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Fisher, Paul / Works councils in Germany

Development of recent works council legislation,   pp. 3-7 PDF (2.3 MB)

Page 3

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Resume of Wtorks Council Legislaticn
The German works council, which originated immediately after
';Vorld liar I, is basically an employee shop representation group
elected by all persons employed in a particular establishment whether
or not they belong to a trade union. Its major functions are the
settlement of grievances, particularly those arising from dismissal,
the application and enforcement of collective agreements, and the
conclusion of shop agreements. Other duties and rights vary with
the particular act of legislation.
Since the first Works Council Law in 1920, works councils in
Germany have been governed by legislation which expressly defines
the conditions and procedures for their formation and which enumerates
their responsibilities and prerogatives. Under the Nazi regime,
they were completely stripped of their democratic character and
functions. Members of the so-called "Councils of Confidence" were
nominated by the employer and by the plant representative of the
German Labor Front.
One of the first actions of the Occupation Authorities was
the adoption on April 10, 1946 of Control Council Law No. 22 which
permitted the establishment of democratic works councils and which
sanctioned the many works councils which had sprung up spontaneously
immendiately after the occupation began.
Control Council Law No. 22 was followed by German legislation
in various Laender which, in almost all instances, continued in
general the outlines of the Law of 192C, but which also expanded
substantially works council rights and duties.   In three U.S. Zone
Laender (Hesse, WNuertteinberg-Baden, and Bremen), such laws were
passed by the State Legislatures in 1948 and 1949. I/ In the French
Zone, a decree on works councils was issued in Land Rhineland-
Palatinate in 1947, while similar legislation was adopted in 1948
and 1949 in Baden and ;Juertterberg-Hohenzollern.
In accordance with enabling provisions in the Land constitutions,
some of the Land works council laws granted labor the right of so-
called "economic codetermination," the right of the employees through
their representatives to participate in the economic phases of management.
Economic codetermination clauses of the Hesse and ;l'uerttemberg-Baden
laws were suspended in 1948 by U.S. Military Government pending
clarification by the Basic Law (Federal Constitution) as to whether
the right to legislate in this area would be reserved to the Federal
Government or to the Land Governments. Similar provisions in the
.1. Editorial Note: A works council law was enacted in Bavaria in
October 1950, after the present report had been completed.

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