The Swedish Workplace Programme (SWP) is built on a partnership between the International Council of Swedish Industry (NIR) and the Metal and Industrial workers union, IF Metall.
IF Metall is national Swedish Trade Union organising blue-collar workers within the manufacturing sector. Our membership is approximately 300 000 and we represent about 77% of all blue-collar workers in the sectors where we organise.
Metal and Industrial workers union, IF Metall provide expertise and experience in the Swedish Model – specifically in Social dialogue as it is proven method in achieving decent work. The collaboration is also using the unions’ experience in industrial relations with global companies. The collaboration with the three parties (companies, unions and employees) is often used in Workplace Programmes and IF Metall supports the dialogue structure needed.
Trade unions and companies represent different interests. Unions main role is to represent workers, protect their interest and strive for as good and safe working conditions as possible. Companies role is to provide owners and shareholders return on their investments, but at the end of the day a pre-condition for both parties/stakeholders is that the company is successful and profitable. If not, there will be nothing for workers and their unions to negotiate, no dividends to the owners/shareholders.
Dialogue and cooperation between trade unions and companies/employers is core and essential for us as a trade union. Dialogue and cooperation are the tool for development of a company and their ability to compete on the market and by then give conditions for improvement of working conditions. By self-experienced evidence, we know that dialogue and cooperation is beneficial for workers, for companies and as well for society as a whole! It’s a Win, Win, Win situation!
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A lack of enabling environment for social dialogue at the workplace level, despite the provision of legislative acts that protect and promote workplace cooperation is a reoccuring issue in Kenya. To implement good policy there must be a fertil ground.
Therefore SWP developed the UP! project. Together with Swedish companies as an entry point, and with unions i South africa and Kenya.
In Kenya SWP created the SWP UP! Programme targeting skills development of the union Shop Stewards from 18 companies in the Automotive sector in Kenya during 2021. As a result, the Stewards were able to use their skills to build trust and cooperation with management in new ways to avoid conflicts.
A second cohort of training, in close cooperation with union AUKMW, takes place in 2022.
The training allows shop stewards to step out of their daily routines and understand their role and the purpose of their union, understand the labour market context, the laws that regulate relationships and the business itself. But on a human level, many shop stewards also highlighted that they feel respected as human beings, and that they have developed the skills to engage with supervisors and management and experience respect in professional relations. The experiences had deeply impressed them and helped to project the vision of dialogue and mutual respect and their own potential as a means to change workplaces.
The intervention of the SWP programme had a direct effect at the workplaces, where shop stewards listed several cases where they had managed to intervene and secure results in dialogue with management, avert crises or find solutions based on opportunities and the communication skills obtained during the SWP training. For the Amalgamated Metal Workers Unions in Kenya, the shop stewards pointed to how the training had enabled them to design their own strategies at the workplace in relation to supervisors and staff, and to achieve many concrete results.