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Fisher, Paul / Works councils in Germany
([1951])

Development of recent works council legislation,   pp. 3-7 PDF (2.3 MB)


Page 4


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South Baden law remained ineffective owing to non-approval by
French Military Government of implementation legislation setting
up mediation boards for the settlement of disputes arising from
the application of "economic codetermination". In view of the
expressed policy of U.S. Military Government, Bremen recast its
law which was then under consideration and omitted any reference
to economic codetermination.
Each works council law differed sufficiently from one another
to make life difficult for an enterprise with plants in several
Laender. This circumstance alone would have constituted sufficient
reason for a federal law which became possible after the Basic Law
went into force. Under the Basic Law, concurrent powers of
legislation in this field were given to the Federal and Land
Governments with the proviso that federal legislation would
supersede a Land enactment. It was not for the aforementioned
reason, however, nor because of the traditional German preference
for uniform, centrally-administered legislation that the struggle
for a federal law began.
The basic issue was rather the question of economic codetermination
at the level of the general economy as well as at the level of the
individual establishment. In the latter part Qf 1949, pressure
upon the Federal Government to enact a federal works council and
codetermination law became so strong that Labor Minister Storch
(CDU) called for discussions between trade unions and employers'
organizations in the hope that these two groups would agree upon
a set of principles which could be embodied in law. Complete
agreement could not however be reached at the conferences in 1950 at
Hattenheim (January 9 and 10, March 30 and 31), Bonn (May 24, June 2,
9, 23), and Maria Laach near Bonn (July 5 and 6).
Considerable agreement was reached on labor's right to codetermine
on an equal level with employers' organizations in determining over-
all economic policy. The crucial unresolved issues, which still
await settlement, pertain to economic codetermination at the plant
level, especially with regard to the number of labor representatives
on a Board of Directors and to whether the employee representatives
could be chosen by the trade union from among persons not employed
in the given establishment.
In April 1950, the U.S. High Commissioner liftedthe suspension
which U.S. Military Government had imposed in 1948 on the economic
codetermination provisions of the Hesse and Wuerttemberg-Baden works
council laws. As previously noted, these clauses had been suspended until
the
Basic Law decided whether the Federal Government or the State governments


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