Strikes right in the Twenty-first Century

Note published on April 21 in Expansión, Opinión  [Opinion] Section by Blanya Correal
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I am convinced that the right of the workers to have proper working conditions is a fair right; beyond that, I even believe that if companies do not focus on ensuring that said conditions achieve the objective of truly connecting and inspiring people, then not only are we risking conflict, but we definitively cannot think about better results or productivity.

Nevertheless, in this context, I believe that some of the mechanisms often used to achieve this are still rudimentary and very much stuck in the past … such as strikes.

I am not unaware of their legal validity, but it makes me think that right in the Twenty-first Century humans are still solving problems in the same manner as centuries ago. But evolving is not that simple and the first thing is to identify the root causes of this situation.

In this sense, the first question is: why is it that, being in the Twenty-first Century, workers have to continue fighting for better working conditions? Since the industrial age, many decades ago now, we started learning that the work environment is a determining factor for obtaining good results.

We have also learned that every action has its reaction; if we mistreat our collaborators, they will react seeking other employment alternatives or, if they remain, they will be unmotivated or conflictive.

Why do we have to wait for conflict to arise to make a decision to improve working conditions?

The labor reform brought us a reality that we are still understanding, the voice of the workers is an important voice in the business; in the end, companies are human groups and, therefore, people should be the center of the business activity, not as a discourse, but as a true priority.

On the other hand, unions also have the responsibility to evolve; to continue thinking that the best way to exert pressure in order to achieve their goals is through strikes shows that the negotiation reasonings are inefficient. There are undoubtedly many scenarios in which the collective bargaining review tables find resistance to the improvement of conditions, and more so in a country in which much of the competitive advantage has centered on low labor costs.

However, analyzing the requests made in negotiations and the elements included in petition documents, it can be seen that, on occasion, it is more about bargaining than about a claim based on the analysis of the real possibilities of the business and the needs of the people.

The underlying problem probably lies in the fact that the company and the union, as parties of the collective review on the table, are focused only on their objective of defending the interests of those whom each one represents. As a company we celebrate when we achieve a negotiation below the budget and as a union, when we manage to beat the employer.

Negotiation models from the past and focused on winning-losing, but in employment relationships this approach is always “paid back” on the following round and, thus, trust is lost, turning the revision into a game of sagacious strategies and tactics.

We should therefore transform the negotiation tables and exchange them for a continuous process of understanding the needs of the people and the businesses, evolve from bargaining to an honest exercise that allows the construction of a solution that seeks to improve results within the organization through the improvement of the conditions under which people perform their jobs.

In order to achieve this, we cannot sit down once a year for a revision, we need a process with an increased communication and interaction between the company and the union, with joint exercises for listening to the needs of the people and understanding the challenges faced by the business.

Acting responsibly and not seeking to gain an advantage in such a manner that, in the end, we are able to take care of the people, the organization and the country, to continue being a destination for foreign investment and business development.