Dialogue in China: 'WE II Project' Training in 4 Factories
Improving internal communication, worker negotiations, and addressing forced labor through social dialogue
[Article originally appeared in SAI's August 2011 newsletter | View WE-Social Quality official brochure]
On July 18 to July 22, 2011, as part of the “WE II Project” development partnership (PPP) by Tchibo GmbH and GIZ, WE II Project trainer Harrison Xu and the other team members led factory trainings across four factories in China’s Yangtze River Delta region to facilitate dialogue between workers and managers on workplace issues. Sixty-one workers and 22 managers participated in these trainings at four factories which produce garden crafts, garments, hats and candles. They are all suppliers to Tchibo GmbH.
The training focused on three main topics: worker communications and improving internal workplace dialogue; negotiation; and proactive practices to ensure against forced labor. The training was part of the third round of factory visits in the WE II Project. For the WEII Project from 2010 to 2012, there will have been a total of 6 factory visits and 4 workshops. The main goals for Mr. Xu and his Shanghai-based group of trainers were to guide the worker representatives and management representatives to help all of the factory’s workers and managers understand the core definition of forced labor, connect it with their own experiences, and implement practices to ensure against forced labor. This exercise also helps to build management’s capacity to self-assess compliance with labor standards related to forced labor.
To help improve internal dialogue, the top management and workers in each factory practiced face-to-face ‘dialogue’ meetings for sensitive issues, such as insufficient time for rest. This was especially productive, as it opened up a new channel for workers and managers to communicate and collaboratively address grievances. These exercises supported the establishment of face-to-face dialogue as the mechanism for top management and workers to communicate, avoid conflict, and improve relations.
At the end of the trainings, workers and managers were asked to analyze 23 real case studies (related to forced labor) and come up with solutions, based on using resources such as laws books and online databases. WE Trainers will follow up in September.
WE is a pilot project to improve working conditions at production facilities in Asia and was initiated in September 2007 by Tchibo GmbH and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) as a Public-Private Partnership (PPP). The project is co-financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The WE project training team in China consists of 12 trainers and is coordinated by Susa. SAI staff members Mr. Xu and Jane Liu lead SAI’s participation in the WE project as members of the WE training team.
WE aims to achieve far-reaching improvement in working conditions in Asian manufacturing sites, from which workers and managers will benefit permanently. The core element is to establish dialogue within the local companies. Additionally, WE supports the development of a local training infrastructure to multiply the training approach.
SAI is pleased to participate in the WE Project. It shares the approach of SAI’s Project Cultivar and of our earlier worker/manager programs in China - to enable workers and managers to drive sustainable improvement at the workplace, through locally-led training and facilitation of social dialogue. For more information on WE project learnings and trainer database, please visit www.we-socialquality.com, and on Project Cultivar, please see the article in the August 2011 newsletter.
For more information, please contact SAI Communications Manager, Joleen Ong - JOng@sa-intl.org.