Changing the Workplace

Changing the Workplace

The programme works with Numsa and Ceppwawu and partners with the education section of the German trade union federation, DGB.  It has focused on doing workplace research into certain German companies in the metals and chemical sectors.

Workplace change

The programme works with Numsa and Ceppwawu and partners with the education section of the German trade union federation, DGB.  It has focused on doing workplace research into certain German companies in the metals and chemical sectors. The resulting reports identify issues and problems with working conditions in the plants. They recommend actions to begin resolving them. And they provide background and information on how the company fits into the wider economy.

Central to the process was the involvement of shop stewards themselves, who gathered the information and did the research for these reports using participatory action research (PAR) tools. The results show widespread job stress and insecurity, racism and inequality and health and safety dangers in the workplace.

The research took place during 2009. Shop stewards were equipped with various mapping tools. Body mapping allows workers to collectively identify their pain/discomfort (physical and emotional) at work, including the causes and remedies. Workplace hazard mapping involves drawing a factory or department map highlighting what hazards workers face. Both these tools worked well where shop stewards made the time to engage groups of workers. Workforce mapping looks at the organisation of workers, identifying discrimination and demands for change. Supply chain mapping was about supplier companies and customers. Throughout participants were encouraged to develop the most important issues for action with workers involvement (action planning). Using these tools shop stewards made their investigations.

In the process implemented in the ECape further tools were employed and there was an intensive workshop on health and safety.

The strength of the methods used lies not only in the research results but in how this encourages shop stewards to get greater worker involvement. In this we saw some new confidence and involvement of both shop stewards and workers in trade union organisation. There was greater active involvement in health and safety issues and stronger engagement with management.

Building on some of the lessons learnt through applying the method, the intention has been to do further work centred on groups of workplaces in locals.

A further aim and purpose of the project is to build stronger links with workers internationally.

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