The challenge of technology and sustainability of trade unions 
Speaker: Shri. Sudhershan Rao Sarde 
Date and Time:
January 20, 2018, 4:00 – 6:00 PM Venue: CWS Conference Hall,
12-13-438, Street No. 1, Tarnaka, Secunderabad - 500017 

Workplaces are becoming increasingly flexible and various models are being evolved and developed to push strategic and resilient dimensions, with leaner and meaner business organizations, in response to competitive marketplaces. Path-breaking technological advancements in automation, robotics and artificial intelligence coupled with revolutionary strides in information and communication technology, have facilitated unhindered flow of capital, goods, services and data, promoted by an overarching neo-liberal socio-political framework. Industry 4.0 or the 4th industrial revolution is substantially impacting, and even disrupting, traditional industrial manufacturing models.

Trade unions to survive as institutions of social change have to confront and complement these challenges; otherwise, the survival of the unions is at stake --- they still have a role to safeguard labour interests, in the field of health, for example. Technological innovations and re-organization of production and manufacturing processes have evolved since the industrial revolution, with trade unions successfully adapting to the ever changing workplace dynamics, rendering them to remain socially relevant. The coming digitalization has far reaching implications without historical precedents.

Therefore, trade unions have to explore innovative methods of organizing to unite individual, crowd workers, platform workers, self-employed, home based, outsourced and informal workers in addition to the regular workers, making use of the same technologies that mark production, so as to protect and advance the rights and entitlements of the working people, and further the common good of society at large. This presentation tries to examine, whether trade unions would live up to the challenges of the technological advancements to benefit all strata of society, in any case, it is the labour who contribute to production and wealth.



Sudhershan Rao Sarde has been associated with the trade union movement for thirty eight years,and  worked with national trade unions and trade union groups across India. As Joint Convener of Central Universities Employees Coordination Committee, he worked towards rationalizing working and service conditions of Central University employees on par with Central Government Employees. As Working President of Steel Metal and Engineering Workers Federation and Member, National Working Committee of HMS strived hard for improving the conditions of Metal Workers. As Regional Director of International Metal Workers Federation (IMF), he was responsible for advancing the cause of the Metal workers in the South Asian region. Since June 2015, he has been Chairman and Managing Director of Sarde Suvarna Sustainable Development & Training Private Limited and coordinating Trade Unions with Environmental Groups and Civil Society Organizations for Health, Environmental Concerns and sustainable Development through awareness camps, rights advocacy and collective action.


Sharing session is one of the regular activities of Knowledge In Civil Society (KICS) trust. These are organised around contemporary themes relevant to KICS work as an exercise of learning from each other. The objective is to deepen our shared understanding of the theme and to appreciate the key cross linkages, especially in the realm of Science, Technology & Society. You can find a list of previous sharing sessions here.