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Fisher, Paul / Works councils in Germany

Non-legal methods of union control of works council activities,   pp. 12-16 PDF (2.4 MB)

Page 16

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the works council, by being raised from the shop to the supra-
plant level, would be transferred, in effect, to the union
reserve of collective bargaining.
Dual Office-Holding
The strongest factor of union strength in the works councils
consists in the circumstance that most works council leaders in the
larger enterprises, besides being union members of long standing,
also hold some kind of union office. This connection serves better
than any law to assure rather close and intimate cooperation between
the union and council.   To some extent, this present situation
is a historical accident arising from the unique age distribution
of the German labor force in which two wars have created a large
gap between the old and very young workers. It was only the
older group, having had experience in a free labor movement
before the Nazis, who were equipped to assume the leadership in
the works councils and labor unions. Their natural successors in
the 25-40 age group are, by and large, either missing or as yet
unwilling to assume responsibility. But this cumulation of works
council and union office may also be the result of a definite
union policy.    /
1/ The Austrian labor movement, for instance, has always attempted
to integrate those works council chairmen who by repeated
re-election have given proof of their ability to appeal to
the rank-and-file intc the union hierarchy.   Where those elected
worker leaders, because of the importance of the firm. in a
given industry, commanded the respect and allegiance of a
significant number of workers, the Austrian unions did not
hesitate to offer those men a seat on the union national
executive committee.

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