Fisher, Paul / Works councils in Germany
Dangers to the union position, pp. 18-27 PDF (4.8 MB)
- 20 - example, in government service, the postal service, and the government-owned railways, may produce in the minds of the uncritical employee the erroneous belief that he can dispense with union affiliation. In Land Mineland-Palatinate, the Minister of Interior, supposedly upon union insistence, dissolved the central works council in the police force. The reasons given by him for this step were perhaps less acceptable to the union inasmuch as they were reportedly to keep senior or Junior-grade officers from being represented on the same works council. The Rival Union Issue Even if the works council does ordinarily not create a threat of dual unionism, it may prove the opening wedge for a rival union. At present, the position of the DGB is not seriously endangered. Rival unions appear only at the fringe of white-collar unionism. There the DGB principle of industrial unionism which claims jurisdiction over all employees from the janitor to the assistant manager clashes with the horizontal unionism of the German salaried employees union (DAG) and the Civil Servants Federation (Deutscher Beamtenbund), not to mention a few smaller splinter groups. State laws which follow the pattern of Allied Control Council Law No. 22 (Art. IV/1) provide for a single works council elected by all the employed persons. This procedure normally leaves the DGB unions in firm control and, at the same time, provides for the representation of the salaried employees. The tradition, however, of the separate group councils of manual and salaried employees which dates back to the Weimar law, is still strong. The Bavarian bill would actually vest the entire power in these groups, leaving the works council and its chairman in a position of impotency. 2 Danger from Political Parties The unions face a potentially more powerful danger. This is presented by the political parties. The party cells in the plant may take over union functions, the parties may split the DGB or try to gain control over it. This threat comes from the right and the left, from neo-fascist, Christian and Communistic organizations. / Editorial Note: The recent Bavarian works council law provides for a single works council consisting of "group representatives" of wage earners, salaried employees and, in government service, of civil service officials. The author's comment on the authority of the group representatives was made before the final version of the law had been completed.
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