Just Transition and the Renewable Energy Industry – to What Extent Does the German Energiewende Consider Decent Work and Job Quality?


The paper refers to the concept of Just Transition and examines the corresponding interface of energy and labour policies in the German renewable energy industry, a subject which has received only little attention in the political and scientific debates surrounding the German Energiewende. On the one hand, the renewable energy industry directly and indirectly benefits from various forms of state support. On the other hand, unions criticize below-average wages, widespread agency work, underdeveloped employee representation and co-determination, low coverage of collective agreements, a poor gender balance and low apprenticeship ratio. Several technology manufacturing companies have been blamed for trade union busting. Focusing on wind turbine manufacturing, the paper explores to what extent labour and other social sustainability concerns get integrated into energy policy formulation, implementation and monitoring. It examines perspectives of good governance and �sustainable content� policies seeking to link financial support to socially and environmentally sustainable production. The findings suggest that current energy policy concepts and renewable energy support policies do only marginally address job quality and decent work. Social conditionalization of financial support, as demanded by unions and other actors, have not entered the political agenda so far. Job quality criteria are increasingly integrated into regional business development support and public procurement, but have not the potential (yet) to substantially facilitate the institutionalization of collective labour relations, partly due to the market power of the wind turbine manufacturing companies.

Author Information
Michael Krug, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

Paper Information
Conference: ECSEE2016
Stream: Social Sustainability and Social Justice

This paper is part of the ECSEE2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon