Avebe

Avebe is a cooperative of starch-potato growers focused on the market. Traditionally we only focused on extracting starch from potatoes. However, by developing innovative methods we now also extract proteins from potatoes that are intended for the food industry. But there is more…. To us a potato is a source of opportunities with even more ingredients that can be turned into value. In other words, if it’s in there, we’ll extract it!

I'M PROUD
THAT WE CAN REALLY 
mean something for colleagues

Avebe and the Works Council: in the past it was not always a happy marriage. But times are changing and the ties between management and Works Council have been close in recent years. Last December there were Works Council elections and the Works Council was able to welcome new blood. Chairman Henk van Kalsbeek (Team Leader in Foxhol) and vice-chairman Herman Sanders (Main Operator Food Factory in Ter Apelkanaal) talk about the Works Council, the struggles of the past, the stability of the present and the challenges for the future.

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: GEERT KNIGGE, HERMAN SANDERS, HENRIËTTE JONKMAN, GERARD SANDERS, INA WAGENAAR, HENK VAN KALSBEEK, HAROLD TIEKSTRA AND WUBBO MULDER

Henk en Herman, how long have you been involved with the Works Council?
Henk: “I'm now in my third four-year term. I became chairman in 2010.”
Herman: “I started at about the same time as Henk and I am also starting my third term. I've been on the executive board for eight years, before that I was on Subcommittee Operations for two years.” (See infographic on the structure of Avebe's employee representation.)

What was the relationship between the Works Council and
management when you started?
Henk: “Well, that was definitely very different from what it’s like now. In the 90's there was a lot of commotion at Avebe and in 2005 there was a big strike. The Works Council was seen as
a troublemaker, a rabble rouser.”
Herman: “But there was already some unrest at the company anyway, the Works Council wasn’t the cause. As a result of the various reorganisations, the Works Council and management were often at loggerheads.”

What's different from then?
Herman: “Everything, in fact. We're now working together with much more trust. We give solicited and unsolicited advice and are involved in the important processes in the company.”
Henk: “That's right. As a Works Council, we're now a fully-fledged discussion partner for the management. Of course, we don't always agree. But that's how we keep each other on our toes, which is fine. That's our role.”

Jan Oost

“I find employee participation important. That we, as employees of Avebe, make our voice heard. The well-being of my colleagues is an important motivation for me. I find working in the Works Council very interesting, it has taught me a lot about Avebe's policy in recent years.”

Esmeralda Sanders

“The reason I joined the Works Council is that you are involved in the organisation in a different way. It's very different from your normal daily routine. I like working in the Works Council, even though I can't say much about it yet. I'm just getting started.
The group of people is very enthusiastic, so I'm sure it will turn out well!”

Henk van der Heide

“I'm very involved in the everyday life of Avebe, which is why I'm a member of the Works Council. In this way I can do my bit and have a modest influence on the ins and outs of Avebe. I love working in the Works Council. I got to know a lot of colleagues and partly because of that I gained a lot more appreciation for the work of other colleagues.”

How do you think that came about?
Herman: “The continuity of the company has improved enormously. With Bert Jansen as CEO, we have someone at the helm who has been with the company for a long time. This allows you to build a relationship of trust. It's also true that Avebe is doing well lately. Avebe develops, innovates. This creates a very different atmosphere in the company than when you have to deal with reorganisations and redundancy plans.”

The Works Council has just had an election. Can you tell us anything about that?
Henk: “We have Works Council elections every four years. It's great to see that this year we've had young people join us, from various departments of the company. The contribution of knowledge from the younger generation helps us to continue to develop. Continuity is also important for the Works Council, so it's good to see that we have many young employees who want to be involved in the company. That will make Avebe better.”
Herman: “The number of women has also increased. That's important. The Works Council should properly reflect the company's employees. And now it does, even more so than in previous years. Before it was mainly the production sites that were represented.”

What result that the Works Council achieved in recent years are you most proud of?
Henk: “That's hard to say... it's particularly important that we're involved in planning projects. We've done this for projects such as the new packaging line in Foxhol and the new Solanic factory in Gasselternijveen. As a Works Council, we can make the voice of our employees heard. A lot of people have been working at Avebe for a long time, that experience and knowledge is very valuable.”
Herman: “Redeployment projects are often very hard. I'm especially proud that we can make a real difference to our colleagues in these kinds of projects.”

What do you see as a challenge for the coming years?
Herman: “Within five years, there'll be a large outflow of retired employees from the production sites. An enormous amount of knowledge will be lost to us. Of course there'll be a lot of automation in the future, but you can't replace all human knowledge with machines. This means that we now have to hire and train the younger generation. We as a Works Council have submitted an initiative proposal for this.”
Henk: “The outflow will present a big challenge. We must continue to realise that the potato, the basis of the company, is a natural product. You can standardize and automate many processes, but you can't replace people. We now have to invest time in motivating the old guard. This old guard has to usher in the new generation. And, if all goes well, they will also learn something from that new generation in the process. That's quite something, isn't it?”

WORKS COUNCIL IN SWEDEN AND GERMANY

Avebe also has Works Councils in Sweden and Germany.
The role and influence of the Works Council varies from country to country, also because the legislation in this area differs. The German locations Lüchow and Dallmin both have a Works Council with 5 members. They also have a joint Works Council consisting of 4 members (2 from the Lüchow Works Council and 2 from the Dallmin Works Council). In Sweden, Avebe has 1 location and therefore 1 Works Council. This Works Council consists of white and blue collar representatives, representatives of the various trade unions.

I'M PROUD
THAT WE CAN REALLY 
mean something for colleagues

Avebe and the Works Council: in the past it was not always a happy marriage. But times are changing and the ties between management and Works Council have been close in recent years. Last December there were Works Council elections and the Works Council was able to welcome new blood. Chairman Henk van Kalsbeek (Team Leader in Foxhol) and vice-chairman Herman Sanders (Main Operator Food Factory in Ter Apelkanaal) talk about the Works Council, the struggles of the past, the stability of the present and the challenges for the future.

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: GEERT KNIGGE, HERMAN SANDERS, HENRIËTTE JONKMAN, GERARD SANDERS, INA WAGENAAR, HENK VAN KALSBEEK, HAROLD TIEKSTRA AND WUBBO MULDER

The Works Council has just had an election. Can you tell us anything about that?
Henk: “We have Works Council elections every four years. It's great to see that this year we've had young people join us, from various departments of the company. The contribution of knowledge from the younger generation helps us to continue to develop. Continuity is also important for the Works Council, so it's good to see that we have many young employees who want to be involved in the company. That will make Avebe better.”
Herman: “The number of women has also increased. That's important. The Works Council should properly reflect the company's employees. And now it does, even more so than in previous years. Before it was mainly the production sites that were represented.”

What result that the Works Council achieved in recent years are you most proud of?
Henk: “That's hard to say... it's particularly important that we're involved in planning projects. We've done this for projects such as the new packaging line in Foxhol and the new Solanic factory in Gasselternijveen. As a Works Council, we can make the voice of our employees heard. A lot of people have been working at Avebe for a long time, that experience and knowledge is very valuable.”
Herman: “Redeployment projects are often very hard. I'm especially proud that we can make a real difference to our colleagues in these kinds of projects.”

What do you see as a challenge for the coming years?
Herman: “Within five years, there'll be a large outflow of retired employees from the production sites. An enormous amount of knowledge will be lost to us. Of course there'll be a lot of automation in the future, but you can't replace all human knowledge with machines. This means that we now have to hire and train the younger generation. We as a Works Council have submitted an initiative proposal for this.”
Henk: “The outflow will present a big challenge. We must continue to realise that the potato, the basis of the company, is a natural product. You can standardize and automate many processes, but you can't replace people. We now have to invest time in motivating the old guard. This old guard has to usher in the new generation. And, if all goes well, they will also learn something from that new generation in the process. That's quite something, isn't it?”

WHY I AM A MEMBER OF THE WORKS COUNCIL
Jan Oost

“I find employee participation important. That we, as employees of Avebe, make our voice heard. The well-being of my colleagues is an important motivation for me. I find working in the Works Council very interesting, it has taught me a lot about Avebe's policy in recent years.”

Esmeralda Sanders

“The reason I joined the Works Council is that you are involved in the organisation in a different way. It's very different from your normal daily routine. I like working in the Works Council, even though I can't say much about it yet. I'm just getting started. The group of people is very enthusiastic, so I'm sure it will turn out well!”

Henk van der Heide

“I'm very involved in the everyday life of Avebe, which is why I'm a member of the Works Council. In this way I can do my bit and have a modest influence on the ins and outs of Avebe. I love working in the Works Council. I got to know a lot of colleagues and partly because of that I gained a lot more appreciation for the work of other colleagues.”

WORKS COUNCIL IN SWEDEN AND GERMANY

Avebe also has Works Councils in Sweden and Germany. The role and influence of the Works Council varies from country to country, also because the legislation in this area differs. The German locations Lüchow and Dallmin both have a Works Council with 5 members. They also have a joint Works Council consisting of 4 members (2 from the Lüchow Works Council and 2 from the Dallmin Works Council). In Sweden, Avebe has 1 location and therefore 1 Works Council. This Works Council consists of white and blue collar representatives, representatives of the various trade unions.

Henk en Herman, how long have you been involved with the Works Council?
Henk: “I'm now in my third four-year term. I became chairman in 2010.”
Herman: “I started at about the same time as Henk and I am also starting my third term. I've been on the executive board for eight years, before that I was on Subcommittee Operations for two years.” (See infographic on the structure of Avebe's employee representation.)

What was the relationship between the Works Council and management when you started?
Henk: “Well, that was definitely very different from what it’s like now. In the 90's there was a lot of commotion at Avebe and in 2005 there was a big strike. The Works Council was seen as
a troublemaker, a rabble rouser.”
Herman: “But there was already some unrest at the company anyway, the Works Council wasn’t the cause. As a result of the various reorganisations, the Works Council and management were often at loggerheads.”

What's different from then?
Herman: “Everything, in fact. We're now working together with much more trust. We give solicited and unsolicited advice and are involved in the important processes in the company.”
Henk: “That's right. As a Works Council, we're now a fully-fledged discussion partner for the management. Of course, we don't always agree. But that's how we keep each other on our toes, which is fine. That's our role.”

How do you think that came about?
Herman: “The continuity of the company has improved enormously. With Bert Jansen as CEO, we have someone at the helm who has been with the company for a long time. This allows you to build a relationship of trust. It's also true that Avebe is doing well lately. Avebe develops, innovates. This creates a very different atmosphere in the company than when you have to deal with reorganisations and redundancy plans.”