Digital Team

Jan Brauburger wants to increase worker participation as part of new digital team

05.07.2024 | Jan Brauburger joined the IG Metall Berlin team in February 2024. Together with his four colleagues, he helps workers in the digital economy to set up works councils and negotiate collective agreements. Read more in the interview.

Jan Brauburger in action (Pics: IGM)

Jan, you have been part of the Digital Team at IG Metall Berlin since February. What is the Digital Team all about?  

The Digital Team is a project team that focuses on unionising companies in Berlin's digital economy. IG Metall Berlin was commissioned by the IG Metall Executive Board to set up works councils in companies in Berlin's digital economy and to promote collective bargaining coverage in order to significantly improve working conditions for our colleagues in this sector. Today, the team consists of four colleagues: Sabrina Lamers, Sandra Rullich and Christian Meyer. Sören Lieske will join us in July and we will be ready to take off.  

How did you develop this special interest in the digital economy?  

The digital economy has been with me in my two previous jobs. For three years I worked for IndustriAll Europe, the umbrella organisation of industrial trade unions in Europe, in Brussels on current legislative projects at the EU Commission, including the AI Regulation and the Digital Markets Act. Together with European Works Councils, we sought solutions on how legislative proposals can effectively regulate the realities of work and prioritise worker participation, even in a workplace influenced by artificial intelligence. I also coordinated the industry network for the information and communication technology sector, which put me at the interface of industrial policy. That was very helpful. 

I then went to work for the IG Metall executive in the strategic development department. My focus there was on companies with little or no union structure and the organised effort to get good collective agreements.  

So is it fair to say that your role in the Digital Team is more hands-on?   

In my previous professional life, I have always taken the interests of employees into account. A good example is the EU Artificial Intelligence Act. What about the liability of the software engineers who develop the algorithm? Could they be held responsible if the AI makes mistakes? After all, this technology is developing rapidly. All of this raises the question of how we can protect the colleagues who program the software. Of course, those directly involved know best. I have always been fascinated by the idea of using their experience-based expertise to facilitate and design concrete improvements in their working reality.  

How did you settle in Berlin?  

I've lived in Berlin for 12 years, although I've also spent time in Brussels and Frankfurt. So I didn't have to get used to the city. I'm very happy to be part of the IG Metall Berlin team. Berlin is the hot spot of the digital economy. We are currently talking about 145,000 employees that we can address in Berlin alone. If the forecasts come true, there will be around 300,000 jobs in this sector in ten years' time. It is very important for me to work with my colleagues to ensure good working conditions in the digital economy.  

Could you give a brief assessment of the general working conditions in the digital sector?   

We see many exploitative practices in this industry for a wide range of companies. The sector is highly mobile, attracting people from countries with much lower socio-economic standards. They have experience of very different structures of participation and trade union traditions. In some countries, trade unionists are persecuted when they become active. These are imprints that colleagues bring with them. That is why it is important that we work together to change the culture in this sector.  

So you and your team are already in the middle of your project?  

We started our project from the very beginning. Companies like CARIAD already have well-established structures and collective agreements. The collective agreement on job security at CARIAD at the beginning of this year showed our strength in the industry and that we can achieve something big together with our colleagues. We are building on existing structures. The exciting thing is that we can now approach many companies in the digital economy with a powerful team of five, and send a signal to employees: We have significant resources to support you on the road to greater worker participation and good collective agreements! But it's also clear that this won't be a walk in the park. The initial ambition for change must come from the workers themselves. The union is only as strong as its representation in the companies. We are not in a position to engage in representative politics. The offer we can make is this: If you want to improve your working conditions, if you want good arrangements for remote working and sabbaticals, if you want pay transparency, reliable pay rises and recognition for your work, then join IG Metall.  

How would you describe yourself? 

I am a committed trade unionist and have been politically active for many years. Working with colleagues to improve working conditions has always been a major interest of mine. I studied History and Islamic Studies. Even during my studies I had contacts with trade unions in the Middle East (Egypt, Lebanon, Israel) and carried out field research. I helped set up structures at an early stage and experienced cultural particularities. Trade union membership runs in my family, starting with my great-grandfather. That's how I see myself politically. I enjoy dealing with people and working together to get things done. 


Created by: aw; transl.: fs

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