Motion 2: Artificial Intelligence

The webinar provided an opportunity to showcase UNI Europa’s work on Artificial Intelligence (AI). Birte Dedden, UNI Europa Director for ICTS, gave an overview of the different activities on AI and the role of social partners. Following the publication and promotion of the UNI Europa position paper on AI in 2019, we have organized a series of webinars to raise awareness about AI and its impact on workers. A key objective of our work is to train our affiliates and to put AI related topics on the collective bargaining agenda.

Alex Sirieys from FO presented the guidelines on algorithmic management (AM) elaborated by UNI Professionals & Managers. With more and more algorithmic tools used by management in the recruitment process, employees need to better understand these technologies to address possible bias and discrimination based on AI driven systems. Another challenge for workers that needs to be addressed in social dialogue is the use of AM tools for performance evaluation and surveillance. The Covid 19 pandemic has seen an increase in the use of such technology.

“What is clear is that people must remain in the driver’s seat: companies must be accountable in the use of AI at work, managements themselves must be able to overrule the algorithm“, concluded Alex Sirieys.

With a view to a post-pandemic scenario, Andrew Pakes from Prospect developed his ideas for campaigns on workers’ data rights. It is key that workers demand more transparency regarding the use of data and possible sources of discrimination. Data is power, and to fight the power imbalance between employers and workers, unions need to “renew” themselves and reach out to workers in the tech industry.

Andrew also put across a crucial point: “GDPR is based on individual privacy, we need to gear towards a collective approach to privacy as well “.

The various presentations highlighted the necessity for unions to engage in the discussion about AI at the workplace and this was echoed by the participants. Training for workers’ representatives on issues such as data rights, surveillance or digital disconnection and enabling them to pro-actively negotiate on AI related topics must be the top priority for unions now.