Fisher, Paul / Works councils in Germany
Union and works council relations under legislation since 1945, pp. 8-11 PDF (1.7 MB)
- 11 - remains so much ink and paper. 3xcept in the rare instance of rival union claims, union influence on the works council election procedure is often subordinated to the influence of political groups. Usually, all candidates belong to the union, but the decisive issue is their political affiliation. Despite an election system which recognizes only the election of individuals and not of party lists, extra-legal caucuses of SPD, CDU, and Communist Party cells in the plant will engineer the elections in many instances. / In most works council elections, the issue is not unionism vs. non-unionism, but KPD against SPD or CDU. Inasmuch as the unions are politically neutral, all lists claim to be union-sponsored, but actually most works council elections are held along strict party lines. Such a procedure still leaves the works council under control, at least formally, of the union. It merely identifies the elected individuals, in the minds of the voters, more closely with the respective political party than with the union. As long as party affiliation does not interfere with union allegiance, the union has no reason to complain. Union interest is involved, however, where the danger exists that one of the parties may wish to capture or destroy the union. Not many other rights of the unions to control works council activities which the various laws had established were utilized. The one which was practiced most widely was the right of union officers, at the invitation of the works councils, to address quarterly works assemblies. . For example, an SPD-CDU coalition in a large automobile plant succeeded in unseating the KPD-dominated works council. On the other hand, an SPD majority, in a decartelized steel plant visited, was ousted by a CDU-KPD alliance. It is usually the FPD which maintains a strong political cell in the plant, while the other parties act only defensively.
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