‘Life goes on’, ‘The GRID’, ‘Al(l)one’ and ‘The lost cake’ tell different stories of possible futures for worker participation in Europe and how people might act within (quickly) changing contexts. Here we provide you with a brief overview of what happens in each the four scenarios.


Life goes on

The economic crisis has more or less been overcome – it’s time to pick up the pieces. Pragmatism, concession-bargaining and ad hoc fixes are the order of the day. Trade unions and works councils become sought-after partners to manage the permanent (and often painful) structural change. Power increasingly shifts towards the local level. To stop membership losses, unions successfully concentrate on their (potential) core members and develop additional services for them. The bodies and types of interest representation – even by trade unions – are, however, advantageous only for the shrinking part of people who manage to establish a stable personal position in the labour market and companies.


Today’s multiple crises and the day-to-day experiences of mutual (inter)dependency ultimately pave the way for increased cooperation on the most urgent global issues and a new balance between economy and ecology to ensure sustainability. Trade unions and works councils are pro-actively promoting the ‘necessary changes’ by opening and integrating further perspectives. Many actors are involved in shaping a new global body politic, step by step reaching a critical mass of unstoppable changes. Actors are controlled through a high degree of transparency and interrelatedness which makes deviation from the rules a risky undertaking.


Today’s multiple crises serve as a catalyst for personal change. A growing number of individuals leave traditional paradigms of ‘industrial working society’ behind them – be it voluntarily or not. Life is increasingly happening in groups and networks based on trust and relationships. New forms of participation spread and refreshed solidarity shows up in the way people deal with each other. The trade unions have little to offer to these people and in many countries they are dying quietly in these years – almost unnoticed like the fading of a song. But the people formerly involved in unions are now active in other networks and initiatives..

Lost cake

After some years of relative recovery the global economic crisis comes back, driven among other things by the arrival of Peak Oil, overburdened public households and an increasingly stressed environment. Poverty and anger rise and soon create a charged atmosphere which is mainly directed against the perceived guilty ones and winners of the crisis. People don‘t trust the old institutions anymore and everybody tries to get the best out of the situation for his group and ultimately for himself. Also, in workplaces bargaining processes radicalise people and (the threat of) violence is increasingly considered a legitimate tool.

In the book, 'Worker Participation 2030,' the scenarios are presented in three forms, offering different ways of approaching the four worlds: scenario summaries, full scenarios and short-stories, which offer a personal perspective on each individual future. Which one suits best depends on specific purpose, time available but also personal preferences: the summaries presented integrate the key developments and dynamics of each scenario, whereas the ‘full scenarios’ explain in more detail what happened and why. Finally, short-stories provide a more personal way of approaching the scenarios by listening to someone who lives in this future.