Pact for partnership 1997 at Mohn printing shop

In April 1997, management and the works council at Mohn GmbH signed a works agreement, the so-called "Pact for partnership 1997", which includes an unpaid increase in working time and a reduction in wages and salaries, in order to secure jobs at the Mohn printing works.

On 29 April 1997, the management and works council at Mohn GmbH, a subsidiary of one of Germany's biggest media corporations, Bertelsmann, signed a works agreement- known as the "Pact for partnership 1997" - for the 1,700 or so employees at the Mohn printing works in Gütersloh.

In the preface to the works agreement, it is stated that "for the security of jobs extensive reductions in costs, in particular in labour costs are necessary." Therefore the works agreement proposes an unpaid extension of working time from the collectively-agreed 35 hours a week to a 37-hour week, which means that every employee would work unpaid overtime of 84 hours per year. Mohn had previously signed a works agreement on unpaid extension of working time in 1995, which will now be renewed.

The "Pact for partnership 1997" also includes various measures to cut labour costs, such as

  • a reduction in monthly payments of between 4% and 6% through a reduction of "payments above contract wages;"
  • the flexible use of working time depending on orders, through the introduction of a "working time account" of 70 hours per year;
  • a reduction of Christmas and holiday bonuses to the collectively-agreed level; and
  • the introduction of Saturday work at least eight times per year

In return, the company declares that it will not make redundancies without the permission of the works council. Finally, the works agreement includes the introduction of a profit-sharing system: if the company achieves a return on capital of 8%, every employee will receive am annual bonus of 10% of an average monthly income, which could increase up to a full monthly income if the company achieves a return on capital of 14%. At present, the return on capital at Mohn is less than 1%.

Mohn is currently asking every employee to sign a declaration which includes the introduction of the works agreement's provisions in their individual employment contracts. The company announced that if a significant group of employees rejects the declaration, the company will relocate an important part of its production at Gütersloh to other production sites, which could mean the loss of 500 or 600 jobs. The president of the German media and printing union IG Medien, Detlef Hensche, sees this announcement as "blackmail of the workforce" and asks the employees not to accept the works agreement. However, the position of IG Medien at Mohn is rather weak, since 17 of the 23 works council members are not union members.

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