Germany: Trade union membership more stable in 2014

Following years of declining membership, trade union numbers in Germany began to stabilise in 2014.

Membership of the German Confederation of Trade Unions (DGB) decreased by 0.6% in 2014, a moderate decline compared with previous years. In December 2014, DGB’s eight affiliates had a total of 6,104,851 members (33.1% of them women), a drop of 38,000 from 2013 (6,142,720). Two thirds of the members who left were in the United Services Union (ver.di), Germany’s second largest trade union. The remaining workers had been members of the Construction and Agriculture Workers Union (IG BAU), the Railway and Transport Workers Union EVG and the Chemical and Energy Workers Union (IG BCE) .

However, ver.di’s overall membership had declined by only 1.4%, to 2.04 million in December 2014. After a competing trade union, the German Engine Drivers Union (GDL), expanded its domain to include train crew, IG BCE lost 1% of its members; IG BAU lost 2.5% and EVG lost 2.6%. GDL staged major strikes in 2014 before reaching an agreement covering drivers and train crew. GDL is a member of the second peak-level union organisation, the German Civil Servants Federation and Wage Union (dbb). 

The Christian Federation of Trade Unions (CGB) had 14 affiliates and a total of 273,815 members in 2014  9,000 fewer than in 2010. Its largest affiliate is the Christian Metalworkers Union (CGM)  with 89,400 workers; the smallest is the Christian Railway Workers Union (CGDE) with 337 workers.

Membership of the Food, Beverages and Catering Union (NGG) stagnated. All other trade unions report increased membership.

Germany's largest trade union, the Metalworkers Union (IG Metall) grew slowly (+0.2%) but steadily for the fourth year in a row, and membership stood at 2.27 million in 2014.

Changes in employment and job quality in the public sector led to an increase in members for the German Police Union (GdP) (+0.4%) and the Education and Science Union (GEW) (+0.8%). GEW membership has increased by 4.6% since 2010.

Membership of dbb grew by 0.5% from 1,276,407 (2013) to 1,282,829 (December 2014). As a mandated wage union, dbb represents workers' associations and trade unions. Between 2011 and 2014, dbb increased the number of its affiliates by three to 43. In 2014, dbb gained 15,000 new individual members because of its organising activities. These are mostly young people in training; those in tertiary education and aiming to become civil servants; or young blue-collar and white-collar workers. Other growing trade unions include Komba (which represents workers in local government), the German Tax Union (DSTG) and the GDL.


Useful? Interesting? Tell us what you think. Hide comments

Eurofound welcomes feedback and updates on this regulation

Cuir ráiteas nua leis