University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

Fisher, Paul / Works councils in Germany

Works council- employer relations,   pp. 36-38 PDF (1.4 MB)

Page 36

- 36 -
Works council-employer relations will be discussed here
only with regard to three problems - the contribution of the works
council to industrial peace, to production; and the role of the
works council in personnel and social codetermination.
Industrial Peace
The consensus of all management representatives interviewed
was that the works council contributes substantially to industrial
peace. This claim - and the remainder of the following discussion -
is, however, subject to one very important exception: Employer-
works council relations are unsatisfactory in all cases where
the works council is dominated by communists. Communist works
council members see in their office an outpost in the class
struggle and hope to maintain their own popularity with the
workers by consistently raising demands which cannot be met and
which they do not expect to see fulfilled. They regard stirring
up labor unrest as an end in itself.
The major contribution to industrial peace which the works
council can make lies in the settlement of grievances. It was
found that, between 1945-1950, approximately 98 percent of all
grievances in the twenty plants visited were settled amicably
and finally by the parties themselves. In well-organized plants,
only test cases were submitted to labor courts. Most of the
labor court cases seem to come from smaller plants which have
no works council or where the union has no influence. The duty
imposed on the works councils by the Weimar law of safeguarding
plant interests as well as worker interests prompts the works
council and shop stewards to screen carefully all submitted
complaints and to take to management only those which they deemed
A further contribution towards industrial peace may be seen
in works council insistence upon industrial discipline and plant
morale.  It may appear strange to hear of a works council
chairnan standing at the door of the shop to berate latecomers.
A company which had introduced a voluntary sickness allowance was
happy to report that the works council went into the hcmes of

Go up to Top of Page