Tripartite agreement establishes national alliance for jobs

In December 1998, the first tripartite talks held under the aegis of Germany's new "red-green" government led to the establishment of a new "alliance for jobs", which will take the form of a permanent body made up of representatives of government, trade unions and employers' associations.

Following the election of a Social Democrat-led red-green government in September 1998 (DE9811281F), a small circle of leading representatives of the government, trade unions and employers' associations (see annex below for details of the participants) met officially for the first time in December for joint talks. The parties agreed to establish a new national "alliance for jobs" (Bündnis für Arbeit), taking the form of a permanent tripartite body. The results of the meeting were set out on 7 December in a joint declaration of the alliance for jobs, vocational training and competitiveness (Gemeinsame Erklärung des Bündnisses für Arbeit, Ausbildung und Wettbewerbsfähigkeit), which describes the parties' common goals and contains concrete plans on how to organise the further work of the tripartite alliance.

All parties agreed that a positive development of the labour market requires permanent cooperation between the state, trade unions and employers' and business associations. Therefore the "alliance for job" should be constituted as a joint tripartite body, where all parties have the opportunity for a regular exchange of views and for the mediation of different interests.

According to the joint declaration, the parties involved have already reached an agreement on the following aims:

  • a permanent reduction of non-wage labour costs and a structural reform of the social security system;
  • an employment-promoting distribution of work and flexible working time arrangements (eg reduction of overtime, use of working time accounts and promotion of part-time work);
  • the introduction of a reform of company taxes with particular tax reductions for small and medium-sized companies (SME s) until 1 January 2000;
  • the improvement of innovative capacities and the competitiveness of the companies;
  • the creation of better possibilities to use early and partial retirement;
  • a collective bargaining policy which supports the creation of employment;
  • better possibilities for SMEs to obtain risk capital;
  • the improvement of wealth-creating and profit-sharing schemes;
  • the establishment of tripartite talks on particular topics;
  • the development of new fields of employment for low-skilled workers; and
  • the extension of labour market policy to fight youth and long-term unemployment.

For the discussion and further development of these goals, it was agreed to establish eight working groups which will be made up of experts from all sides and deal with the following topics:

  1. "vocational and continued training", chaired by the Minister of Training, Edelgard Buhlmann;
  2. "tax policy", chaired by the Minister of Finance, Oskar Lafontaine;
  3. "reform of pension schemes", chaired by the Minister of Labour, Walter Riester;
  4. "early and partial retirement", chaired by the Minister of Labour;
  5. "working time policy", chaired by the Minister of Labour;
  6. "reform of health and care insurance", chaired by the Minister of Health, Andrea Fischer;
  7. "economic development in east Germany", chaired by undersecretary Rolf Schwanitz; and
  8. "benchmarking", chaired by the Minister for the Chancellor, Bodo Hombach.

The working group on "benchmarking" should elaborate a common set of socio-economic data and analysis on which all parties could agree. All working groups will start their work in January 1999. The next meeting of the core group with the peak-level representatives was due to be helf on 25 February 1999.

Annex: Participants in the first talks for an alliance for jobs in December 1998
Government Employers' and business association Trade Unions
Gerhard Schröder (Chancellor) Dieter Hundt (Confederation of German Employers' Associations, BDA) Dieter Schulte (German Federation of Trade Unions, DGB)
Oskar Lafontaine (Minister of Finance) Hans-Olaf Henkel (Confederation of German Industries, BDI) Klaus Zwickel (Metalworker's Union, IG Metall)
Werner Müller (Minister of Economics) Hans Peter Stihl (German Association of Chambers of Commerce, DIHT) Hubertus Schmoldt (Mining, Chemicals and Energy Union, IG BCE)
Walter Riester (Minister of Labour) Dieter Philipp (Central Association of German Crafts, ZHD) Herbert Mai (Public Services, Transport and Traffic Union, ÖTV)
Andrea Fischer (Minister of Health) . Roland Issen (German White-Collar Workers Union, DAG)
Bodo Hombach (Minister for the Chancellor) . .

Source: Press and Information Service of the German Federal Government.

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