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Fisher, Paul / Works councils in Germany

Codetermination,   pp. 39-41 PDF (1.5 MB)

Page 41

- 41 -
Economic Codetermination (worker participation in the economic,
financial and technical management of the enterprise)
The most controversial issue in the entire field of industrial
relations in present-day Germany is, of course, the problem of
economic codetermination. Unfortunately, very little evidence of
the actual operation of the various forms this much publicized
set of rights assumes, could be gathered. A federal law had not
yet emerged. Since this report restricts itself to a review and
analysis of observed facts, no attempt will be made here to
summarize the various proposals and the tremendous literature on
this subject. Only after such a law is passed and put in operation
would a critical evaluation of the entire problem be meaningful.
After sufficient maturation, it would provide a proper subject for
The lifting of the suspension of the economic codetermination
provisions in the Hesse and   iuerttemberg-Baden laws in April of
1950 had not yet had any visible results. In Hesse, a conservative
political party, the FDP, had filed a suit against the State of
Hesse before the supreme court of constitutional law claiming that
Hesse was not entitled to put its law into effect as long as the
very same matter was being considered by the German Federal
Government. Whatever the merits of this contention may be, the
law suit had the effect of preventing employer compliance with
the Hesse law. On the other hand, the unions in Hesse were not
yet ready to press the issue.
In "Nuerttenberg-Baden, the provisions of para. 20ff pertaining
to economic codetermination were also not in operation. The
arbitration boards which would be charged with the adjudication
of disputes had not yet been established. The admission of two
works council members to the supervisory board (board of directors)
was still waiting for a governmental decree. The very limited
economic codetermination rights of the -iuerttemberg-Hohenzollern
law (para. 66, b-h) had never been used by the unions. Finally
paras. 21(3)-23 of the South Baden law shared the fate of the
;huerttemberg-Baden provisions. They remained inoperative until an
authority charged with the determination of controversial issues
would be enacted by law.
The decartelized steel industry offered the sole example of
some aspects of economic codetermination. It was felt, however, that
since this industry was operating at present under a strictly
transitional administration and under special and non-typical
conditions, no generally applicable conclusions could lemitimately
be drawn from this experience.

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