16.02.2023 | The change from industry to information economy is changing the meaning of "office work" and requires new working methods - the opportunities and challenges that arise from this were discussed by 320 active unionist at the 22nd IG Metall conference of non-production workers from February 12 to 14, 2023 in Willingen. The focus was on employee empowerment and the question of how IG Metall can continue to be diverse and effective in the future.
The space for networking and exchanging ideas about modern representation of interests, the latest developments in companies, and the design of good work in the digital world of work was actively used. "The solidarity of standing together to achieve the goals - whether it's preserving jobs or improving working conditions - were the highlight for me at the event. The solidarity action for Vestas was very impressive and moving!", said Susan Fuchs, works council member at Thales in Berlin and continued: "For the work on site, I take new impulses and momentum with me to tackle things in the company. I hope to maintain the network to exchange ideas about the problems and to gather new ideas."
The great solidarity action for the Vestas colleagues, who have been on strike since November, also impressed other participants of the conference. Wind turbines are manufactured at Vestas in the Coastal District of IG Metall. "My highlight at the conference was the solidarity action for Vestas. It reminded me again of our own struggle at Atos to achieve a proper negotiation result. Works councils urgently need an extension of co-determination rights in economic decisions made by companies," said Uwe Große, a works council member at Atos in Berlin.
Christiane Benner - second chairwoman of IG Metall - focused on the importance of employees in the context of the transformation of the labor market and demanded: "In times of artificial intelligence, agile work and metaverse, we cannot work with laws that date back to the time of landline phones with a dial or computers that were as big as a single-family house! We demand contemporary co-determination rights!"
In the discussion between the conference participants with Prof. Dr. Enzo Weber - Institute for Employment Research (IAB) - and Jörg Hofmann - First Chairman of IG Metall - aspects such as qualification, immigration and tasks for interest groups and trade unions were discussed. It became clear that, particularly in the context of retraining, many employee groups can and must also be considered in the context of transformation. Many of the collective agreements for the future reflect this claim of the active unionist.
Conference participants were also able to immerse themselves in the "metaverse" and then discuss the possible applications in industry and the opportunities for Germany as a development location. A metaverse is a digital space created by the interaction of virtual, augmented and physical reality.
Finally, the operational work with employees was discussed by conference participants and Christiane Benner as well as Wolfgang Lemb (Member of the IG Metall Executive Board) on a panel. Tanja Schneider - chairwoman of the works council at IAV in Berlin - focused in this discussion on the fact that participation is the recipe for success in shaping change.
With a lot of energy and new impulses, the conference participants went back to their companies and felt confirmed in the knowledge that IG Metall is a driving force and power in the transformation. "I took away with me the good feeling that IG Metall is well equipped for the challenges of the future. We are not alone if there are or should be disputes with the employer again," said Michael Höft, a works council member at Bosch IO in Berlin, summing up the conference positively.