Equal access to knowledge and the process of change
Education fulfils a considerable role in this process. It is worth designing an educational and diagnostic process that would include all employees and allow for drawing common conclusions. Citizens’ assemblies may serve as an example, as they are based on ensuring equal access to knowledge, discovering facts and exposing myths, understanding mechanisms in order to make a collective decision for the common good. It is worth organising internal lectures and workshops with invited specialists, getting to know various tools of employee policy to better understand their psychological and emotional consequences. Warsaw’s Teatr Powszechny theatre may be an interesting example, as it conducted a year-long internal research process. This resulted in a participatory development of the theatre’s new identity based on quality and social functions of theatre. We can read about the results of this process in the documents available on the theatre’s website.
Transparency of employment forms and the remuneration system
The postulates put forward by the committees operating at Warsaw cultural institutions associated with the Workers’ Initiative are simple: “Equal pay for equal work! Reduce wage gaps!” Establishing a base wage on a base level and defining thresholds for higher or lower positions will ensure transparency of the remuneration system and give a sense of clarity and security. For example, Centrum Cyfrowe has developed a remuneration policy in consultation with its staff, which assumes a baseline rate for each type of position and a fixed multiplier corresponding to the next steps of development within a position. Remuneration, including the salaries of the management, is public to all staff members. Every staff member receives an annual pay rise of 2 percent and remuneration policy is subject to annual revision, with an assumption that if the organisation enjoys a good financial situation, the baseline rate is increased, which means higher remuneration for all team members.
Another postulate is: “Employment contract is an employment contract! Down with outsourcing and civil law contracts!” The realisation of this postulate will make it possible to build a team without unreasonable symbolic differentiations which will always affect both internal relationships and psychological values: appreciation for work done, identification with the institution, healthy engagement, a sense of economic security, and a feeling that all team members have been looked after. A team is a team.
Realisation of the next postulate: “Remuneration is not a taboo! Introduce transparent remuneration policies!” will effectively deal with pay discrimination, exploitation and even manipulation of employees.
These are simple and basic changes but they will definitely meet with a lot of various types of resistance. For this reason, it is worth approaching these changes through a process that begins with education including every person working for the institution irrespective of role, function or employment contract. It is best to develop solutions and an implementation system with the help of moderators in a way that would ensure nobody feels left out or attacked.
It is also possible to set up an open-for-all council or working group. This could be a prototype for a body involving all employers in decision-making, e.g. institutional budgeting. Such a body could decide whether to invest in new equipment, raise employee salaries or provide indefinite contracts. An important step in taking such brave action would be introducing the principle of participatory budgeting for a part of the institution’s budget, the range of which would consistently grow every year.