Making South Africa's Migration to Fourth Industrial Revolution Just for Workers: A Lesson from the Just Energy Transition Framework to a Low-carbon Economy

Two parallel developments are taking place in South Africa that are of key significance to workers. On the one hand are calls for a move from traditional fossil-fuel energy generation to a greener, cleaner low carbon emissions energy generation. On the other is the country’s looming embrace of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). Both developments require organised labour to be very active and engage with other stakeholders in ensuring that both these developments do not compromise workers interests. To this end, labour has been engaging with multiple stakeholders in advocating for and implementing a Just Energy Transition to a low-carbon economy to ensure that the interests of workers and communities are taken care of and are not sacrificed in the transition. As far as the 4IR is concerned, labour has not yet come up with a clear and consensus-based position on how to deal with the revolution. It is against this backdrop that this article makes a case that the labour related tenets of a Just Transition in the energy sector apply to a migration to the 4IR. The proposal of what should constitute a just transition to the 4IR should mirror that of the transition to a low-carbon economy that is based on the four pillars of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Decent Work Agenda. The four pillars are, social dialogue, social protection, rights at work and employment protection and creation. This the key lesson that labour can draw from the energy transition space and use it to make the migration to the 4IR in the country just.