Net-Zero Industry Act: Europe risks falling behind US on social standards

Commenting on the European Parliament plenary vote on the Net Zero Industry Act, ETUC Confederal Secretary Ludovic Voet said:

“This is the first time that the importance of social conditions to a successful industrial policy have been recognised at EU level. The text calls for public contracts to be evaluated on their contribution to creating decent wages, working conditions, apprenticeship and training opportunities in order to increase the attractiveness of employment in net-zero industry sector.

“That is vitally important because there is a major skills shortage in green industry, with the Commission's research showing a million more workers are needed in the renewable energy sector alone in the next seven years to meet green power targets.

“However, unlike in the US’ Inflation Reduction Act, the text does not link access to subsidies to respect for labour law.  

“Respect for collective bargaining, which is crucial to raising pay and conditions, is the most fundamental requirement for the creation of quality jobs. Unfortunately, amendments which would have required employers receiving public money to respect collective bargaining were voted down.

“Europe is matching the US when it comes to subsidies to companies but falling behind when it comes to ensuring that money is used to raise social standards.  

“There is a real risk that the green deal becomes a blank cheque for CEOs that does nothing to tackle the labour shortage and ensure there is a socially just transition to a green economy.”