Ana Mendes Godinho
Minister of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security of the Portugese Republic
In these challenging times our main goal must be focusing on halting the spread of the epidemic, saving lives and keeping our health systems afloat. At the same time, we cannot lose sight of the disruptive situations this pandemic is already generating in our Member States and in the European Union. This crisis will have deep and long-lasting consequences, particularly in terms of employment. Economic and social recovery will be very demanding and prolonged. Europe must stay focused and act together. This will be a determining factor for our future.
The world of work will no longer be the same. We need to strengthen our efforts to meet the challenges that lie ahead with a main objective of protecting our citizens and their jobs. The phenomenon of globalization in conjunction with accelerated technological progress has facilitated the emergence of global supply chains. These in turn have contributed to the worldwide transformation of work, characterised by profound changes in formal, standard organisational and productive work arrangements and in labour force skills, working conditions and wages. We will have to be innovative and make use of all possible instruments to keep existing jobs and to ensure that others will emerge. Anticipating the impacts of this crisis is crucial to define the political action to face recovery and at the same time valorise decent, high-quality work and defend strong social protection systems. Digitalisation and new communication and manufacturing technologies represent opportunities for both employers and workers. More than ever we will need that decision-makers, companies and social partners adapt to changes and are willing to be innovative when it comes to new forms of work organization, job creation and maintenance, and the development and adaptation of qualifications and skills. This will be key for our recovery. This crisis cannot be used as an argument to stop the debate we were having. We must continue to discuss and question the model of industrial relations that we seek for our society. It is essential to improve the quality of work, expand the opportunities for choice, close the gender gap, fight poverty and reduce inequalities, invest in lifelong learning, and ensure equality of access to work and social protection for all workers irrespective of their employment status.
Our role is to shape, frame and regulate a socially just future of work properly adapted to changes and able to face unforeseen crisis. I believe that the change underway should be an opportunity and not a threat. An opportunity to create a more prosperous future that guarantees economic security, equal opportunities and social justice. And these are common challenges for the European Union and its main objective of convergence. Now, more than ever!
It is also very important to consider the role of fair minimum wages. I believe that ensuring minimum wages that guarantee a decent life for and their families will be crucial to combat inequalities and contribute to a more equal income distribution. By guaranteeing fair minimum wages for all Europeans according to the standard of living in each country, we will promote a more social, cohesive, fair and competitive Europe.
„This crisis cannot be used as an argument to stop the debate we were having. We must continue to discuss and question the model of industrial relations that we seek for our society. “
Since the future of work is today, we should leverage the momentum and be creative. Whether as policy makers, scholars, employees, economic operators, social partners, or simply as citizens, reflexion on the multiple dimensions of the future of work is bound to happen. I hope that the next European semesters with the incoming trio of Presidencies by Germany, Portugal and Slovenia will constitute a huge opportunity to discuss all these essential issues. It is vital to make an impact on the implementation and evolution of the European Pillar of Social Rights and to jointly contribute to the development of its action plan. We need the European Action Plan to overcome this crisis and to show our citizens that standing together will be key to our future.