Social dialogue & conflict resolution mechanisms
Social Dialogue and Conflict Resolution Mechanisms: conciliation, mediation, arbitration in Estonia, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovenia - Workshop
Prague, 29-31 October 2003
Speech abstract - Christian Welz
European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions
THE GERMAN MODEL OF CONFLICT RESOLUTION MECHANISMS: A VOLUNTARY APPROACH
After the Second World War the Allied Control Council Act on Conflict Resolution Mechanisms was passed, the procedures of which are still valid today. This Act assigns a strict priority to voluntary conflict settlement agreements of the social partners. Thus, this Act leaves the initiative entirely to the two sides of industry as for the content and the procedures to be set up with regard to conflict resolution mechanisms.
Consequently, it is then left up to the Federal States (Länder) to set up conflict resolution boards consisting of an equal number of both social partners. This board is chaired by a chairperson who is nominated by the competent Minister for Labour and Social Affairs of each of the 16 Federal States. This nomination, however, has to find the approval of management and labour. This board only intervenes upon the explicit wish of the social partners thus stressing the voluntary approach of the system.
The general practice of conflict resolution in Germany thus lies in a joint conflict resolution mechanism as agreed upon by the two sides of industry („vereinbarte Schlichtung“). But even the incidence of joint conflict resolution has to be considered as very low. The vast majority of collective agreements in Germany are the output of the ordinary collective bargaining process.
This was already made explicit in a statement between the DGB (German Trade Union Confederation) and the BDA (German Employers’ Association) from 1954:
"Thereby the DGB and the BDA (...) are obliged to take serious efforts to primarily conclude collective agreements by way of free negotiations. If those negotiations do not lead to a result it is the common conviction of DGB and BDA that state boards should be involved in dispute resolution in collective bargaining, but only dispute resolution boards based on voluntary agreements."1
1. Cf. Manfed Weiss and Marlene Schmitt, Labour Law and Industrial Relations in Germany, The Hague, Kluwer, 2000, p.160-161.