On 26 January, Eurogas was joined by the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) and industriAll Europe at the final conference of an EU-funded project on a Just Transition for gas workers. Trade unions, gas industry employers and representatives from European institutions all gathered to share knowledge, perspectives and best practices. They also heard the results of a special report by independent consultants Syndex on the challenges and opportunities for gas sector workers within the EU’s energy transition.
In short, this new report calls for new momentum that ensures a Just Transition for gas workers across Europe. Social dialogue, planning and investment will mean that employees from across the gas sector – but also from the petroleum and chemicals sectors – could be upskilled or re-skilled. A new dynamic for the gas sector as it decarbonises. The report also highlights a real need to get the skills in place for scaling up hydrogen and biomethane, as well as CCUS. As noted by Judith Kirton-Darling of industriALL Europe, “REPowerEU has massive ambitions in terms of biomethane and hydrogen targets. This will mean big changes.” The report notes that scaling up domestic production and renewable gases means equipping people with the skills they need to adapt to a rapidly changing job market, and to build a resilient EU workforce.
Syndex also adds that attracting and retaining diverse talent will mean strong communication with public authorities and people living in the EU, particularly workers and job seekers. “The good thing about Just Transition possibilities in the gas sector,” said Eurogas Secretary General James Watson, “is that we can move forward with good jobs for communities. By that, I mean unionised jobs.” Watson continued: “Our sector has a future. We have opportunities but we will need a lot of changes. And we will need social dialogue in our sector to bring about a Just Transition.”
Syndex’s report also makes the case that climate and social goals go hand-in-hand with gender and racial inclusion, and that in that regard, the workplace of the future should support equality and attract (and retain) the best talents. “This Just Transition report is about changing cultures,” added Eurogas Director of External Relations Bronagh O’Hagan. “Crucially, it gives recommendations like incorporating diversity and inclusion into performance reviews as a way of fostering diversity of thought and innovation.”
The event gathered a host of best practices from companies such as TotalEnergies and Floene, with numerous contributions from the European Commission in the areas of preparing for the jobs of tomorrow, and the tools and methodologies that will pave the way for a Just Transition. The keynote speech was also delivered by MEP Jens Geier. As for Eurogas, the association will now put in place a dedicated new Taskforce to work through the recommendations in the Syndex report, and feed into the EU Sectoral Social Dialogue for Gas – all the more important in 2023, the EU Year of Skills. For Eurogas Secretary-General James Watson, the finalisation of this EU project merely “marks the start of a new phase of collaboration. We are keen to see if we can put structure around our efforts through an EU framework agreement.”
Eurogas fact sheet | A Just Transition for the gas sector: inclusive, future-proof, flexible.