New employers' association will not participate in industry-level bargaining

According to information published in late 1997, the north German regional metalworking sector employers' association, Nordmetall, has founded a regional employers' association for northern Germany which will neither conclude nor be bound by industry-level collective agreements.

According to recently published information, the regional metalworking sector employers' association Nordmetall- which represents 350 enterprises in the German states of Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and is a member of the federal sectoral employers' association Gesamtmetall- has founded an employers' association called Arbeitgeberverband Norddeutschland which will neither conclude, nor be bound by, industry-level collective agreements.

The intention of Nordmetall is to strengthen the position of those of its members which are not bound to the industry-level collective agreements of the metalworking sector, and to stop the decline in membership. Since the beginning of the 1990s, membership of Nordmetall has declined from 400 firms (with 180,000 employees) to 350 firms (100,000 employees) in 1997, mainly due to an increasing rate of bankruptcies and the dissolution of enterprises. According to Nordmetall, new enterprises especially are not willing to join. Nevertheless, many of them would be interested in the association's other services.

There are currently 18 members of Nordmetall registered as being ohne Tarifbindung(OT) - that is, not bound to multi-employer collective agreements. The legal permissibility of this status, however, is disputed and has been brought before the Federal Labour Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht). Nordmetall fears that the Federal Labour Court might not rule in its favour. In order to provide its OT members with a legally undisputed solution, it founded the new employers' association. Similar associations in the metalworking sector exist in Hessia and Baden-Württemberg. Up to now, 13 of Nordmetall's 18 OT members, three-quarters of which are from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, have declared their intention to become members of the new association. A further interesting feature of the new association is that, while in Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein only enterprises from the metalworking sector are allowed to join, there are no sectoral restrictions for companies from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

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