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The Fourth Industrial Revolution and Labor Relations: Labor-management Conflict Issues and Union Strategies in Western Advanced Countries

Lee Byoung-Hoon 1

1중앙대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The 4th Industrial Revolution, symbolizing the explosive innovation of digital technologies, is expected to have a great impact on labor relations and produce a lot of contested issues. The labor-management issues, created by the 4th Industrial Revolution, are as follows: (1) employment restructuring, job re-allocation, and skill-reformation, driven by the technological displacement, resetting of worker-machine relationship, and negotiation on labor intensity and autonomy, (2) the legislation of institutional protection for the digital dependent self-employed, derived from the proliferation of platform-mediated labor, and the statutory recognition of their ‘workerness’, (3) unemployment safety net, income guarantee, and skill formation assistance for precarious workeforce, (4) the protection of worker privacy from workplace surveillance, (5) protecting labor rights of the digital dependent self-employed and prcarious workers and guaranteeing their unionization and collective bargaining. In comparing how labor unions in Western countries have responded to the 4th Industrial Revolution, German unions have showed a strategic approach of policy formation toward digital technological innovations by effectively building and utilizing diverse channel of social dialogue and collective bargaining, while those in the US and UK have adopted the traditional approach of organizing and protesting in attempting to protect the interest of platform-mediated workers (i.e. Uber drivers). In light of the best practice demonstrated by German unions, it is necessary to build the process of productive policy consultation among three parties- the government, employers, and labor unions – at multi levels (i.e. workplace, sectoral and national levels), in order to prevent the destructive damage as well as labor-management confrotation, caused by digital technological innovations. In such policy consultation procesess, moreover, the inclusive and integrated approach is required to tackle with diverse problems, derived from the 4th Industrial Revolution, in a holistic manner.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.