Industrial Europe welcomes the improvements secured in the text compared to previous drafts. These include explicitly allowing Member States to maintain or introduce laws that provide better protection for workers, including collective agreements. It also includes an obligation to inform workers and their trade unions about the introduction of high-risk AI systems in the workplace, which is a step forward. Unfortunately, this obligation does not extend to consultation with workers. Consultation of workers on the introduction of high-risk AI in the workplace has been relegated to a recital.
Ambiguities and loopholes remain in the proposed legislation. Workers will only be informed about the introduction of high-risk AI systems. An AI system is considered high risk if it causes 'significant harm' to fundamental rights. This leaves a lot of room for interpretation. It is also difficult to determine in advance and in concrete terms what constitutes a 'significant risk'.
Trade unions therefore continue to call for an appropriate regulatory framework, tailored to the specific challenges posed by AI in the workplace.
Specifically, unions are calling for an EU directive on algorithmic systems in the workplace that will:
- set European minimum standards for the use of AI systems in the work context
- ensure that AI systems are transparent and understood by workers
- ensure proper involvement of workers and their unions, including negotiated solutions
- give trade unions and workers' representatives the right to external expertise
- require employers to carry out impact assessment to assess the effect of AI systems on working conditions
- prohibit intrusive AI application that monitor workers
- ensure the human-in-command principle
Isabelle Barthès, Acting Joint General Secretary of industriAll Europe, commented:
"We welcome the improvements of the pending AI Act. But it is not enough for a world of work that is increasingly driven by AI, with potentially far-reaching consequences for workers and their jobs.
“We are therefore calling for a directive that provides for adequate information and consultation of workers before AI is introduced in the workplace, and for a legislative framework that provides robust protection for workers in the context of AI and a better understanding of employment-related risks.”