Harald Kröck

Harald Kröck; course of studies: Labour Policies and Globalisation; period of study: 2004-2005; current employment: freelance consultant, Harald Kröck Consulting.

Qualified managerial accountant Harald Kröck is interested in issues of social justice. For him, the course of studies in Labour Policies and Globalisation was the perfect opportunity for personal and professional advancement. Today he is a freelance consultant and co-ordinates an alumni network whose members are advocates for the improvement of working conditions around the globe. 

 


Course of studies

When the course of studies in Labour Policies and Globalisation (LPG) began in 2004 and Harald Kröck started studying, the German newspaper TAZ published a story under the headline “Studying Protest” (10 October 2005). The one-year course of studies of the Global Labour University (GLU), in which half of the courses are held at the University of Kassel and half at the Berlin School of Economics and Law (the Hochschule für Wirtschaft und Recht or HWR), educates trade unionists and people who are interested in issues of social justice. The objective is to convey to students the methods and theories of socio-political and economic processes. The programme gives them the tools they need in order to negotiate with employers and political representatives on an equal footing both in their home countries as well as on a global level. For it is impossible to act strategically at the local level without an appreciation of the big picture. Prior trade union or social commitment is a prerequisite for admission to the programme of study in Labour Policies and Globalisation.

Harald Kröck’s personal motivation for studying Labour Policies and Globalisation developed slowly. After earning his first degree in business management, he spent several years working as a managerial accountant in the paper industry, where he was obligated as part of his job to find ways of reducing labour costs as a factor of production. Even back then, he cooperated with the works council, was interested in issues of social justice, and saw an opportunity for professional and personal advancement in this course of studies. Harald Kröck completed the internship required within the scope of the LPG programme at the Federation of German Trade Unions (DGB) and the national headquarters of the trade union Ver.di in Berlin. This gave him insight into additional aspects of the labour movement.

As one of the few Germans, Harald Kröck enjoyed the international and intercultural nature of the course of studies in Labour Policies and Globalisation in addition to the subject matter. The students in his class came from eighteen countries including Moldavia, South Africa, and South Korea. Despite all of their differences in culture and content, the students share one thing in common: they all want to improve working conditions for employees in their home countries and shape globalisation in a manner that is socially just, and hence approach their studies with tremendous enthusiasm.


Current activities

After completing the program, Harald Kröck gained experience at the ILO in Geneva and in an international project network initiated by ver.di. Through his work for the ILO and his contacts with the Global Labour University, Kröck discovered his talents as a consultant and organizer. Today, as a freelance consultant, he is responsible for a variety of things – content management and technical support for websites, planning and realisation of summer schools, workshops, and conferences, and, last but not least, coordination of the Worldwide Labour University’s alumni network.

Kröck not only looks after alumni who have studied in Kassel and Berlin, but also alumni of similar courses of studies which the GLU offers in Brazil, South Africa, and India. Roughly 270 alumni from sixty countries help stimulate international exchange among trade unionists.

Because the students study together in a small group and in some cases even share living quarters during their stay in Germany, they get to know one another very well. Although the length of study is relatively short in comparison with bachelor's degree programmes or other master’s degree programmes, there is a strong sense of community among the students and close contact with the professors. These are ideal conditions for future cooperation as alumni.

The founders of the Labour Policies and Globalisation programme set themselves the goal of promoting cooperation between trade unions and institutions of higher education worldwide even after students complete their degrees. That is why the annual alumni summer schools, workshops, and conferences, as well as project meetings between academics and trade unionists, are an essential component of the network.

There is yet another aspect to the alumni network – it provides very practical assistance in everyday life. The GLU alumni established a solidarity fund in 2007. Alumni donations are used to provide emergency assistance to individual alumni. Harald Kröck is a member of a committee elected by all alumni which takes action on applications to this fund in addition to dealing with general alumni matters. In the past, for example, it was possible to provide assistance to several former students who suffered temporary economic difficulties after returning to their home countries (e.g., due to job loss or illness).

With the solidarity fund, the summer schools, continuous liaison work, support for two Facebook groups, publication of a newsletter, and the founding of a GLU development association, networking of GLU alumni and students has attained a level of professionalism that long ago exceeded the scope of volunteer work. The network employs Harald Kröck as a freelancer several times a year. The thing that appeals to him the most about his alumni relations work is the subject which the GLU alumni are addressing – the worldwide trade union movement and improvement of working conditions around the globe.


(Interview conducted by Isabelle Schulz on 18 February 2013)