Teachers' union abandons talks over new service sector organisation

In July 1998, the German Teachers and Science Union (GEW) abandoned talks with five other German trade unions on the creation of a new single service sector union organisation.

In October 1997, the presidents of six German service sector trade unions signed a general declaration on restructuring the trade union organisations in the service sector DE9710233F). Five months later, in February 1998, the six unions published a common draft for a "political platform on the restructuring of trade union representation of interests in the service sector" (Politische Plattform zur Neustrukturierung der gewerkschaftlichen Interessenvertretung im Dienstleistungsbereich) (DE9803256N).

At the beginning of July 1998, the Teachers and Science Union (Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft, GEW) abandoned the talks with the other unions. The decision was taken by the GEW executive board and the chairs of its 16 regional member associations at their annual meeting on 9-10 July 1998 in Dresden. The final decision is still to be taken at the general executive committee meeting on 25-26 September 1998. In 1997, GEW had 289,014 members (DE9803153F). Without GEW, a new German service sector union would still have about 3.3 million members (on current figures).

The reason for this change of mind is the fear among an increasing number of its officials and regional committees that GEW would lose its independence and identity within a new large service sector union. During the initial talks on the merger, GEW tried to create a mostly independent branch union (Fachgewerkschaft) within the framework of the new organisation. For a large proportion of GEW members, this did not seem realistic.

GEW announced that it would continue its close cooperation with the other DGB unions and the German White-Collar Workers' Union (Deutsche Angestellten-Gewerkschaft, DAG), especially as regards education and collective bargaining policy.

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