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Fisher, Paul / Works councils in Germany

Dangers to the union position,   pp. 18-27 PDF (4.8 MB)

Page 21

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Thus far, the Christian labor groups (which occasionally harbor
some nationalistic elements) have not manifested any strong desire
to destroy the unity of the politically neutral DGB.
These groups, the refugee parties, and the nationalists have
not opposed the union slate in works council elections, but this
does not mean that the danger is permanently removed. Neo-fascism
is probably responsible for the growing number of works council
members without party affiliations. A comparison of the election
results of 1949 and 1950 in 262 Northrhine-Westphalian undertakings
reveals that this group's ratio has increased sharply while all
other groups have suffered decreases. A similar effect could be
observed in Berlin where the interconnection became evident. The
increase in the share of the politically non-affiliated coincided
with a decrease in the share of the unionized. The experience in
Bavaria is of a similar nature. Although not all of the politically
non-affiliated may be termed neo-fascists, competent observers
consider this group the most important element, particularly in the
building and construction industry, where many former Nazi party
members, who lost their previous jobs in connection with the
denazification trials, are now working.
The Communist Danger
Far more important at present than any danger from the right
is the danger from the extreme left. While the number of Communist
works council members has consistently declined - though the decline
has been slight recently - the question must be raised as to whether
the works council does not offer a particularly appropriate tool for
Communist aspirations. There is no dispute as to the final aims of
the KPD,-the German Communist Party, but there is some question as to
what priority the party assigns to the achievement of the more immediate
goals as they concern labor organizations.
The consensus of persons interviewed is that the KPD is not
yet seeking works council positions for the purpose of sabotaging
production, but is rather interested in creating labor unrest and
in gathering and transmitting information on strategic German
industry. (Economic codetermination which would give the workers
a considerable degree of information about the enterprise is therefore
supported by the KPD for its own reasons.) Furthermore, a works
council position is of immediate value to the party because of the
inherent possibility of disseminating propaganda and acquiring
influence in the union. Unlike the thirties, when the Red Union (RGO)
split off from the Socialist Labor Federation (ADGB), the "boring from
within" technique is now used. Gaining access to union office may

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