06.10.2022 | For the first time, around 70 employees met on September 30 for the Tech Conference at the IG Metall building in Berlin. The Berlin Tech Workers Coalition, ver.di and IG Metall jointly invited them. The conference attendees are primarily English-speaking works council members and activists from Berlin tech companies. The goal of the conference was to build networks, exchange ideas and learn from each other.
Employees in tech companies face numerous challenges. Grievances in tech companies include salary (in)transparency, discrimination, high workload and stress, all of which have a negative impact on the health of employees, as well as organizational issues like corporate restructuring and mass layoffs. "The high number of participants who met in Kreuzberg through Friday evening shows the deep need for exchange," said Thomas Weber, political secretary of IG Metall Berlin. The vast majority of conference attendees are members of works councils that were recently established for the first time within the last two years. The members of these new works councils often experience similar challenges across companies: lack of information from the employer, disregard for co-determination rights of the works council, difficulty in addressing and involving employees in times of remote-work.
In the morning, interactive rounds in a participation-oriented format focused on getting to know each other, exchanging experiences and background information, and collecting questions and topics. In the afternoon, several workshops focused on the legal framework of works councils, workforce participation in the digital world of remote work, the limits of works councils in matters of changing salaries and the role of trade unions and collective agreements, changes in operations, mass layoffs and special rights works councils have in responding, and the particular challenges of migrant employees in (tech) companies. For example, migration visas are often linked to the employment contract, which leads to vulnerable uncertainties.
With upcoming events in the very near future, the conference organizers will meet the participants' desire for more networking and learning from each other.
"We are very pleased with our first English-language conference for Berlin tech employees. The higher participation rate and lively discussions showed how important the exchange is to our colleagues - employees in the tech world also face major challenges. These range from a lack of salary transparency, high workloads and mass layoffs. Until now, newly elected works councils were lacking networking opportunities" said Thomas Weber.