Germany: Industrial relations profile
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As the Industrial Relations Profile 2010 for Germany showed, trade union density declined from 25% (2000) to 22% in 2005 (European Commission, 2009). The decline can be attributed mainly to the shift from union strongholds, such as the manufacturing sector, to service industries. Workers in the latter sector are harder to organise. However, unions have taken up the challenge and started to organise these workers. Therefore, the decline in membership figures has slowed since 2000.
The basic institutional landscape amongst unions did not change in 2011. There are three important umbrella organisations:
- The Confederation of German Trade Unions (Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, DGB) comprised eight unions with a total membership of 6,155,899 in 2011. This compares to 6,193,252 and 6,264,923 members in 2010 and 2009 respectively. The two biggest unions under the DGB’s umbrella are the German Metalworkers’ Union (Industriegewerkschaft Metall, IG Metall) with some 2,245,760 members in 2011 and the United Services Union (Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft, ver.di) with some 2,070,990 members.
- The German Civil Service Association (Deutscher Beamtenbund und Tarifunion, dbb) and its affiliated unions represent 1.26 million members, most of whom are civil servants and employees working in public administration bodies at the regional and national levels. Its membership includes employees of previously state-owned companies which have now been privatised. In total, the confederation is made up of 38 unions and 16 regional associations.
- The Christian Trade Union Federation of Germany (Christlicher Gewerkschaftsbund Deutschlands, CGB) unites 16 unions under its umbrella. The CGB unions represent over 280,000 members in Germany.
Please note that there are some unions which are not affiliated to any of the three biggest union confederations.
Trends in trade union development
In 2011, no major mergers occurred. The two most important unions in the railway sector, i.e. TRANSNET – Gewerkschaft der Eisenbahner Deutschlands (GdED) and the Transport Trade Union GDBA (Verkehrsgewerkschaft GDBA) had already merged in 2010 to become the Rail and Transport Union (Eisenbahn- und Verkehrsgewerkschaft, EVG) (DE1012029I).
There is no recent information on the overall density of employers’ organisation. The IAB publishes data on the collective bargaining coverage of establishments (see below).
Main employer organisations
The basic structure of the German industrial relations system on the employer side remains unchanged. In 2011, the four most important employer umbrella organisations were still in place:
- the German Confederation of Employers’ Associations (Bundesvereinigung der Deutschen Arbeitgeberverbände, BDA)
- the Federation of German Industries (Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie, BDI).
- the German Confederation of Skilled Crafts (Zentralverband des Deutschen Handwerks, ZDH)
- the German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (Deutscher Industrie- und Handelskammertag, DIHK)
Whilst none of these associations is itself directly involved in collective bargaining, the members of BDA and ZDH are party to the collective bargaining negotiations and BDA and ZDH have a coordinating role concerning the collective bargaining issues of their members (DE0910049Q).
Main employer developments
Several mergers occurred during 2011. The most important of these affected temporary agency work. The industry was formerly represented by two associations: the Employers’ Association of Medium-Sized Personnel Service Companies (Arbeitgeberverband Mittelständischer Personaldienstleister, AMP) and the German Association of Private Employment Agencies (Bundesverband Personaldienstleistungen Zeitarbeit, BZA). These two employer organisations merged in 2011. The new association is called the Association of Temporary Employment Agencies (Bundesarbeitgeberverband der Personaldienstleister, BAP). BAP has over 1,800 member companies.
In recent years, several employer organisations have introduced a new membership status, i.e. membership without a binding commitment to collective agreements (Ohne Tarifbindung Status, OT-Status). This is the case for the Employers’ Associations for the Metal and Electrical Industry (Arbeitgeberverbände der Metall- und Elektroindustrie, Gesamtmetall) which has offered OT-Status since the end of 2005. Nonetheless, the majority of employees still work in companies bound by the sectoral collective agreement for their industry. At the end of 2010, roughly 1.7 million employees worked in 3,712 member companies bound by the sectoral collective agreement in the metalworking and electrical industry. This compares to nearly 335,000 employees in 2,725 companies who were not covered by the sectoral collective agreement.
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