The leading food retail company Axfood has joined QuizRR's new blended learning program, aiming to increase capacity building and engagement in three of their supplying factories in China. By combining face to face training with e-learning solutions, Axfood is taking important steps towards improving workplace dialogue and worker representation in their supply chain.
Sandra Granath, Social Dialogue expert from QuizRR, answers questions about the learning module and possibilities with blended learning training.
Why should companies take actions to encourage and improve Social Dialogue at the workplace?
The right to collective bargaining is viewed as one the most pressing rights, which must be realized to enable workers to negotiate standards concerning safety, wages and labor standard. ILO has described Social Dialogue as the most efficient mechanism to improve working conditions and social justice and is a fundamental right recognized in various ILO conventions, the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights. So, to answer your question, companies should act to encourage and improve Social Dialogue at the workplace because it is a fundamental right of their employees.
What do you hope to achieve with the Worker Engagement training?
Workplace dialogue is an important first step towards increasing workers voice in factories operating in countries where this right is more difficult to recognize. Workplace dialogue is bipartite, taking place between workers and managers, and aims to improve worker involvement, engagement and dialogue at the workplace. With QuizRR’s Worker Engagement pilot we hope to improve workplace dialogue between management and workers and thereby improve working conditions in the factories.
What is the role of a worker representative?
A worker representative is elected by co-workers with the main responsibility to represent the voice of his/her colleagues to the management on committee meetings. Also (and as important), worker representatives help to solve problems on the work-floor on a daily basis. Worker representatives should be viewed as a more efficient way of solving problems than the existing grievance channels in the factories such as suggestions boxes, which are rarely used. They are there for the workers and their presence will make it easier for the supervisors and managers as well, decreasing the work burden for supervisors and making it easier for workers to access information in the factory.
What is blended learning?
In QuizRR’s blended learning program, Just Solutions Network (world leading experts in Social Dialogue), provides a fully trained and resourced trainer who together with the QuizRR Worker Engagement digital training will work on management awareness raising and engagement of worker representatives. The QuizRR solution will secure that all workers in the factory will have access to training in problem solving, nomination and election processes, the benefits of worker representatives and how increased dialogue have shared benefits for both the employees and the factory.
What are the benefits of blended learning compared to more traditional forms of learning?
Blended learning, combining digital media and classroom methods, is cost efficient, flexible and can collect valuable data to measure progress and increase accountability.
Eric Sun, CSR manager in China from Axfood, tells us that the three factories involved in the pilot had worker representatives but that they had not been given any training to perform their tasks.
There should be more worker representative involvements. We need to take actions after the pilot to make sure that the worker representatives are actively taking part in health and safety risk assessment and fire safety planning, he says.
Axfood has previously trained with QuizRR’s basic course Rights and Responsibilities, and have continued with Worker Engagement training to make sure that the workers in supplying factories have the possibility to affect their working condition.
Kristina Areskog Bjurling from Axfood similarly points out the importance of actively working increase awareness on workplace dialogue on the Chinese market.
We saw in the Rights & Responsibility training with QuizRR that the awareness is often low on workplace dialogue and we know Chinese workplaces generally have problems with including workers, which is key to get all other working conditions in place. That is why we started to train with QuizRR's Worker Engagement. In China, where free trade unions are restricted, we need to find other ways to make sure the workers get their voices heard. This will benefit the employers as well since it prevents unnecessary conflicts and escalation of disruptions, she told us.