ETF and ETUI Train Logistics Union Reps on AI and Collective Bargaining Challenges

22 Feb 2024

The European Transport Workers’ Federation partnered with the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) to deliver a pilot training on the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and digitalization in the logistics sector for union representatives. Held in Antwerp on February 7-8, 2024, the program aimed to equip participants with the knowledge and tools to navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by this rapidly evolving landscape while strengthening collective bargaining efforts on behalf of logistics workers.

Deep Dive into AI’s Power Dynamics:

The training kicked off with a presentation by AI expert Dr. Aida Ponce del Castillo, who provided an in-depth overview of AI’s implications for the world of work. Participants then actively engaged with the “AI Boardgame,” a unique learning tool developed by ETUI to explore the complex power dynamics surrounding AI decision-making in the workplace. This immersive experience highlighted the diverse roles played by employers, technology developers, workers, unions, NGOs, and governments in shaping the future of AI adoption.

Uneven Landscape, Urgent Needs:

The training revealed a concerning disparity in the implementation of AI across European logistics companies. Northern countries displayed a higher adoption rate of advanced technologies compared to their southern counterparts, with similar disparities observed within individual companies. This uneven distribution raises concerns about potential inequalities and emphasizes the need for targeted support for workers in vulnerable regions.

Learning from Industry Leaders:

ETF and ETUI were joined by experts from the German works council of DHL Group, a global leader in advanced logistics technology. Participants gained valuable insights into the practical implications of AI on parcel delivery and management, while simultaneously highlighting the critical role of unions in ensuring responsible and ethical implementation.

Building Stronger Bargaining Power:

The training concluded with a resounding call for further action. Participants unanimously expressed a desire for additional training resources to equip them with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively represent their members in collective bargaining negotiations amidst the evolving digital landscape. The ETF and ETUI are committed to addressing this need by developing further training programs on this crucial topic.

Protecting Vulnerable Workers:

As highlighted in the ETF’s Manifesto for Fair Logistics, logistics workers are especially vulnerable to psychosocial injury due to exposure to digital tools. Major logistics firms are heavily investing in such tools for faster processing and delivery, but regulations around their safe use and impact lag behind. This leaves many logistics workers precariously employed and lacking necessary protections.

Next Steps:

The ETF and ETUI will collaborate to gather resources and develop comprehensive training programs on AI and digitalization in the logistics sector. The success of this pilot program underscores the urgent need for such training, and the organizations are committed to ensuring that all union representatives are equipped to address the challenges and opportunities presented by this rapidly evolving landscape.