On April 13th/14th 2022, the SEC delegates from Germany, Czech Republic, UK, Austria, France, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Hungary, Belgium, Poland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Ireland, Bulgaria, Greece and Croatia met for their annual meeting. The delegates from Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Denmark were missing.
Harald Kern (Germany), the chairman of the SEC, opened the meeting. He underlined the symbolic meaning of The Hague (Den Haag) as venue of the meeting because of its importance as city of peace and justice, especially in times of war. Ron Arndts (Netherlands) welcomed the participants of the meeting and gave some information on the Netherlands. He also explained the system of employee representation in the Netherlands with its strong orientation on consent and compromise.
The delegates gave reports from their home countries. Many delegates mentioned the consequences of the Russian war in Ukraine for their countries and also the business situation. Other main issues were the interruption of supply chains first by anti-coronavirus measures, now by consequences of the war in Ukraine, the heavy increase of prices, especially for energy, the difficulties of staff recruitment and the massive workload of the employees. Several delegates also mentioned difficulties with digital applications and criticized the tool “Growth Talks”. In some countries, there is obviously the plan to outsource the payroll accounting to an external company. This issue was brought up by several delegates.
Birgit Steinborn, the chairwoman of the Central Works Council of Siemens Germany and also deputy chairwoman of the Supervisory Board of Siemens in Germany, opened her speech with a clear condemnation of the attack of the Russian army on Ukraine. She appreciated the initiatives of the Siemens management in this context, especially for the support of Ukrainian refugees. She pointed out, that the consequence of this war has to be the strengthening and expansion of democracy in Europe in every possible way. To her point of view, the future company strategy is not clear between more investment in Asia or in Europe.
She once more criticized the management´s decision to carve out the business field “Large Drive Applications” (LDA). She explained, that the employee representatives in Germany demand more co-determination and more vocational training for the employees instead of cut of jobs. She also mentioned the growing importance of Artificial Intelligence and the consequences for data protection and the entire work situation.
Harald Kern explained to the delegates, that Christian Schaller, delegate from Austria, speaker of the region Central and Eastern Europe and deputy chairman of the SEC, will retire in October, so this would be his last meeting. Christian has been working for Siemens for 50 years and has been member of the Works Council in Vienna for 43 years. The SEC delegates elected Kai Sann from Austria unanimously as new speaker of the region Central Eastern Europe.
Harald Kern and Romek Jagodziński, who will consult the SEC, presented the current status of the planned project of the SEC, for which the SEC will apply for EU sponsoring.
Then, the delegates prepared the different panels of the second day of the meeting. They gave their opinion on the issues “cultural change”, “Growth Talks”, “challenges at the workplace”, “chances or risks by change” and “Artificial Intelligence”.
On the second day, Mrs. Wiese, head of P&O (formerly HR), and other representatives of the management joined the meeting. Harald Kern opened the meeting and made some critical remarks regarding some developments at Siemens, such as the plan to carve out the business field “Large Drives” (LDA) or the increasing focus only on software. Mr. de Bilde, the CEO of Siemens Netherlands, gave some information on the activities and the current situation of Siemens in the Netherlands.
Siemens is present in the Netherlands since 1879. There are about 3 000 employees at Siemens in the Netherlands and especially a strong representation of DI Software. The business situation is very good; a major problem is the recruitment of new employees, mainly because of the low unemployment rate in the Netherlands. This is, why Siemens Netherlands looks for cooperation with universities and other educational institutions. Mr. de Bilde pointed out the good cooperation with the Works Council of Siemens Netherlands.
Mrs. Wiese informed the SEC delegates about the current situation at Siemens. She mentioned the activities of the management board of Siemens to support refugees from Ukraine and also for protection measures at the workplace against the corona virus. The business situation at Siemens is currently very good. She mentioned the sell-off of Yunex Traffic and Parcel Logistics. She sees the main challenges in the difficulties to recruit new skilled workforce. Especially for jobs in the digital sector, there are still not enough recruitments of women. She also mentioned new possibilities of flexible work including working from home and the platform “My Learning World” for vocational training. She indicated the 175th anniversary of Siemens in October of this year.
The SEC delegates discussed their questions with Mrs. Wiese. They addressed these issues: The discontent of the employees, especially in the Eastern European countries, because of low wages, women equality, the influence of the headquarter on local wage negotiations, the carve-out of “Large Drives” (LDA), the head count problem, which in some cases prevents recruitment of new workforce.
Mrs. Wiese said, that, in her opinion, the head count problem should be solved. The business managers should have an interest to do the best for their respective business. Dr. Neuhauser from P&O presented the tool “Growth Talks”.
Meanwhile, this has been introduced globally. The main intention of its introduction is the reduction of bureaucracy. The SEC delegates expressed mixed opinions on the tool “Growth Talks”. Especially the delegates from Austria and France criticized the missing documentation.
Mrs. Sake from P&O presented the tool “NextWork”. This tool is concerned with the future of work. It is designed as instrument to shape the transformation of industry and the entire working situation.
She gave some examples of successful application of “NextWork”. The tool is not very much known among the SEC delegates. Harald Kern and Bettina Haller (Germany; deputy chairwoman of the SEC) asked the delegates to ask for applications of “NextWork” in their home countries.
Dr. Waltinger from Siemens Advanta and Roland Konopac (SEC delegate from Germany) made a presentation on the topic “Artificial Intelligence”. They explained the meaning of “Artificial Intelligence” and showed the chances and risks of the technology. The delegates discussed various aspects of the subject with Dr. Waltinger and Roland Konopac.
Finally, the SEC delegates discussed internally their evaluation of the meeting. The next SEC meeting will be in the region “Central Eastern Europe” (CEE). The specific venue has yet to be defined.
Report: Dirk Linder