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UPS Germany, the Union and Works Councils

erstellt von oops zuletzt verändert: 16.08.2008 10:39

Collective Bargaining

The system of unions/employers relations and collective bargaining in Germany is quite different from from what you find in the USA.

Collective agreements are drawn up either between trade unions and employers’ associations, or between trade unions and individual employers. In the collective bargaining, the union is representing the employees, no matter if 100% of them are union members or none is.

UPS is organized in one of the Transport, Postal Services and Logistics Employers’ associations that are handling the collective bargaining with the unions. In our case the union is ver.di (United Services Union) - a multi-service trade union with about 2.4 million members.

Works Council

Besides the unions, there is an institution called the works council. Its legal base is the Works Constitution Act, which lays down how the workplace labour relations system in Germany should operate. (Put the stress on "should") The Act allows employees to participate in some decisions made at their place of work.

The works council (Betriebsrat) is elected by the workforce. It has to, for example, monitor operations to make sure that all legal requirements, safety regulations, collective agreements and in-house agreements designed to benefit employees are adhered to and implemented as necessary. The works council has to be involved in social welfare, personnel (it has to be heard in case of dismissals)and economic issues. These participation rights are rights of codetermination or rights of information and consultation.

As an institution, the works council must not take an active part in a union struggle (such as a strike), though its members are allowed to do their duties as union members or go on strike like everybody else.

Is there Union Busting in Germany?

What would you think? Come on, it´s UPS! As a supervisor once put it: UPS Germany is bringing together the worst of German and American management culture.

UPS is well known in Germany for its anti-union stance. Systematic harassment of trade unionists and works council members and the manipulation of works council elections, are just some aspects of what German UPS management is widely said to do.

UPS management's aim seems to be a union-free zone at UPS, and if this is not possible they try to obstruct both the union and the formation of works councils. Where UPS cannot stop the formation of works councils, they try and get their own stooges elected.

Though manipulating elections is an offence and the right of unions and its members are protected by the German constitution, there are few instruments to really fight union busting and protect our rights. No question, the best of those instruments is solidarity. And that´s why solidarity is their No.1 target and our No.1 aim.

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