Challenges in a Time of Transition
This text continues the series of presentations on the structure and policy of the German trade unions that we started in 2012. The present revised and expanded version of this text provides an introduction to the structure of trade union policy, workplace representation of interests and co-determination, as well as to central issues of trade union politics. It also focuses on the further development of new concepts of organising that have emerged since 2012, as well as on the social and political changes in the way industrial conflict and strikes are played out, which were first observed in the industrial disputes of 2015.
Compared with the 2012 and 2014 versions new topics have also been added that take account of the political and economic challenges not yet entirely apparent in 2014. This applies, for example, to the significance of new migration and the emergence of racist and right-wing tendencies in the world of work and at the workplace. Our study also deals with new directions in collective bargaining policy, such as the questions of working hours and work-life balance.
Finally, the present text also describes somewhat more detailed problems and trade union positions in connection with the technical development of productive forces (digitalisation and »Industry 4.0«), without claiming to be exhaustive in its analysis, given the space limitations. The study finishes with a summary of what we think are the major strategic questions German unions are facing.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Dr Heiner Dribbusch is leader of the Collective Bargaining
and Trade Union Policy Unit in the Economic and Social
Sciences Institute (WSI) of the Hans-Böckler Foundation.
Dr Peter Birke is a research associate at the Sociology Institute
of the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung | International Policy Analysis
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Dr Marc Meinardus
Trade Union Programmes Europe and North America
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