Joint union membership for German and UK workers

A unique agreement on joint trade union membership was signed in March 1997 by the British GMB and the German IG Chemie-Papier-Keramik.

On 3 March 1997 the UK's second largest general trade union, GMB, and the German chemical workers' union IG Chemie-Papier-Keramik signed a unique agreement on joint union membership. The agreement offers members of both organisations, when working in each other's countries, the same support and advice enjoyed by their own members.

British workers in Germany will receive legal advice and aid from IG Chemie as well as support from trade union representatives and works council members. They are also entitled to use the union's training facilities. German workers in the UK can use the same services and facilities provided by GMB, and in particular: free legal advice; health and safety information; and union financial deals including reduced-price membership of the AA automobile club, a reduced-price holiday club and reduced-price insurance.

Although there are so far just a few hundred members of each union who are working in the other country, both unions expect that because of the growing internationalisation of labour markets in Europe, the figure will increase in future. Furthermore, both unions see the agreement as an important step towards Europeanisation of trade union policy. John Edmonds, the general secretary of the GMB stated that: "This is an exciting development for the union movement. It is a natural extension of Europeanisation of the British jobs market. It is important for workers to have quality representation wherever they work".

The president of IG Chemie, Hubertus Schmoldt, said: "Our goal will be the creation of a joint membership at European level to be able to achieve minimum standards on bargaining agreements for all workers." See also Record UK9703117N.

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