Our Workers’ Council – To guide and counsel!

23. Oct 2017 | People + Business

Never at a loss: the Workers' Council is intended to serve all employees by dispensing advice and assistance, and is a vital part of the company. The Workers' Council is legally rooted in the German Works Constitution Act (BetrVG). According to this legislation, companies of a particular size or above are obliged to set such a council up. True to the saying that “anyone who wants to talk needs a voice”, the Workers' Council represents the interests of all employees. This makes working on the council both exciting and fascinating. I’d like to give you all a sneak peek into our work on the Workers' Council at Herth+Buss.

The Workers' Council at Herth+Buss currently comprises nine members. The number of members is determined by the number of staff at the company.

Stereotype and the reality

It’s obvious that the number of opinions and differences grows as the company does. “The Workers' Council only looks out for itself, they always take the side of the Management!” say some. “The Workers' Council blocks important corporate decisions!” say others.

After four years on the Workers' Council, including a spell at the helm, I can safely say that neither of these opinions is true. In order to prevent this stereotype from coming true, we need close, trustful cooperation with the Management. In addition to that a constant communication with all interest groups is very important. A company is like a microcosm of society. The opinions and views on different topics are accordingly complex. The position of employees relative to the Management makes the remit of the Workers' Council political. It’s therefore important that as many departments as possible are represented on the Workers' Council Committee. A healthy gender balance is essential, of course. This is also the reason why we decided against having a full-time Workers' Council.

Betriebsrat_Herth+Buss_Gemeinschaft_Betriebsratsvorsitzender_03-2

Here our employees can submit their suggestions and concerns – all anonymously, of course.

Area of responsibility – We represent the opinions of our employees

As Chairman of the Workers' Council, the responsibility for organising meetings falls to me. What’s more, I am the Spokesman for the Decision-Making Committee of our Workers' Council. The Workers' Council concludes company agreements with the Management and organises the election of representatives for employees with severe disabilities. It participates in the Economic Committee and holds wage negotiations with the Management, to name just a few tasks. If an employee requests it, we also take part in staff appraisals. Apart from this, we are not only involved in the appointment of staff: we also cast an eye over dismissals. In general, we aim to ensure a balance of interests and provide suggestions. We also have the opportunity to speak with everyone involved confidentially and – above all – frankly. In doing so, we don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. What we do always concerns the company in a social sense, with a view to the greater good of all.

Guaranteeing transparency and providing information – Our Workers' Council newsletter

We use our internal newsletter to inform employees about important matters. These include the survey on occupational health management and information on staff meetings. So our work is very varied, as you can see! The balancing act between representing the interests of our employees, adhering to important regulations and the corporate responsibility of our Executive Management is sometimes a real challenge. And that’s precisely what makes our work on the Herth+Buss Workers' Council so exciting!

To sum things up in what is (in my opinion) a very apt fashion, I would like to quote the former President of the German Bundestag:

“It can and must always resound in the common – yet not always present – consciousness that a vibrant democracy is not defined by the fact that majorities ultimately decide matters, but rather by the fact that minorities are able to exercise their rights in the process of making a decision.”
– Valediction of Prof. Dr. Norbert Lammert

This is an opportune moment to make a segue back to the topic of corporate decision-making:
We want to be a “vibrant” company! Our employees should always have the opportunity to participate when our Executive Management makes important decisions.