Technological Change and Vocational Training
While the introduction of new technology can be beneficial to workers by improving the competitiveness of enterprise and leading to enhanced job security and improved employment conditions, it also has severe social consequences and brings with it an ever-greater reduction in the number of workers in the industry.
The textile, clothing and leather sectors have not made optimum use of valuable technology and often rely instead on driving down wages to reduce labour costs. Unions have mainly been ignored in the process of introducing new technology, and inadequate vocational training has left workers unprepared for the consequences of the drive for greater productivity. In many developing countries multinational companies relocating to Free Trade Zones have failed to deliver on their promises on transfers of technology.
The ITGLWF is committed to:
- encourage affiliates to demand full participation at all levels in the decisions leading to the introduction of new technology, ensuring that any reductions in the workforce take place on a voluntary basis, through early retirement, or by a policy of no new hirings, rather than through lay-offs, and that technological change brings with it improvements in employment conditions in order to compensate for higher productivity;
- assist affiliates in securing commitments on training and retraining in order to equip workers for change by ensuring they are adequately trained to carry out new tasks or work with new equipment, thus helping them avoid unemployment;
- work with affiliates in campaigning for increased attention from governments and employers on training and retraining;
- press governments to ensure that inward investment assists in the transfer of technology and industrial development, as well as to ensure that the transfer of technology is accompanied by a transfer of knowledge about the effect new equipment and processes have on those who use them.