Why cooperation and dialogue at workplaces is important


Having concluded Q1 of 2022 with very interesting results, we asked the SWP Global Programme Director Alessandra Cornale:

Why is cooperation and dialogue at workplace level so important?

“It is all about the win-win-win!

We know that cooperation between management and employees brings about solutions to challenges that are crucial for the sustainability of business, while creating a dynamic work environment with healthy personnel where innovation can flourish. With the right conditions for dialogue in place, companies are better equipped to drive sustainability and inclusive transformation.

It is key to address transitional shifts such as the digital, the green and Industry 4.0 to secure future competence, investments, and inclusive economic development. Hence, companies cannot afford to neglect the power of inclusion and cooperation at the workplace.

All this requires inclusive leadership, and therefore we truly believe that partnership is the new leadership!”

SWP Global Programme Director Alessandra Cornale
With the right conditions for dialogue in place, companies are better equipped to drive sustainability and inclusive transformation.

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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.

Based on this shop steward upskilling, I feel confident that as a union we now have change ambassadors that will grow the industry, protect, and promote decent work principles for both the employer and the employees represented. And that disputes will be dealt with at the workplace level by though consultative dialogue.

Rose Omamo

General Secretary
Amalgamated Union of Kenya Metal Workers