Fisher, Paul / Works councils in Germany
Codetermination, pp. 39-41 PDF (1.5 MB)
- 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 investigation. 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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