Chaplaincy - in Place of Strife
Chaplains can be useful people to have around, especially when disputes, industrial and individual, arise. Here are two true stories from the Workplace Chaplaincy Mission UK chaplaincy training course.
On an industrial level:
The 1980s was a time of poor industrial relations in much of British industry. Car makers were no exception to this and in some plants strikes and mistrust were endemic. This was the case in the Vauxhall motors plant at Luton in Bedfordshire. On one occasion, trust between management and unions had almost completely disappeared, so much so that the two sites would not sit in the same room to try to settle the dispute that had, once again, brought the plant to a standstill.
The plant had a chaplain who had, over many years, come to be trusted by many. He had done this by never taking sides, always being prepared to listen and keep confidences entrusted to him.
It was the chaplain that finally played a key role in bringing the two sides together and ending the dispute. He was the only person who both sides would trust and acted as the honest broker to find a solution. Not only was he able to be the go-between, but, because he was trusted, he could also challenge both sides to see things from the viewpoint of the other side.
On a personal level
Lynn is the chaplain of a large supermarket. After several conversations in the staff canteen, a rather shy and quiet shop worker, Alison, hints that she does not get on well with her manager. This Lynn takes to be one reason why Alison seems to be rather down.
As Lynn gains her confidence, Alison begins to speak in terms of bullying. It is clear that this situation has been going on for some time, but that she is very reluctant to talk about it, confiding that she doesn’t know what to do and has not mentioned it to anyone else. Lynn gently encourages Alison to think through what might be done. Alison tells her that just talking about it has made it easier to face the situation and she explains that she now realises what she thinks she needs to do. Lynn continues to offer encouragement and support, without getting directly involved herself.
A few weeks later, Lynne comes into the store and meets Alison. She is transformed, clearly much happier and explains that she finally found the opportunity – and the courage - to speak to HR. The policy and process the company has to tackle bullying has been followed and the day before that, a meeting with all concerned had resolved the problem.