), the lack of common objectives, indicators and data about the green building and the lack of mutual recognition of different approaches among the social partners could soon undo progress made to date and lead to distortions in the internal market for professionals in the field of planning, designing, constructing and manufacturing.
This project aims to reduce this gap promoting the strengthen of social dialogue in favor of the transition towards sustainable development.
The project will focus on five European countries in order to compare experiences and trends from North, South, Central Europe: Italy, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Poland, considering convergences and divergences in the development of the green building and the role of social dialogue.
The project network includes trade unions, research institutes and employer associations:
– Trade unions:
FILLEA CGIL-Italy (applicant)
ACV-Belgium, Budowlani-Poland, CCOO-Spain (co-applicants)
EFBWW – European Federation of Building and Woodworkers, FILCA CISL, Italy; FENEAL UIL, Italy (associate organizations)
– Research institutes:
ABT-Italy, Peco-Institut E.V.-Germany (co-applicants)
– Employers’ association: ANCE (associate organization)
For the Italian case, FILLEA as applicant has considered appropriate to involve as associate organizations in the project all the main representative trade unions (CISL and UIL) because all of them are crucial actors in the Italian industrial relations system. ANCE (the employers organization) is part of the project too as associate organization, with the aim to involve all the stakeholders of the social dialogue.
All the partners (co-applicants and associate organizations) will be involved in any phase of the project with an active role, with the aim to favourite sharing, participation and cooperation.
The main purposes and expected results of the project are:
a) Project aims to identify major trends in the development of green building at national and
European level and successful models to be disseminated through the exchange of experiences and best practices among the countries and social partners. Project will take into account experiences and best practices related to the role of social dialogue for the anticipation and implementation of sustainable processes in the construction field, promoting economic growth and “good employment”. The goal is to focus the attention to the practices able to promote jobs that are green and good, i.e. which respect the dignity of the workers (“decent work”) and which are more secure and protected, contributing to the employment and social objectives of the EU 2020 Strategy.
b) Projects aims to implement the national and European networks focused on the social dialogue for the greening of construction industry by the organization of workshops and meetings with the aim to strengthen synergies and exchanges of experiences, involving a wide range of actors: representatives of employers and workers, institutions, experts, civil society considering the green building sectors but, also, sectors and professions related to green economy in a horizontal perspective. In particular, this project aims to create an international working-group on social dialogue in green building.
c) Project intends to improve the social dialogue practices in the field of green building by the sharing of good practices and the creation of guidelines proposed jointly by all the social partners involved in the workshops.