Environmental Sustainability

Industry 4.0 has to cope with the necessity of producing within environmental constraints in order to meet the challenge of sustainability. On the one hand, it has been contended that new technologies (e.g., advanced robotics, internet of things, additive manufacturing) can produce an increase in resource efficiency, for instance by reducing errors and improving the precision of production operations, allowing for predictive maintenance and reducing manufacturing waste. On the other hand, despite possibilities of energy optimisation provided by algorithms and data analytics, energy consumption represents a concrete challenge especially in relation to additive manufacturing; furthermore, the demands of raw materials and rare earth elements (e.g., lithium, dysprosium/terbium and rhenium) are expected to grow for the production of drones, sensors and other devices.

To deal with this challenge, workers’ reps should deepen their knowledge about the environmental impact of Industry 4.0-related technologies and raise workers’ awareness of the role they can play in gearing modern production towards sustainability. More   participatory   rights  at   all   levels of industrial 

relations are also needed to allow workers and their representatives to be informed in due time about development strategies and play a concrete role in converging Industry 4.0 and environmental sustainability. This may entail, for instance, the revision of school curricula and company training courses and the provision of labour transition programmes assisting workers potentially affected by radical company restructuring. Trade unions must thus adopt a future-oriented perspective.

A New Social Pact for Sustainable Industrial Development in Spain 

On 28 November 2016 the Declaration of Social Partners for the Development of a Social Pact for Industry (Declaración de los Agentes Sociales instando al desarrollo de un Pacto de Estado por la Industria) was signed in Spain by 4 trade union federations representing workers in industrial sec- 21 tors, construction and services (including UGT-FICA) and by the employers’ associations participating in the so-called Alliance for the Competitiveness of Spanish Industry (Alianza por la Competitividad de la Industria Española). The Declaration contains 9 policies (referring to energy efficiency and environmental sustainability, new infrastructures, lifelong learning, technological and digital development, smart regulation, fiscal measures, internationalisation of markets, support for innovation projects, etc.) aimed at boosting industrial competitiveness in accordance with the need to create good work and ensure environmental sustainability. These policies are intended to be the foundations for a new social pact for industrial development in Spain. After few years from its signature, the Declaration and its 9 policies still represent the guiding principles for the development of a stable, qualified and competitive industrial sector, in the belief that it plays a fundamental role in spurring progress and social wellbeing.

The Involvement of IF Metall in the Sustainable Development of Sweden

The programme Produktion 2030 was launched in 2013 with the aim to make Sweden a frontrunner in investments in sustainable production by 2030. To achieve this goal, Produktion 2030 promotes and strengthens networks and collaborations between different industries and sectors, both within Sweden and internationally, and brings together ideas, players and funding opportunities. More precisely, from 2013 to 2016, it funded 30 projects involving 150 companies and 50 research institutes; created around 20 events for knowledge transfer among small and medium enterprises; established a Ph.D. school; initiated 5 staff mobility projects; was involved in EU-wide platforms and supported stakeholders on EU-funding. Produktion 2030 is financed by Vinnova, the Swedish Energy Agency (Energimyndigheten) and the Swedish Research Council Formas. It is built on collaboration between academia, research and industry associations, including IF Metall and Teknikföretagen. Moreover, both IF Metall and Teknikföretagen were involved in the development in 2016 of the legislative strategy named Smart Industry. One of its focus areas is called Sustainable Production and aimed at developing new or improving existing technologies, goods and services with consideration given to emission reductions, energy, and resource efficiency, reusability and recyclability. Further information at:



A Labour-Management Green Project in the Italian company Almaviva

Some company-level collective agreements signed in the metalworking sector in Italy focus on the goal of environmental sustainability, for instance, by providing for targeted training programmes, variable pay schemes related to ‘green’ goals and bilateral committees devoted to the analysis of solutions for an improved resource efficiency. An example is represented by the Almaviva Green project, launched at Almaviva in 2008. At that time, the internal negotiation for the renewal of the company-level collective agreement was stuck in the definition of the performance-related bonus. With the goal of finding new resources and reference indexes different from traditional ones, the company decided to put in place sustainable conducts, to use the resources from savings in consumption to finance the performance-related bonus. In May 2009, a joint (composed of managers and workers’ representatives) and crossdepartmental ‘green team’ was built and a roadmap (including a detailed action plan and its timing) was designed. In October 2009, Almaviva CEO underlined in communication that Almaviva’s transformation into a ‘green company’ had become a strategic goal for the Group, concerning which workers’ involvement had acquired an essential role. In addition to the inclusion of green goals in the performance-related bonus, an information campaign was launched, with the aim of raising workers’ awareness and sensitivity on the functioning and objectives of the performance-related bonus. The performance-related pay scheme is now composed of 2 independent parameters: 75% linked to the trend of MOL/VPT (Typical Production Value) ratio; 25% linked to innovation and business processes’ improvement projects (notably, goals of energy saving/efficiency within the framework of the Almaviva iGreen project), to be jointly defined by company and workers’ representatives. Specific objectives can further be detailed at the plant level.