Successful decarbonisation in Germany also hinges on labour unions' support – Merkel
Clean Energy Wire
Labour unions are necessary for organising the collective shift towards new technologies needed for the energy transition while securing Germany's position as a business location, chancellor Angela Merkel said in her weekly podcast ahead of a meeting with the trade union confederation DGB on 15 January. "Germany's labour unions effectively have a constitutive importance as they are part of the social partnership. This social partnership is a core element of a social market economy – the economic model on which our country thrives," Merkel said. She said climate change stipulates that Germany transforms its economy "fundamentally" and that new low-carbon technologies will spread throughout it. "This means there will be major disruptions in the employment structure and that's why labour unions always feel devoted to training and education," the chancellor argued, adding that Germany's coal exit by 2038 the latest or the spread of digital technology represent such fundamental shifts. "We currently have a strategic debate with unions and companies from the automotive sector, since the car industry pars pro toto is the sector that illustrates major disruptions and quick transformation in our economy."
Labour unions played a key role in brokering Germany's coal exit compromise, which puts great emphasis on the economic prospects of coal workers and mining regions, for which the government has earmarked around 40 billion euros in support over the next decades. Efforts to decarbonise the economy are a potential threat to many industrial jobs in the country but also offer many opportunities to create employment elsewhere. Leading unions call for a "just transition" that fully considers the project's social ramifications.