Mechanical engineering is of central importance for many sectors since it produces products which enable those other sectors to produce.
According to a study by the Deutsche Bank, that importance will only increase, since mechanical engineering occupies a central position in the development and manufacture of products on which great hopes are placed for the age after oil. Solar energy, photovoltaics, wind power - all of those products were developed and made competitive by mechanical engineering.
The energy crisis can be solved and a climatic disaster avoided only if the global energy mix follows the laws of sustainability more closely. Mechanical and equipment engineering occupies a key position here, because it can generate the solutions that can ensure better energy supply in the future, impose less of a burden on the climate and prevent the cost of energy from further skyrocketing.
As a developer and supplier of "enabling technologies", machine and equipment engineering is involved in all three segments and will play a special role in the necessary modernization of the global power plant park, efficiency revolution in all fields of energy use in industry and by consumers and the development and marketing of new technologies for renewable energies.
The sector's central importance within the economical structure should also be reflected in the work of European and international union confederations. The beginnings for that have already been established - they need only to be taken up and expanded.
One of the most important tasks here will be to intensify union organizing in the sector. Present-day figures show that there still exists sufficient potential. It will not be easy, if only because of the varying structure of mechanical engineering, divided as it is among small and medium-sized enterprises. But not to take up the challenge would mean excluding a large number of employees, including highly skilled employees, as potential members. That certainly can not be in the interest of the unions or their representation of the workers.
To meet that challenge, new strategies must be developed, strategies which may also make discussions on a restructuring of international union work