Lack of perspective

By Sarah RaparoliMisch Pautsch Switch to German for original article

To work - and be paid - like everyone else. This is the wish of people who work in a sheltered workshop. Various stakeholders report where the problems lie and to what extent improvements can be observed.

"For some, sheltered workshops ("ateliers protégés", ed.) are the best option, for others not", says Joël Delvaux. Not only does he work in the Départments des travailleurs handicapés (DTH) at OGBL (he also chaired the municipal council in the capital for déi Lénk from 2014 to 2017), but he was involved in the design and creation of the DTH from the very beginning. He himself is in a wheelchair and wanted to actively help ensure that the rights of people with disabilities are respected. "I spent my childhood in a boarding school in Switzerland", explains the 49-year-old. At the age of 13, he came back to Luxembourg, attended what was then the medical-educational centre in Bad Mondorf ("Centre médico-pédagogique de Mondorf") and ended up working at the Fondation Kräizbierg. "Later I tried my hand at the regular job market and came to the OGBL. At that time, I worked a few days a week each at OGBL, Info-Handicap and the government."

Positive changes

When asked about the conflicts at the Kräizbierg Foundation two years ago, Delvaux replied: "A lot has changed", probably alluding to the resignation of the Kräizbierg leadership, among other things. Let's take a brief look back: the social conflict at the Kräizbierg Foundation came to a head in autumn of 2020. Staff and residents gathered in front of the building at the end of September. The accusations: grievances within the foundation. The OGBL said at the time that there was evidence of bullying, threats, humiliation and sexual harassment on the part of the then director Jeannot Berg. Two years later, social dialogue was finally established. "There are now people from the staff and a person with the status of disabled worker on the board of directors. This person has only an advisory function, but he knows what is really going on and can have a say."

Kräizbierg is not a prime example, but it shows that positive changes are possible ─ they just take a long time. "The sheltered workshops are part of larger institutions and often there are foundations behind them. So they are private structures that follow their own statutes. Of course, they can apply to the relevant ministry for approval for a convention to cover the costs, but the ministry can't interfere." This is how it was at the time, he says: If the ministry had cancelled the convention, the Fondation Kräizbierg would have had to close, and people would have lost their jobs. "State control would be desirable, but we are in a quandary: it's good that the state can't control too much, but this fool's licence doesn't work either." He demands that every institution not only respects the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, but actively implements it. "They would have to prove what they have implemented to get closer to the intended goals. Because so far they only have to carry out budgetary controls to show that no nonsense is being done with state funds. What results their projects have, however, is not examined. There is no body for that."

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