GDPiR: Managing Data Processing in the Workplace through Industrial Relations


2022 - 2024

Project number:

This project has received financial support from the European Union

In a Communication issued in 2016, the EC stated that “data is at the centre of the future knowledge economy and society”. Actually, datafication is one of the main features of the modern world – and the Coronavirus crisis clearly demonstrates the point – but also of the modern world of work and the ongoing Fourth Industrial Revolution (i.e. AI; IoT and people analytics). The use of data and big data is becoming pervasive in any business, ranging from the traditional manufacturing sector (Industry 4.0) and the gig economy.

In these contexts, the use of data produced in the workplace or during the execution of work is growing in importance to inform business decision-making on organisational and HRM practices: sometimes, also automated processes are deployed. Subsequently, workers, both as individuals and members of a group, are directly impacted and trade unions at national and international level are becoming increasingly aware of the need to play a role in the management of data processing in the workplace (UNI Global Union, 2018; but, also, Business Europe and ETUC, 2020). Therefore, they are starting to understand that risks and potentials of data go hand in hand, so that a defensive approach against the risks of pervasive control on workers should be integrated by a proactive approach to ensure that data are used to the benefit of both firms’ and workers’ interests.

However, this will be possible only if trade unionists and workers’ representatives, at different levels, have specific knowledge of the possible uses of data by businesses, the legal prerogatives they are entitled with and the role they should play in this field, by also having regard for the normative framework of data processing in workplaces. Stemming from this background, the idea underlying this project is to provide workers’ representatives with adequate information and training in order to manage the dynamics connected to workers' data processing and overall data processing in the workplace.

Providing workers’ organisations with the proper skills to effectively address the challenges posed by data and big data (IA, IoT, people analytics), thus contributing to fill a gap in the praxis of industrial relations, is the main rationale of GDPiR: Managing Data Processing in the Workplace through Industrial Relations. By deepening the issues related to data processing in the workplace and, specifically, the role and prerogatives exerted by trade unions and workers’ representatives, GDPiR aims at improving collective bargaining and social dialogue initiatives in this field and enhancing the adoption of collective solutions for the protection of workers’ rights in the midst of technological surveillance and a sustainable digital transformation.

The objectives of this project include:

1. To research and analyse social dialogue and collective bargaining practices related to data processing in the workplace, especially in the light of the introduction of new digital technologies.

2. To identify and examine different countries’ legal frameworks on workers' data processing and the role and prerogatives institutionally acknowledged to trade unions and workers' representatives on the subject (e.g. regarding new ICTs introduction in the workplace);

3. To foster dialogue between different workers’ organisations in Europe regarding data processing in the workplace so as to promote a consistent and proactive approach to the issue: the possible role of EWCs in this domain will be considered, too.

4. To promote collaboration between scholars and practitioners on data processing, considering the persistent lack of knowledge of the issue among trade unionists and its increasing importance in modern workplaces.

5. To provide workers’ representatives and trade unionists with the skills required to effectively negotiate and participate in the process of digital transformation with specific reference to datafication.

6. To improve social dialogue processes and generate cooperative dynamics and win-win solutions at bargaining tables, by making negotiating parties (i.e. workers’ representatives) more competent, reliable and trustworthy.

7. To build and circulate, for the benefit of workers’ representatives and stakeholders (even those not taking part in this project), Guidelines on the negotiation of data processing, a Comparative Assessment Report and country-fiches gathering the national and European rules governing these processes and the best practices of negotiation over data processing in the workplace in 15 selected countries.

8. To disseminate and discuss, via traditional communication channels and social media (i.e. #AskTheExpert webinar), publications and events, the findings and lessons of the project with the main stakeholders from the countries involved as well as across the whole EU (including at the EU level), in order to promote transnational learning and inform policy-making processes for a just digital transition in Europe.

The lead partner of the project is the Italian Metalworkers Federation of the CISL, the Italian Confederation of Workers' Unions.


Publications will be presented soon

Project partners:


Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

La Federación de Industria, Construcción y Agro de la Unión General de Trabajadoras y Trabajadores

HIVA - Research Institute for Work and Society

University of Amsterdam

Izmir Katip Çelebi University

urkiye Metal, Celik, Muhimmat, Makina, Metalden Mamul Esya ve Oto, Montaj ve Yardimci Isciler Sendik

Central European Labour Studies Institute (CELSI)

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