Workers Interests

Why are standards relevant for workers?


Standards developed by private bodies are increasingly affecting the working conditions (product safety, nanotechnology, environment, service, energy, transport, etc.). These standards are also becoming an essential ingredient of protective and preventive legislative requirements.


Since important issues for the health and safety of workers are negotiated outside the workplace, Trade Unions need to actively contribute to standardization to be a key vehicle for informing standards with workers' shop floor experience, demands and expectations.


Why do you need to be represented in standardization?


Let’s start with an example in the field of Machinery & Ergonomics. Standardization has the potential to provide the platform for collaborative work between engineers, employers, workers, manufacturers, researchers and governments who can contribute to better health and safety through consideration of design issues. Through standardization in particular, Trade Unions can explore pathways to deliver the aim of putting workers’ knowledge to best use in improving the working environment.


In fact, the rationale for Trade Unions participating in standardization is manifold. The reach of standardization has extended beyond product safety and interoperability to affect a wide range of issues, such as management systems, sustainability, open source software, nanotechnologies or postal services. So-called management system standards (i.e. systemizing how things are done in an organization) impact upon the organization of work and thus on working conditions. In this regard, Trade Unions have legitimate concerns to voice.


Moreover, standards are also industrial strategic tools modifying the competitive position of companies on the market and so affecting workers, job creation and employment in Europe. Here again, a strong rationale to strengthen Trade Unions' action in standardization exists.


Last but not least, the growing role of technical specifications and standards to support European or national legislation further calls for an increased trade union involvement in standard-setting bodies.


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