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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 13

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Union Training Program
The unions offer, furthermore, extensive schooling to the
works councillors. Schools fulfill the double purpose of
preparing works council members for their work and of imbuing
them, at the same time, with the union spirit. To stress the
union ties, the unions quite deliberately forego making any
differentiation between work councillors and union officers
proper. The desired effect is that works council members display
the same esprit de corps which unites all active union leaders.
The common treatment accorded to union officers and works
council members which aims to make the latter part and parcel
of the internal union structure ,is also noticeable in the
publication program. Both groups receive the identical type of
information addressed especially to them. Besides this effort,
the DGB and several of the larger unions (metal workers, miners,
postal employees, to mention a few) have established a very
comprehensive system of schools for their officials and especially
for works councillors. The system has its base in the local
training course, normally an evening class in a public school.
Graduates may apply for admission to the eight permanent
schools maintained by the DGB throughout western Germany for more
specialized work of one or two weeks' duration. The most promising
graduates of a number of these full-time courses may be admitted
to the three university-like institutions, fully or partly-
financed by the DGB, the Academy of Labor in Frankfurt, the Social
Academy in Dortmund, and the Academy for Communal Economics in
Hamburg where, as a rule, a full year may be spent. Living,
traveling and other expenses are largely defrayed by the unions.
To give an idea of the extent of this program, it may be
useful to mention that, in Northrhine-Westphalia alone, the DGB
training program - and to give a full picture the work of the
constituent industrial unions in this area would have to be added -
processed 4,COO students in one semester. Several of these training
courses were especially designed for works councillors, while
others, such as classes in labor law, business economics, social
policy, accident prevention, and industrial hygiene, were open to
then as well as other union officers. Because of the special
interest which the nationwide discussion of codetermnination evoked
in the minds of the works councillors who at any moment expected
to be called upon to exercise their new rights and duties, special
classes on codetermination in the plant, and on the supra-plant
level - attracted a greater than usual number of pupils. In
Northrhine-''lestuhalia, 70 classes sought to prepare 2,000 students
in over four months for their future assignment. This very impressive

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