Taking social responsibility through Odense Værkstederne

18 October 2022
Taking social responsibility through Odense Værkstederne
Tasso has prioritised social responsibility for nearly a decade through our collaboration with Odense Værkstederne, a municipal-driven organisation dedicated to providing job opportunities to physically and mentally challenged job seekers.

- Having Odense Værkstederne as a supplier for several years has been a valuable opportunity for us to take social responsibility in the Danish labour market and the iron foundry industry, says Tasso’s Works Manager, Michael Gammelgaard, continuing:

- Odense Værkstederne is a valuable, forward-thinking municipal initiative that employs mentally and physically challenged workers unable to immediately obtain employment in the Danish labour market. It comprises three separate departments: Midtbyen, Havørnen and Bregnevej.

Bregnevej is the organisation’s industrial workshop separated into individual sub-departments responsible for assembly, production, machining, woodworking, and warehouse storage. These departments create various products for many commercial and industrial companies across Denmark, including Tasso.

- Odense Værkstederne can accommodate certain employees we cannot here at Tasso. As much as we enjoy having flexible and senior employees and want to be more inclusive overall, we simply don’t have the correct frameworks. It, therefore, makes sense to take responsibility through the Odense Værkstederne initiative, says Michael Gammelgaard.

The will to be better
32-year-old Ronni Birch and 34-year-old Martin Haugaard are two of the blacksmiths currently employed by Odense Værkstederne. They both work together with Tasso to repair the company’s equipment for deslagging liquid iron.

Ronni suffered a brain haemorrhage resulting from premature birth complications, subsequently causing short-term memory, concentration and focus difficulties. Martin developed a brain tumour in his cerebellum at age six and underwent surgery to have a valve placed in his brain. He experiences frequent bouts of pain, tiredness, fatigue and balance issues.

These difficulties negatively impacted Ronni and Martin’s experiences in the Danish labour market. Their saving grace was employment at Odense Værkstederne and eventually working with customers like Tasso and other related companies.

- I heard about Odense Værkstederne and saw the metal workshop at Bregnevej eight years ago. It looked damn good, says Martin.

- I’ve been here as a fully trained blacksmith ever since. The team helps me a lot. They schedule my tasks in advance and ensure I don’t learn too much all at once, otherwise, I burn out. When I get home, I’m tired but feel like I’ve actually done something. I feel much happier and way more confident.

Ronni echoes Martin’s sentiments about Odense Værkstederne’s opportunities and the workshop’s healthy, confidence-building environment saying his life has gotten easier and his confidence has grown, all thanks to Odense Værkstedernes constant focus on constant positive reinforcement.

- Here, we always look at the positives. We begin with small successes and then build on them, says Finn Duemose Hansen, Foreman at Odense Værkstederne, elaborating:

- Many of our employees have suffered many challenges in the labour market before coming here. We want to catch them before their confidence gets well and truly hit.

Ethics and social responsibility above all else
Whilst Odense Værkstederne is an upstanding organisation providing an invaluable service to physically and mentally challenged workers, the question remains: Is Odense Værkstederne a financially viable labour source?

- I haven’t looked at the economics regarding our collaboration with Odense Værkstederne, but I know it’s not an overwhelmingly large post. All I can say is it makes a lot of social and ethical sense for us as a company, says Michael Gammelgaard, continuing:

- We’re very happy with the production and delivery of repaired deslagging equipment and are particularly impressed with their attention to detail. Knowing the workers over there are productive, fulfilled and feel like they’re part of the workforce is important to us.