Industrial actions in Germany - realistic in an international context?

Autor:Wolfgang Däubler
Cargo:University of Bremen
Páginas:33-64
RESUMEN

En la UE, la acción colectiva transnacional existe en teoría, pero no en la práctica. ¿Cuáles deberían ser las condiciones para la cooperación y la lucha conjunta? Cada Estado Miembro debería conocer al otro, en particular los intereses económicos subyacentes, las instituciones, las tradiciones y la mentalidad del resto de movimientos del trabajo. El artículo pretende aportar información concreta ... (ver resumen completo)

 
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Revista Derecho Social y Empresa nº 4, Diciembre 2015
ISSN: 2341-135X págs.33-64
INDUSTRIAL ACTIONS IN GERMANY – REALISTIC IN
AN INTERNATIONAL CONTEXT?
WOLFGANG DÄUBLER
University of Bremen
Fecha de recepción: 25-12-2015
Fecha de aceptación: 11-01-2016
SUMARIO: 1. INTRODUCTION. 2. GERMAN INDUSTRIAL
RELATIONS – AN OVERVIEW. 2.1. Dualistic System and number of Strikes. 2.2.
The division of labour between unions and works councils. 2.3. Law and reality. 2.3.1.
Influence of works councils on collective bargaining. 2.3.2. The emergence of new
unions. 2.3.3. Workers without works councils and unions. 2.4. Right to industrial
action - differences to other West-European Countries. 2.4.1. The constitutional
guarantee. 2.4.2. Limits of the right to strike. 2.4.3. Collective agreements or other
aims, too? 2.4.4. The illegality of the socalled wildcat strike. 2.4.5. Strikes and other
means of pressure. 2.4.6. Lock-out and other means of employers. 2.4.7. The right to
work as an argument. 3. THE SCOPE OF LEGITIMATE INDUSTRIAL ACTION.
3.1. Business prerogatives as limits to strikes and collective agreements?. 3.2. Essential
services. 3.3. Concrete cases. 4. CRIMINAL LIABILITY. 4.1. Criminal liability in the
past. 4.2. The situation in the first years of the Federal Republic. 4.3. The actual legal
situation. 4.4. Reasons not to use criminal law. 4.5. Could the legislator change the
situation? 5. CIVIL LIABILITY. 5.1. Civil liability of unions. 5.2. Civil liability of
individuals. 5.3. The damage to be paid. 5.4. Law and reality. 6. DISCIPLINARY
LIABILITY. 7. SOME SUGGESTIONS.
RESUMEN: En la UE, la acción colectiva transnacional existe en teoría, pero no
en la práctica. ¿Cuáles deberían ser las condiciones para la cooperación y la lucha
conjunta? Cada Estado Miembro debería conocer al otro, en particular los intereses
económicos subyacentes, las instituciones, las tradiciones y la mentalidad del resto de
movimientos del trabajo. El artículo pretende aportar información concreta sobre las
relaciones laborales en Alemania. Según se aprecia desde otros países europeos, el caso
Wolfgang Däubler
Revista Derecho Social y Empresa nº 4, Diciembre 2015
ISSN: 2341-135X pág. [34]
parece de bastante interés. Sin embargo, el mito pudiera dejar de serlo o incluso ser
destruido por completo.
ABSTRACT: In the EU, transborder collective action exists in theory but not in
practice. Which would be the conditions to cooperate and even fight together? One
should know each other, especially the underlying economic interest, the institutions,
the traditions and the mentality of the other labour movement. The article tries to give
concrete information about labour relations in Germany. Viewed from other
European countries, it seems to be a very specific case today. This myth will be
modified, if not destroyed
PALABRAS CLAVE: relaciones industriales en Alemania, relaciones laborales en
Alemania, comité de empresa, derecho a la huelga, huelga salvaje, cierre patronal.
KEYWORDS: German industrial relations, labour relations in Germany, works
council, right to strike, wildcat strike, lock-out.
1. INTRODUCTION
Germany has the image of being a rich country with quite peaceful labour
relations. This view is linked to the idea of equality at least between workers. Why
should refugees not select such a country? Some of them go to Sweden having a
comparable reputation, but most of them prefer Germany.
If this view is confronted with reality, it needs some corrections from the very
beginning. When the legal minimum wage was introduced in January 2015, 5.25
million workers (among 36 million) earned less than the new minimum of 8.50 Euro
an hour. One third of them even got less than 6 Euros an hour, 1.3 Million less than 5
Euros.1 Obviously, there is a lot of inequality. You can find in Germany winners of
the globalisation, especially in the metal and in the chemical industry, and losers,
1 Details at Amlinger/Bispinck/Schulten, Niedriglohnsektor: Jeder Dritte ohne
Mindestlohn? WSI Report Nr. 12, Januar 2014, S. 4, abrufbar unter
http://www.boecklerimpuls.de/
Industrial Actions in Germany – Realistic in an International context?
Revista Derecho Social y Empresa nº 4, Diciembre 2015
ISSN: 2341-135X pág. [35]
especially in the services. In order not to reduce the chances of German enterprises on
the international market, the state is no more willing or able to tax them in a sufficient
way. In some cases, privatization destroys income sources. A state with a poor budget
can pay only poor salaries; the pressure to reduce costs is the highest one in the
services. This leads to a kind of separation between the metalworkers´ union and the
chemistry union on the one side and the service union on the other side. Strikes will
be found especially in the services: Doctors in hospitals, railwaymen, nursery-school
teachers. As services expand even in industry, there is a big conflict between the two
groups of unions who will be entitled to recruit members in this field.
Why can it be of interest for foreign people to know something more about
German industrial relations? If there is a perspective to collaborate with German
unions and even ask them for support, one has to know their structure and their
traditional behaviour. If a common collective action would be at the horizon, is there a
chance to find an agreement about such a plan? Who will be the partner to talk with if
an action is planned on the level of an enterprise?
In the following paragraphs, readers may find some “basics” on German labour
law and the corresponding reality. The second big part deals with industrial conflict
and its narrow legal framework which has become in a way less restrictive during the
last ten years. At the end, some short suggestions will be made.
2. GERMAN INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS – AN OVERVIEW
2.1. Dualistic System and number of Strikes
In Germany, the number of strikes is quite low. According to statistical figures
published by the scientific institute of the German Trade Union Congress,2 about one
million of employees participated in strikes in 2013. In relation to 36 million
employees, this is a quite modest number: About 3% of all workers went to strike. In
the typical case, a strike took some hours, because only 550.000 working days were
lost.3 These facts need some explanation.
2 WSI – Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftliches Institut.
3 Details see Dribbusch, Böckler impuls 5/2014 p. 3.

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