As part of the Citizen’s Pact, we’ve been across the continent, where we’ve enabled people to discuss and develop ideas and proposals on the future of work across Europe (if you’re interested in other themes we’re looking at, check out the Pact website).
You can find the outcomes of each of the forums we have been to by clicking on the relevant links, for Berlin, Sofia, Rome, Barcelona, London, Paris, Valencia, Byala Slatina, Madrid, Vannes and again London. If you don’t have time or the energy to read through each of the findings of these forums, as exciting as they are, we have produced a summary of these along with questions we propose for our research workshop for which we recently opened a call for participation to all our members.
The people invited to this workshop will be asked to explore these questions to come up with proposals on the future of work we will then open up for discussion and voting for our Citizens Manifesto via our new website (watch this space!)
Tell us what you think of the questions and if you can think of better questions, write them in the comments below!
The ideas developed through the different consultations are based around a set of principles that Europe should focus on social protection over deficit reduction and in some cases, even over unemployment.
Social protection in this context means having universal access to socio-economic rights, including essential public services and common goods, such as education, housing and a basic income.
What new forms of social protection are needed to meet new and different work situations?
Redesigning support to meet different needs
Public services should develop a better understanding of how to match work opportunities with young people’s skills and redesign services around their different needs. Indeed, not all young people will be faced with the same situation or capability to make a living – from school leavers to graduates, from long term unemployed to the self-employed.
More and more people are moving between periods of being underworked and overworked, often unsure of if and when they’re going to work from one day to a next. People cope in different ways with precarity.
What forms of support are needed to help people cope with different work situations?
Actively tackling inequalities in the labour market
To tackle specific inequalities, people argued that job and housing applications should be anonymised to reduce discrimination, gender quotas be introduced to break through the glass ceiling.
Specific measures should be introduced to compensate young people working in precarious employment, such as targeted training when they are in between jobs.
Redistributing the value of work
Paid work should be redistributed to tackle unemployment and reduce redundancies, such as through reducing hours of full time employees to take on part time staff. People out of work who volunteer in areas that are socially valuable such as care or community development should also be able to receive a community allowance.
Alternative economic markets and socially valuable forms of work should also be incentivised.
How should welfare systems help make work pay?
What forms of income are needed to value different ways to make a living?
Guaranteeing common goods to improve access to work
They also advised that the EU should ensure that essential public services are free at the point of use, particularly those that help people access work – such as public transport and broadband even in the most excluded areas, as well as healthcare, especially for those in work where there is a greater physical and mental health risk.
What public assets / common goods should be guaranteed to improve access to employment and help people develop socially valuable ways to make a living?
Legislating for a common basic income to democratise money
Not only are minimum and average wages no longer enough to provide a minimum standard of living with ever increasing housing and utility costs, they’re being squeezed by being put into competition with countries with the greatest poverty and weakest social protection.
Participants of several forums proposed that the European Union should legislate that states provide an unconditional basic income to every citizen residing within its country.
The benefits this would bring to young people would be centred around building their autonomy to find work and make a living and democratise and redistribute employment and income.
How should wages or income be aligned to the average cost of living?
Improving education throughout young people’s lives
To ensure young people have universal access to learn and apply their skills, further and higher education should be free. The quality of education and training also needs to be improved, with further investment in secondary education and in vocational training.
How should the education system better meet young people’s capacities to make a living?
Improving the quality and security of apprenticeships and internships
Participants proposed minimum standards to ensure young people taking on apprenticeships or internships were protected and paid just like any other worker. The EU should incentivise the spread of apprenticeships through subsidising workplace training for organisations that take on apprentices, paid by a levy on those who don’t.
How should apprenticeships and internships be better protected and remunerated?
Developing new forms of taxation to finance support
To finance the above proposals, people suggested various forms of harmonising taxation at an EU level – including through a financial transactions tax.
Building new forms of institutions and partnerships to support employment
To raise awareness about these issues and build power to negotiate this both at a local and transnational level, trade unions need to transform themselves to better meet the needs of precarious workers and people out of work, while social dialogue between them, employers and the state should be a prerequisite.
While campaigning should build up through new methods such as social networks and citizen’s initiatives, academics should also work with activists and authorities to build the evidence base for these proposals and test them out.
How can institutions better understand and meet the needs of people going through different work situations? What new forms of collaboration are needed to support employment?