News

22.03.2017

Working Worlds 4.0: "Turning those affected into participants"

The ZVEI talks to Uta Reinhard, Chairwoman of the Works Council at Phoenix Contact at the Blomberg location, about the possibilities of helping to shape the digital change in the company at an early stage.

Industrie 4.0 creates smart working environments
©ZVEI

Shaping digital change in the works council at an early stage

At best, employees and companies work together to shape this change in the interests of the employees - as is the case with Phoenix Contact, a family-owned company in the electrical industry. Through participation, those affected become participants.

4500 employees work at the headquarters in Blomberg, North Rhine-Westphalia. They develop, distribute and produce industrial connection technology, electronic plugs, terminal blocks and devices for overvoltage protection. They are all more or less affected by the digital change in their own companies: Technologically previously unthinkable things are gradually becoming reality. This often makes work easier, but also brings with it new worries and fears about one's own workplace.

Uta Reinhard knows her colleagues and her employer well: in 1990, she started as an employee in production, and since 2010 she has been Chairman of the Works Council at the Blomberg site. In order to implement Industrie 4.0 in the company, it is important that employees can participate and pull together with the company. "As a works council, we have to take a close look early on; we have to document what is changing in order to take people with us right from the start - be it through further training or transfer," says Reinhard. She knows: "Some of the jobs we have in the company today will no longer exist in the future. We must be open to new technologies, because progress cannot be stopped."

Together with colleagues and management, Reinhard is looking for strategies to constructively accompany digital change and help shape it for the benefit of employees. One of their tasks, for example, is to negotiate works agreements adapted to Industrie 4.0. "At our company, we know that Industrie 4.0 cannot be successfully implemented without employees and mutual respect," says Reinhard.

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