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On 15-16 November 2021, the ZOOM platform hosted a workshop as part of the project “Contemporary Challenges of Employee Participation – Opposing the Negative Results of Covid-19”. The leading theme of the workshop was the European Green Deal and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The introduction to the discussion was a presentation on the EU Green Deal initiative, its funding sources and planned effects of implementation.
Project experts presented two country reports: on Poland and Czech Republic. The experts discussed the main theses of the reports and the conclusions drawn from the information contained therein.
The reports for Poland and the Czech Republic presented by the experts were the subject of debate among the workshop participants in terms of the possibilities of increasing employee participation in the implementation of the European Green Deal. The discussion focused primarily on the current economic situation of the states in terms of the surge in energy prices and thus in the prices of goods and services and the cost of living for workers.
EU policy should recognize that a negative consequence of the implementation of the Deal may be an increase in the use of products created without respect for human and labor rights and environmental requirements, and implement policies to counter this risk.
The Green Deal is designed to allow EU countries to rebuild their economies after a pandemic, and the tools for funding this rebuilding include the Next Generation EU program and the EU budget. In many countries, including Poland, the mobilization of funds from the above-mentioned sources is delayed, which translates into the status of implementation of measures for the implementation of the European Green Deal and may pose a risk to the pace of transformation and achievement of the objectives of the Deal in the assumed timeframe.
The impact of COVID-19 on the European economy, including the labor market and workers, was also the subject of a lively discussion. Experiences were shared on the role of social partners in addressing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic across countries, including their influence on the design of support for workers and enterprises implemented both by national governments and at the enterprise level. The situation varies, for example Spain has the highest level of unemployment in the EU, while in Poland it is one of the lowest in the EU.
In addition to this, employees and companies still largely operate using remote work, which has negative financial (related to labor costs for employees) and psychological sides for those doing off-site work (related to alienation and difficulties in reconciling work and private life).
The need to increase the quality of public services and to regulate remote working was pointed out. Information was exchanged on the legal regulation of remote working on the example of Poland and Spain. In addition, there was discussion about the cost to employees of having to test for SARS-COV-2 and the issue of the right to protect sensitive data due to a planned new law to give employers the ability to know if an employee has been vaccinated against COVID-19 disease. Unions in this case should uphold employees’ right to confidentiality of their health information.